The SAWC recognises that the SADC-Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) programme, specifically the component on skills capacity development and networking, cooperation, and information exchange, are fundamentally crucial to the development of TFCAs and marine protected areas in SADC-region. 

The SAWC has provided skills and capacity building training for TFCA needs over a sustained period within the SADC region. Training and development programmes have included TFCA conservation Management, TFCA governance, cross-border law enforcement, community engagement and tourism.

With the impact of Covid-19 on the region, the SAWC embarked upon the deployment of a blended-learning approach to its education and training programmes. This strategy includes the use of the Talent-LMS system to design, deliver and manage online training. 

As such, a four-week online training programme has been developed, and the first pilot short course was delivered in November 2020 as per discussions with the regional authorities of various SADC-TFCA and GIZ-TUPNR programme advisors. A training consultant was appointed to design, develop, host and assess learning activities via a learning management system, Zoom webinars and coordinate other subject-matter expert consultants in hosting their webinars.

The course officially ran from 9 November to 4 December 2020. This is the first course of its kind and served as a pilot course, with the intention that future TFCA online courses be offered by the College if there is the need and / interest.

The four main TFC Areas targeted for personnel training for the pilot course were from Niassa-Selous, Lower Zambezi-Mana Pools, Iona-Skeleton Coast and Western Indian Ocean and was a success as a pilot. The aim is that the current course content forms the basis for any future TFCA On-line Short Courses that will be run by the SAWC. It can be customised for specific groups.

The online course is divided into four chapters and one chapter is allocated per week over a period of 4 weeks. The course covers:

  • Introduction to TFCAs
  • TFCA Development and Management
  • Challenges and Benefits
  • Key components of TFCAs, MPAs & Fisheries

We also developed three parallel courses on Talent LMS for each of the languages i.e., an English course, French course, and Portuguese course. Each course is divided into the four chapters / weeks with sub sections for the week. A student would need to work through a presentation or course content at their own pace (but within the week allocated). After each sub section there is an online test, which is compulsory to proceed to the next section.

In the course content 12 case studies of TFCA’s have been included. These include Ai/Ais-Richtersveld, Great Limpopo TFCA, Iona-Skeleton Coast, KAZA, Kgalagadi, Mana Pools – Lower Zambezi, Lubombo, Maloti Drakensberg, Mayombe TBI, Niassa-Selous, Virunga and Western Indian Ocean.

The total notional hours the students are expected to allocate time for, = approximately 62 hours for the four-week period. This is about an average of 15 hours per a week so planning one’s time in advance to attend this course with all its components requires commitment from the student. The time includes attending the webinars, going through the online content, doing the tests and preparation of the assignments. There are also links to a variety of video and other resources, provided in the course content that students can look at. In the course content presentations, there are tasks provided for the students. These are text boxes titled: ‘Self Study’ and ‘Points to Ponder’. These are optional extras which will probably take an additional five hours per a week, should the student be interested.

We will be launching the next course during the coming months again after all the recommendations have been considered during this pilot. So watch this space for dates to become available.  

We want to thank GIZ based in Botswana, Gaborone, for funding the development of this online short course initiative that is much needed in the industry. We also thank the SADC offices in Gaborone Botswana for all the support in sourcing participants through the various members’ state for the pilot course. We also thank all college staff and those involved in the development of the course. A specific thank you to Ms. Jenny Newenham from BioVista Conservation Consultancy and the translation team from French Translation Services that helped translate the course into French and Portuguese versions.

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