The world, South Africa and indeed WESSA, have all been part of a pandemic that has challenged everything we thought that we know, on all fronts of economics, psychology, social fabric and individual wellbeing. As Winston Churchill was working to form the United Nations after WWII, he famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. In another context, Churchill’s insight on human nature can also be applied to the global pandemic of COVID-19 we face today. Human nature in WESSA during the crisis has also been tested and tested again. Character was shown in most respects, optimism and realism mixed in one sentence and the views about WESSA from our stakeholders primarily remains positive. It has been a breath of fresh air to experience limited negativity during this trying period, and I suppose the reason for this, is that nobody truly has the experience and skills sets to deal with the business effects of the pandemic. Everyone is learning from the other one, customer is learning from service provider, service provider is learning from the customer, Boards of Directors are learning afresh what governance means during the days of COVID-19, truthfully, there is not one person or group that can claim to be experts.
The WESSA Schools Programme
reached more than a million South African youth over the past year.
future . It is so encouraging to share that the Schools Programme reached more than a million South African youth over the past year. WESSA has an illustrious and significant history which spans over the 94 years of the existence of the organisation as an environmental NGO. We have come a long way from the conservation education and outdoor adventure experience learning in and about the environment which had a strong focus on wildlife or species preservation. Today, we have a
I am very proud of the WESSA Schools Programme and what they have achieved during these extraordinary times. The ability to respond to the changing needs of our stakeholders whilst continuing to fulfil the contractual obligations of our projects has been nothing short of exemplary. Themandate of the Schools Programme is to invest in young people and facilitate the Sustainable Development Goals by working with schools and teachers to support and improve school curricula and equip children for a sustainable
The vision of the School Programme is to transform schools through environmental teaching and learning for a sustainable future. This we do by using Environmental Education as a tool to bring about systemic and holistic change in all spheres of life.
strong focus on education for the environment which promotes the holistic development of individuals (in our case learners and teachers) to take positive and responsible action within their local environment and contexts. The WESSA Schools Programme has evolved over the years with various programmes and projects being offered across the country such as the Eskom Energy project and what is now the flagship programme, the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme . This international programme which is a FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) ecolabel and the largest global ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) programme was implemented in 2003 in South Africa. Seventeen years later, and the programme is still regarded as a key interventionist programme in South African schools that speaks to whole school development and improvement. We have adopted the concept of the cradle to career pathway to opportunity. Other programmes we have previously implemented include the International Water Explorers programme as well as launching a pilot project funded by the European Commission funded called EEESAY (Entrepreneurial Environmental Empowerment of SA Youth). This project took us into
new territory of entrepreneurship education. We have also piloted a successful ECD (Early Childhood Development) programme called Head Start which focuses on capacity development of ECD practitioners and caregivers. We look forward to getting traction on this in the months to come. The visionof theSchool Programme is to transform schools through environmental teaching and learning for a sustainable future. This we do by using Environmental Education as a tool to bring about systemic and holistic change in all spheres of life. Through living the WESSA values, we will continue with our mission of implementing high impact environmental and conservation projects which promote public participation in caring for the Earth. I have the highest regard for the skills and experience of Donavan and Cindy-Lee and the Schools team. You are indeed the backbone of the WESSA Schools Programmes, and it is your efforts and excellence in caring about the youth in South Africa, it is your passion and commitment to and caring about our teachers and learners that will ensure that WESSA Schools Programmes will continue to grow from strength to strength. Enjoy reading the case stories of schools, in this review, that have achieved so much over the last few years as part of the WESSA family.
Through living the WESSA values, we will continue with our mission of implementing high impact environmental and conservation projects which promote public participation in caring for the Earth.
OVERVIEW AND REFLECTION of the programmes during the 2019/2020 financial year 2019 marked 17 years of environmental education implemented by the WESSA Schools Programme.
2019: turning the tide!!
Throughout these 17 years, the approach and methods of environmental education has changed significantly to ensure more holistic and inclusive benefits of outdoor learning. These changes also encouraged a much-needed evolution of the WESSA Schools Programme to implement a range of environmental, social and economic education programmes and projects in 2019, as compared to 2003 when we only implemented the Eco-Schools Programme.
A workshop series for ECD practitioners and caregivers to facilitate the making of educational games and toys from recyclable material.
Whole school development programme to support
High school entrepreneurship education preparing young people for the world of work.
environmental learning in the classroom and helps to mobilise future-orientated action through a 7step framework.
Implementing sustainable technologies and practices in rural schools to address environmental issues in communities using a Water-Energy-Food nexus approach.
Innovative international programme that encourages learners and communities to take ownership of creating healthy surroundings by engaging their local biomes and planting indigenous trees.
Giving young people a voice by developing their skills and providing a platform to engage with local social and environmental issues and risks . Suggest well researched solutions through articles, photos and short videos.
An international award programme that guides Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to sustainability through research, workplace skills and environmental impact.
People Caring For The Earth
People Caring For The Earth
Figure 1: The range of programmes and projects offered by the WESSA Schools Programme in 2019.
