In South Africa, the development of the renewable energy schools’ programme at the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University (SU), is in line with one of the key objectives of the Government’s enabling skills development framework.
This framework is to create awareness and stimulate skills development within this sector, explains Therese Lambrechts, programme manager at CRSES.
This objective is to raise public awareness on renewable energy and educate the public around its benefits and opportunities and as a result, capacity will be developed in order to make use of these benefits and opportunities.
The higher education environment serves as an integral mechanism to achieve the objectives around renewable energy awareness. Lambrechts said that through education, the Renewable Energy Schools’ programme, supports the National Development Plan’s (NDP) priorities to stimulate investment, as well as to promote and develop technical job opportunities in the renewable energy industry.
The South African IPP Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) specifies that developers must show how communities in a 50km radius of awarded project sites, will benefit from the project’s revenue.
This implies that the IPP programme has the potential to leverage the economic, social and local development of such a community. The importance of the renewable energy schools’ programme in these areas speaks for itself.
Probably the most important reason why the schools’ programme was developed, is that climate change and renewable energy have recently became part of the school curriculum in South Africa, this implies that most teachers at secondary school level have to teach topics with which they are not (necessarily) familiar with.
Therefore a research-based set of learning and teaching support material (LTSM) was developed for high school teachers on renewable energy by CRSES at SU in 2008.
The reason for the development was to empower teachers to effectively facilitate learning about renewable energy, by broadening the knowledge of teachers on renewable energy and provide them with appropriate subject materials to ensure effective implementation in classrooms.
Following the introduction of the National Natural Sciences Curriculum (2000), CRSES identified an opportunity to assist teachers to better deliver lessons using research-based Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) on renewable energy.
The Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) 2013 included a component on renewable energy sources in the following subjects: Geography, Natural Science, Life Sciences and Technology.
Since 2009, the Renewable Energy material has been implemented and disseminated in high schools in the Western Cape, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Northern Cape Provinces through teacher professional development courses by using the existing school networks from the Department of Basic Education, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) Eco-Schools programme, Science Centres and the Fundisa for Change programme.
More than a thousand teachers were trained in these workshops.
Lambrecht added that the centre provides a short course for Teacher Professional Development in Renewable Energy.
The aim of the short course is to empower teachers to utilise curriculum opportunities in renewable energy by using the CRSES renewable energy materials. The training normally consists of a one day workshop.
Therese Lambrechts works at the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at the University of Stellenbosch where she manages the Centre’s renewable energy schools’ programme since 2008 and is responsible for the development, implementation and improvement of the programme.