A Masters learning programme in environmental water requirements was launched by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in collaboration with the Water Research Commission (WRC), United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) after assessing the educational and training needs in integrated water resources management in South Africa at national, provincial and community levels.
The official launch took place on Thursday 28 June 2016 at the Protea Hotel (OR Tambo) with Dr Stanley Liphadzi: Group Executive WRC handing over the new Master’s Degree programme course to Ms. Margaret-Ann Diedricks: Director-General of Water and Sanitation opening the event.
According to Ms. Margaret-Ann Diedricks: Director-General of Water and Sanitation the master’s programme was finalised after evaluating the education and training needs of the DWS and that of other government departments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. The assessment took into account various imperatives, including South Africa being a country in transition, its affirmative action policy, staff and career development concerns, capacity building required for achieving sustainable development and the need to link and interact with efforts by Southern Africa and the international community.
The major challenge in South Africa is the lack of appropriately-qualified individuals with sufficient experience to implement the provisions of the National Water Act, (Act No.36 of 1998-NWA), in order to ensure the achievement of integrated water resources management (IWRM). New concepts were introduced such as Reserve and Classification that existing practitioners had to familiarise themselves with before they could implement it in terms of licensing requirements. Inadequate and fragmented implementation of transfer of knowledge and capacity has the potential to hinder endeavours to manage water resources in ways that address issues of equity, sustainability and efficiency, and contribute to social and economic development and the eradication of poverty.
The course aims to provide training at a professional scientific level that qualifies candidates on a nationally and internationally recognised level to achieve a holistic understanding of the processes, functions and components of inland and estuarine aquatic ecosystems for management purposes. The course was also meant to provide wider understanding of the strategies that are utilised throughout the SADC region
Key objectives of the curriculum:
• Enable training of public and private sector candidates (single module short learning programmes to a Master’s degree) in the field of Environmental water requirements (EWR) using the concepts and tools that form part of Resource Directed Measures (RDM);
• Design frameworks for monitoring and auditing the effects of water resource management projects/programmes in terms of (a) the biophysical aspects of aquatic ecosystems and (b) the socio-economic implications for water resource management.
Study options at training institution therefor must offer a flexible suite of advanced study choices:
• Accredited (SAQA) individual modules and short-term learning programmes (SLPs), which are credit-baring towards the Masters.
• A part time tutored Masters in Environmental Management (M. Env Man) with specialisation in Environmental Water Requirements programme completed over two years encompassing coursework modules and a research project.
Entry requirements for prospective students are:
• A Bachelor’s degree or diploma in an appropriate field or appropriate work experience.
• An Honours or equivalent 4-year degree in a relevant discipline, or equivalent qualifications in environmental sciences for cross-disciplinary studies.
• Candidates lacking an adequate ecological foundation may be required to complete additional modules as co-requisites during the first year of the programme.
The programme is composed of ten modules including mini-dissertation. It can be accomplished through one year full time or two years part-time study.
For the pioneer group intake, starting in year 2016, fifteen participants will be accepted for the SLPs, while eight to fifteen candidates will be accepted into the Masters programme. The first trial is currently offered through the University of North West. However, other institutions are encouraged to engage and offer the programme as soon as they are ready to do so.
The Masters and short term learning programmes are available in hard copy or downloadable from the WRC website (www.wrc.org.za) Report no. TT 653/15