21st Century Skills Development 21st century skills development through environmental learning was a big focus for the 2019 academic year. Our WESSA Schools Programme particularly contributed to teachers and learners further developing their project-based learning and problem-based learning skills.
This focus on skills development ensures the sustainability of action and behaviour change for a better and more environmentally aware society, but it also significantly contributes to the holistic development of the learners who participate in our programmes. One of our young reporters in the YRE programme was applauded for his article on pollution in his community and received an Honourable Mention International Award, making all the South African young reporters very proud. Teachers across South Africa have expressed that it is not just the practical and extended learning processes the WESSA Schools
Programme brings that leads to success, but the professional development through peers and experts that makes the journey towards holistic sustainable learning worthwhile. In 2019, one of our teachers, using her school’s environmental projects as evidence, entered and won the Secondary Leadership Category in the Department of Basic Education’s National Teachers Awards (NTA). Our impact at a school transformation level has become more sophisticated by directly responding to and addressing environmental, social and economic challenges in
communities. We have worked hard to link environmental action projects to the learners’ everyday lived realities that prevent them from living a dignified and fulfilled life. Education, including environmental education, has become an important driving force behind reaching the sustainable development goals by 2030. As the WESSA Schools Programme, our commitment to inclusive and holistic environmental education and learning has created a well- established journey for South African children to actively take part in driving global transformation at grassroots level.
Figure 2: The environmental learning journey the WESSA Schools Programme created for South African children
Building a better South Africa through environmental learning
Teachers, learners and the WESSA Schools Programme team have become a community of practice working towards learning about, learning through and learning for the environment to help solve problems we face. 2019 has created a solid foundation for the WESSA Schools Programme to launch into a new decade of positively contributing to building a better South Africa through environmental learning.
The success of theWESSASchools Programmeand the legacy of environmental learningwe are building is undeniably a teameffort. No one person is responsible for the transformation of our programmes and our impact over the last 17 years, but it is attributed to the diversity of people on our team and the experiences and expertise each of them bring to team. During 2019, we lost a few key members who were part of our team for a number of years and contributed significantly to where we are as a national programme today. Moving forward, our core team consists of the following members:
Our ‘Anything-is-Possible’ General Manager DONAVAN FULLARD
Donavan is a science graduate from the University of Western Cape where he studied Botany and Zoology and became a Biology teacher for many years. His illustrious career spans over 30 years in the education, training and development sector. He is passionate about youth development and was famously known as papa Groen Sebenza, managing this significant national youth development programme across South Africa. He is currently completing his Masters Degree with Rhodes University under the supervision of Prof Heila Lotz-Sisitka. His other passions in life include his love for the outdoors, gardening and cooking for people. What most people don’t know about Donavan is that he was an avid rugby player and represented his university in his heyday. He is terrified of snakes and almost fell off the slope of a maintain trying to get away from a puff adder.
Our ‘Inspirational-Go-Getter’ Programmes Manager
Cindy grew her love for the natural environment from growing up with her farmer grandfather in the Northern Cape. She obtained a National Diploma in Nature Conservation from CPUT and decided to specialize in people-nature relations after being held up by gunpoint in a Cape Town nature reserve while working. This led to her environmental education career and she obtained a Masters Degree in Education (Environmental Education) from Rhodes University. Cindy is an avid bird watcher and spends many weekends on the early morning prowl for a rare sighting. She enjoys birding so much that she got school kids to love it too! Although it may seem surprising from her small frame, she does Crossfit at least 4 times a week and really enjoys extreme fitness sports. One of Cindy’s favourite activities, whether indoors or outdoors, is to build amazing fires and spend the evening staring into the flames.
Nomfundo is a qualified Horticulturist who holds a National Diploma in Horticulture, a Bachelor of Technology (Horticulture) and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. Nomfundo is motivated by inspiring change behavior in children and youth in her everyday job. Her down time is spent reading and researching alternative medicine which is currently her area of interest. Nomfundo enjoys practicing her MasterChef skills in the kitchen and makes a mean oxtail stew with dumplings – but she’s still struggling to master a good lasagna. She is an eager (big) car enthusiast and the 2020 Landrover Defender ticks all the boxes for her.
Nonja holds a BSc in Environmental Sciences from the University of Kwazulu-Natal and is the youngest member in our team. Growing up, she really wanted to be doctor because of the Greys Anatomy TV show. However, after spending some time job shadowing at Greys Hospital in Pietermaritzburg in her matric year, her interest completely changed because she realized that it wasn’t her passion. Nonja is practically addicted to olives because of the health benefits they have – especially for her skin. After reading the book Fast Food Nation, she attempted to be a vegetarian a few times – and let’s just say she is still trying. She has a phobia for driving but know that it is something she’ll need going forward and is therefore taking lessons to get over this phobia.
Zwai holds a National Diploma in Environmental Education which has expanded his knowledge to teach and learn in, about and for the environment. He is currently studying towards a BA Degree in Environmental Management through the University of South Africa. Our ‘Ask-Me-I’ve-Done-It’ Project Implementation Guru! ZWAKELE NGWENYA About 5 years ago, Zwai started exercising by doing short jogs around his neighbourhood and in no time was ready to run marathons! He has already done major races such as the Soweto, Mid-Vaal and SASOL marathons and would love to do the Comrades soon. Mountains climbing is next on his list. Zwai is an ‘informal chef’ and the Chairman of a WhatsApp group called “Men who Cook” which strives to change the mentality that cooking is a home chore directed to women only.
