The year 2023 started on a high note for the Community and Youth Development Department. Equipped with programmes that work as stepping-stones into conservation, the department is also home to the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE) Unit.
The Community and Youth Department concentrates on accredited training programmes. In January 2023, the department welcomed students from four Southern African Development Countries (SADC) countries namely; Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia. Africa’s leading conservation organisations such as South African National Parks, Peace Parks Foundation, and African Parks joined the departmental mission of delivering inclusive and effective programmes. These act as a gateway into conservation and use the Natural Resource Management, Terrestrial NQF Level 5 programme as the last step before the Conservation Management programme which will be offered at a Diploma level. In support of the departmental initiatives the above stated organisations released and supported employees from Kruger National Park, Mapungubwe National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park, Augrabies Falls National Park, Mozambiques’s Zinave, Banhine, Maputo and Limpopo National Parks, Malawi’s Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve. Other Conservation organisations including the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Zambia and Malawi also sent their employees to get the accredited Natural Resource Management, Terrestrial qualification. Zambia’s Kasanka Trust and South Africa’s Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) were amongst the organisations that support the training offered by the Community and Youth Development Department.
Students from the stated organisations above benefit from the combined efforts of our various donors and sponsors. These efforts act as subsidies for student course fees that conservation organisations may not have otherwise been able to fund. Quarter one of 2023 saw a total of 26 students arriving from organisations stated above. The majority of students arrived in the fourth week of January and the rest of the group joined during second week of February.
The students were introduced to a blended learning approach with face-to-face contact sessions supplemented by online offerings on Google Classroom. In support of the College’s applied learning approach, students get hands-on training and are also released back to their organisations to apply what has been learnt on site at the College. Each employer organisation must identify and allocate a mentor for each student to ease the process and guide the student during the working integrate learning phase of the programme.
The first phase will be immediately after the Easter break, with the students returning to the College for the second semester in May. They will continue with their contact sessions until the end of August. After which there will be another three month Work Integrated Learning (WIL) period until November just before they can return to the College to graduate after successfully submitting the WIL assessments.
This year promises to be one of the busiest years so far and the department looks forward to inspiring the next generation of environmental protectors and leaders.