UPDATE ON STUDENT AND PROGRAMME SUPPORT – DEC ’23

By Ashwell Glasson 

Adapting to the Needs of Conservation

This year has seen the dawn of prioritizing the development and professionalization of Rangers globally. In a seminal article in Nature, there has been a resounding call to action to recognize the role and value that Rangers play as planetary health workers, and their contribution to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. 

Several stakeholders of the College such as the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other like-minded networks, are striving to get recognition for Park and Marine Rangers. In many cases, there has been an artificial divide between Terrestrial and Marine Rangers, which does not reflect the realities of their work and, most importantly, their training needs. In Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are growing and are seen as natural refuges and nursery grounds for fisheries and coastal regions. They play a significant role in food security and sustainable livelihoods for millions of people.  

Credit: Save our Seas

Shifting from oceans to rivers, inland fisheries and riverine environments are often the lifeblood of many terrestrial protected areas as well as Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLC). This is from the mighty Zambezi River to the headwaters of the Nile. As the pulse of African seasons changes, iconic regions shift from dry, almost barren plains to verdant swamps overnight. The College’s students from as far as Malawi, Namibia, and Mozambique amongst other places are often challenged to manage these dynamic ecosystems, where water meets land. The challenges of vast, often under-resourced, parks and marine areas require adaptive management, underpinned by wise and responsible resource use.  

More than ever, the headwinds that many universities and colleges are encountering globally also touch and impact the College. Remaining true to our vision, values and most importantly our students’ well-being remains our raison d’être. The College’s business units and the SPS Department remain focused on enabling our students to return to their workplaces with confidence, new insights and a zest for the challenges that lie ahead. We prioritize the resource needs, the student’s experience and creating a caring learning environment. This ranges from providing additional reading materials to help our students complete their academic projects, to advising on studying skills as well as assisting our various business units with online resources, policies, and advice on how to improve the delivery of education and training programmes.

Looking Ahead! 

Reflecting on 2024, the SPS Department will be heavily focused on how we can meet the challenge of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in our learning spaces, the growing need to improve our delivery of blended learning strategies as well as the changing regulatory landscape in occupational, higher education and training in Africa. We anticipate the development and delivery of new Short Learning Programmes (SLP) in the diverse Illegal Wildlife Trafficking (IWT) space to ensure our rangers and conservationists remain current and, where possible, ahead of the curve in these challenging times. 

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