Investigation of learning in an environmental skills programme : a case study of workers' training in the Department of Environmental Affairs Expanded Public Works Project

Giqwa, Nomfundiso Louisa (2011) Investigation of learning in an environmental skills programme : a case study of workers' training in the Department of Environmental Affairs Expanded Public Works Project. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This research project examines a case of environmental training for workers in the Expanded Public Works Programme, a poverty relief programme operating in South Africa (EPWP). It is constituted as an interpretive case study, and explores what workers learn and how they learn in an environmental skills programme. The study also examines the context of learning. In accordance with education and training policy, what learners are meant to learn is articulated in unit standards registered on the South African Qualifications Authority website. The unit standards are used to design curricula and learning programmes which are registered as environmental skills programmes by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). For the conservation sector the SETA is the Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Authority (THETA). To develop an understanding of what learners learn, I considered the content, concepts, skills, values and attitudes contained in the unit standards, and then considered the actual learning taking place during the training programme focusing on three unit standards. Data was generated from semi-structured interviews with facilitators, focus group interviews with learners, observations of teaching and learning interventions and document analysis of EPWP, training and skills development policy documents, registered unit standards for the skills programme, and learning support materials produced by the provider implementing the training. The study notes that there is learning taking place within the training implemented through environmental skills programmes. The training is influenced by a number of diverse contextual factors namely policy factors, historical contextual factors, the economic context and diverse literacy levels. Learning interactions involve a variety of social interactions, activities and practices between learners and learners, and learners and facilitators. The main finding of the study is that the training programme’s major emphasis is on concepts and content, and social and learning skills, and values and attitudes. The prominence of social skills masks a neglect of practical workplace related skills which make up a strong focus of the unit standards. This, the study shows, is related to a lack of engagement with workplace learning, which in turn is linked to a disjuncture between policy and practice, where workers working in the EPWP programme are meant to benefit from training, but in this case it was found that community members, who were not working in the programme were being offered training. It was therefore not possible for them to develop the applied workplace skills, which were also meant to facilitate increased employability, as this is one of the key objectives of the EPWP programme. Based on the insights raised by the research findings the study made recommendations that the programme consider the following to recover the situation: to develop strategies that allow for longer term training frameworks so that learners can be trained on full qualifications so that they may qualify and benefit more substantively from the training in terms of employability skills. Facilitators in the programme need to be trained so that they can develop materials that address practical skills, values, attitudes, critical reflections and actions. Monitoring of training needs to be given preference both at materials development level and implementation level.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Environmental education, Study and teaching, South Africa, Environmental education activity programs, Environmental education curricula
Subjects:L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
ID Code:2106
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:13 Oct 2011 08:05
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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