Postgraduate programmes, specifically in Geoinformation Science are presented at very few tertiary institutions in the SADC region, and where it is presented it is often integrated as a module in a degree programme of a related discipline such as Environmental Science or Geography. The collaborative Master programme in GIS, Remote Sensing and Earth Observation will be the first of its kind to be implemented at the involved tertiary institutions of higher learning and will address the national and regional need for capacity building in the management and analysis of the region’s environment and natural resources.
The programme started under the Department of Land Management, at the Polytechnic of Namibia, now Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). Visits to the partner universities, namely Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), University of Botswana (UB) and University of Zambia (UNZA) were undertaken in November 2013.
The meetings/visits took place to establish relationships, to understand technical and human resource capacities and needs, get an overview on related postgraduate programmes at partner universities, to see and understand the programme development processes and structures (institutional and national requirements, credit arrangements and transfer), and to get an overview of the areas of specialisation and research.
The first Curriculum Development Workshop was held at NUST in Windhoek, Namibia from 24 February to 01 March 2014. The discussions included the needs and programme alignment; curriculum development and implementation plan; programme structure (core courses / electives / credits) & contents (specialisations); networking and partnerships / multi-party MoU and capacity building needs.
The second Curriculum Development Workshop was held at CPUT in Cape Town, South Africa from 6 to 9 July 2014. The draft curriculums and draft syllabi from each University, namely NUST, UB and UNZA were discussed. Discussions and approval of the multi-party MoU also took place.
A GIS Capacity Development Workshop was held at Chamunika Lodge outside Lusaka, Zambia from 22 to 25 September 2014. The workshop covered the following topics:
- The use of Free and Open Source (FOSS) GIS, Remote Sensing software and multimedia tools;
- The enhanced flexibility in compilation and delivery of teaching and learning materials for core and joint elective courses;
- Hands-on exercises on ‘Spatial Databases’, ‘Web Mapping’, ‘Spatial Statistics’ and ‘Remote Sensing’;
- Use of free multi-media production tools for development of online learning materials;
- Intro to e-learning strategies and platforms through instructional designers from the Centre for Open and Lifelong Learning (COLL) from NUST.
On 26 May 2015 the Signing of the Collaborative Agreement took place at NUST in Windhoek, Namibia. Representatives from the SASSCAL office in Windhoek and representatives of all partner universities were present.
The programme for NUST was approved by Senate in August 2015, for implementation in January 2016. The implementation date was later adjusted to July 2016, in order to streamline with the UB and UNZA academic years that usually start in July/August. This was done so ensure that students could follow elective courses at any partner university.
Fourteen students were awarded scholarships at the official launch of the programme, that took place at NUST in Windhoek, Namibia on 1 November 2016. The first three courses were taught by Dr. Jackson Phiri from UNZA (on feature photo), Dr. Lisho Mundia from NUST and Dr Ingrid Stengel from NUST respectively. The next three courses will be taught from February to May 2017, where after the students will then conduct their research.
At UNZA, the programme has been approved and is ready for implementation. The programme will be advertised from December 2016 to January 2017, when the selection will happen. The teaching of the courses will start in February 2017, with the launch planned for end of February 2017 or beginning of March 2017.
At UB, the programme still needs the final approval, envisaged by middle December 2016, for implementation in February 2017. The programme will be advertised in January 2017, with the selection planned by end of January 2017. The teaching of the courses will start in February 2017, with the launch planned for end of March 2017.