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With over ten years of experience as a conservation and field-guide educator, Byron Ross kicked off the first conservation lecture at the newly formed bizhub Conservation Academy (in association with Good Work Foundation) in Mpumalanga recently.
The lecture, presented to adult students who are also studying IT and hospitality, focused on the plight of our country’s rhinos. So far, in 2014, nearly 800 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, a figure that took many of the students by surprise.
“We cannot just fire money at the symptom,” says Ross. “Education about wildlife and conservation in general must be a cornerstone of our approach. Too often, communities adjacent to poaching areas are excluded or they simply do not have the skills to become part of the solution. What’s more, through urbanisation, South Africans are losing their connection to nature. The vision of the Conservation Academy is to face that challenge head-on. We must connect more South Africans to the economy of wildlife, and that mission starts with allowing them access to wildlife and conservation education.”
Good Work Foundation (GWF) has a multi-pronged approach to post-secondary school education that includes establishing academies that are relevant to the area and local economy. Accordingly, GWF has already established an IT and hospitality academy at the Hazyview campus in Mpumalanga, and have now partnered with Konica Minolta South Africa to add a conservation academy.
Students will be able to study to become field guides, but they can also – with the foundation of an internationally-recognised IT certificate - look at more specialised careers, such as wildlife data management and wildlife security.
“The bizhub Conservation Academy is a new equation in conservation,” says Alan Griffith, CEO of Konica Minolta South Africa. “One that recognises that there is no quick fix. One that says that conservation begins with people. One that acknowledges that the best result for our people and wildlife requires a vision that pays much more attention to education and opportunity.”
About Good Work Foundation
Good Work Foundation (GWF) has been working with grassroots education in Africa since 2003. The mission of GWF is to uplift rural communities through access to world-class education and, to this end, GWF was one of the first organisations in Africa to bring tablet computing and learning apps to rural learners, and now, they are the only sub-Saharan organisation working with Stanford University on cloud-based learning.
GWF currently operates four digital learning centres where each centre is made up of academies that deliver basic literacy and career training to school-aged and adult learners. Open Learning Academies focus on English literacy, math’s literacy, digital literacy, conservation literacy and life skills for school-aged learners. Career-Training Academies provide vocational skills courses and digital literacy tuition to adult learners. In all areas, and collaborating with strategic partners, GWF focuses on delivering digital curriculums, state-of-the-art facilities and expert tuition.