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South Africa Enhances Classroom Achievement through GLOBE Training

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Teachers in South Africa are utilizing the benefits of GLOBE resources in innovative ways to complement their students' education as well as their extracurricular activities. The effort to expand Earth science education throughout the community was recently supported through a GLOBE teacher training workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 19-22 December 2011. Ms. Mokgadi Madiga, Government Point of Contact and acting GLOBE Country Coordinator, stated, "Thanks to the work of these devoted teachers who believe in connecting with the Earth through interactive science study, more schools will connect to GLOBE throughout the coming year and environmental awareness campaigns will have a wider reach in our society."

The workshop produced well trained teachers and ignited a new sequence of ideas for future projects in South Africa. One such project is a study of the effect of climate change on invasive alien plants in their local indigenous environment and on their local water resources. Participants contemplated and discussed how best to elicit community involvement in proposed projects. Study site ownership and instrument logistics were crucial discussion points due to a history of vandalism in some of the rural schools. A forum was established for further discussions on provincial collaboration and participation in the 2013 GLOBE Learning Expedition (GLE).

This event was funded by the Department of Science and Technology: Science and Youth unit (DST), the government point of contact for the GLOBE Program in South Africa. Thirty teachers from fourteen schools from all 9 provinces of South Africa attended the workshop, which was led by Ms. Rogeline Brettenny from the GLOBE Africa Regional Help Desk Office Training and Development Division. Other trainers included Mr. Mark Brettenny, Africa GLOBE International Advisory Committee (GIAC) Chairman and coordinator of the GLOBE Africa Regional Help Desk Office, and John Claassen, a GLOBE teacher from the George region who is following the Master Trainer track. The teachers were trained in Atmosphere, Land Cover, Phenology, and Soil investigations, research areas that will benefit teachers, students, and the local community.

Ms. Brettenny commended the teachers who attended the workshop and shared that many of them sacrificed part of their winter vacations to do so. The teachers' dedication and enthusiasm is encouraging, and a testament of their willingness to participate actively in GLOBE. Teachers in South Africa appreciate how well GLOBE activities align with national education standards and noted that it will go a long way to enhance learner performance in the classroom.

Yllias Lawani, GLOBE Alumni Representative in Africa, connected via Skype from Benin and spoke to the teachers about current GLOBE Alumni activities. He invited the teachers to identify students who would like to participate as future GLOBE Alumni in South Africa. Ms. Madiga pointed to the implementation strategies that were developed by the teachers in the various provinces and indicated that DST will be looking into supplying the schools with the necessary instruments and technology to ensure active participation. Dr. Teresa Kennedy, Director of the GLOBE International Division Office, also connected to the workshop via Skype from the U.S. and spoke to teachers about successful implementation strategies for GLOBE, also mentioning the exciting SCRC activities and research campaigns that they can become involved with as well as some of the collaborative features that will be soon be available on the new GLOBE website.

Throughout the workshop, schools developed implementation strategies relevant to their curriculum that they then presented to the DST for consideration. One proposal suggested that GLOBE trained teachers begin to work closely with other staff members, governing bodies, and members of the community to ensure that GLOBE activities are well supported. They also expressed the desire to enhance current academic organizations by establishing GLOBE clubs or integrating GLOBE activities into existing science clubs. Teachers appealed to DST to provide the necessary support to bring these activities to fruition.

South Africa joined the GLOBE Program on July 23, 1996 when U.S. Vice President Al Gore and South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki met at the Whitehouse to review scientific and other cooperative efforts between the U.S. and South Africa. At this meeting a Declaration of Intent was signed, initiating South Africa's participation in GLOBE.

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