_: Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, today handed over a R28,5 million Environmental Education Centre to the University of Limpopo.
Established with the vision of being “Centre of Excellence”, it will play a role in scientific and environmental education by promoting increased knowledge on the natural environment to schools, interested parties, the people of Limpopo and the general public.
Joined by various stakeholders, the Deputy Minister officially cut the ribbon at the Turfloop University Campus. The project is a world class one that will contribute to the sustainability of the biological environment.
Funded and implemented through the Department’s Environmental Protection and Infrastructure Programme (EPIP), aligned to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the project began operating in April 2012.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, the Deputy Minister said, “Using labour intensive methods in line with requirements of the EPWP, the project has employed 74 local people. Amongst the people employed, 18 are women, 14 are youth, and 01 person with a disability. Government is committed to ensuring that it takes collective action for the active development and implementation of policies and practices that address the needs of poor women.”
The Deputy Minister further elaborated that the project provided accredited training opportunities to local people employed in the project on plumbing, painting, general field assistant and assistant chef. Non accredited training on the other hand covered a variety of courses including managing personal finances, health and safety, first aid, bricklaying, landscape maintenance, fencing, welding and environmental awareness.
This project has also contributed to the development of small business enterprises. Seventeen (17) small businesses have been used in providing services in plumbing, shack installation, catering, training, drawing of structural plans, construction, guarding service, transportation of materials, supply of building material, and protective clothing.
Situated in the heart of the Limpopo University and the biodiversity rich province of Limpopo, the project aims to educate and raise concern on conservation and biodiversity issues through education and awareness. The preservation of natural resources at our disposal and promoting community livelihoods is one of the long term goals of the Centre.
Job creation, research opportunities, the development of staff and students at the University are amongst other crucial ways in which the project has empowered the public. Not only has the community benefited immensely and acquired skills development and training, it will also be involved in the running of the projects that will be carried out at the Centre.
The University, using its key departments, will take it upon itself to serve the province and will be recognised as a major and critical part in plant and animal conservation. Rural communities, government agencies, mining and research industries will be the main recipients of the messages to be communicated. The three integral and complimentary sections, an animal sector unit (Animal Park), the Fablab and Science Centre drive this biodiversity conservation movement.
Other sponsors of this project include the Department of Science and Technology / National Research Foundation’s South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (for Programmatic Support Fund and Exhibits); Anglo American Platinum (for outreach programmes); KDV Technologies (for exhibits); Blue Cherry Signs (for recycling exhibits) and the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (for Limpopo Tooling Initiative and Green Technology Exhibits).