Lameez was born and raised in Cape Town. She qualified in the field of Geography with a Masters Degree from the University of Western Cape and is currently completing a Masters Degree in Environmental Education at Rhodes University. Lameez’s true passion lies in education and Human Capacity Development for the environment. Our ‘Bring-the-Fun and Think Differently’ Project Manager LAMEEZ EKSTEEN Lameez means “soft” in Arabic and she is very sensitive, but definitely not fragile. She enjoys cooking and trying new recipes. Lameez also loves music and often has one-woman, old school R&B, concerts in her mirror – with her favourite song to perform being No Scrubs by TLC. She collect crystals and her favourite stone is amethyst.
Our ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ Project Manager
Rea is a fun bubbly young lady. She studied a BSc Life and Environmental Science from the University of Johannesburg and graduated in 2014. She realized that she wanted to dedicate her life to protecting our planet when she was Grade 8 and started an environmental club for her school with some of her friends. Her career started as a climate change activist when she as 20 years old and she has come a long way since then. Even though Rea is a nature lover, she is terrified of lizards and only love them from afar. She spends her free time reading, volunteering at the Orlando Children’s Home and working in her garden.
Our ‘Renewable Energy Expert’ Project Manager MAWANDE MBOLA
Mawande is from a small town called Willowvale but moved to Cape Town in the early stages of his life where he studied and obtained a National Diploma in Environmental management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He developed a love for nature during primary school days as his home in Willowvale is situated less than a kilometre to the Dwesa nature reserve. He has always been a been a sport person, if he was not at school he was playing soccer.
Mawande developed a great deal of interest in the renewable energy sector in the early years of his career within the Groen Sebenza internship under the WESSA Eskom Energy and Sustainability project. He completed a Project Management course at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. His future aspirations is to work on big scale renewable energy programmes in the SADC region.
PHILOSOPHY OF THE PROGRAMME The philosophy of the WESSA Schools programme has always been informed and underpinned by the understanding of the environment as a multi-dimensional concept as depicted by the diagram below:
Align projects to relevant local and global agendas
Mobilising public/private participation in addressing socio-economic issues – mitigating impacts on ecological infrastructure and human life
Support teaching and learning in schools and communities through action learning
Empowering Youth and developing
skills to become enviropreneurs in sustaining livelihoods
Web of life
TheWESSASchool Programme’sapproach isbasedonour understandingthat the environment ismultidimensional and consists of four key dimensions that are interconnected with one another. These four dimensions are the biophysical, social, political and economic. Hence the analogy of the spider web in the centre of the diagram showing that every part of the web is connected to every other part, making the web both complex and powerful. If any part is weakened or disconnected, the overall value and strength of the web is severely compromised. The environment from this perspective, the web of life, forms the foundation or basis of all the work we do in our offering of Environmental Education through the WESSA Schools Programme across South Africa. Thus, linking the environment with education , responding to our mandate and aligning with our strapline “People Caring for the Earth”. This perspective makes it possible for us to respond to the relevance, impact and sustainability issues associated with the active learning framework and project-based learning approach of our projects and programmes.
such as water, biodiversity, energy, waste, climate change, etc. and develop an education programme to highlight the interconnections between the different dimensions as mentioned above. This annual review will hopefully showcase the amazing work that has been achieved by a selection of schools that speaks to the realisation of the above framework, i.e. schools understanding and responding to all the dimensions through the action projects in their local communities towards a sustainable future.
Not only do we use this framework in our projects through teaching and active learning processes in schools, but also with stakeholders and funders as a marketing, evaluation and information tool to explain the fundamental underpinning and rationale for our work. This contextual framework also reflects our understanding of working with people in schools and communities from diverse perspectives across South Africa. Through our various programmes we highlight or focus on an environmental issue in a particular context and theme related to the natural environment
approach in addition to the above philosophy, is based on an array of five well known and overarching practices namely the constructivist, enquiry-based, collaborative, integrative and reflective approaches , as shown in the diagram below. These are skills-based approaches we employ through our many school and outdoor activities, through workshops, interactions and engagements with teachers and learners participating in our projects and programmes. These contribute to the development of the 21st century skills which is critical for us to achieve through our programmes.
Our educational or pedagogical
The 5 key overarching Pedagogical Approaches as a practice within our Schools Programme
The reason why it is wise to use a range of methods and processes as is the case with our programmes, is that:
Firstly , learners have different learning styles. In any group of school children, there will be a diversity of learners. Some of them will learn better from some processes (such as reading case studies) and others will respond better to other methods (such as hands-on exploration). Using a variety of methods increases the chances of everyone learning.
Secondly , a variety of methods allows us to address a variety of educational purposes and outcomes.
Coming to understand one’s world better Gaining the skills and values to live well within it Awareness or sensitisation to issues and possibilities Gaining information and new insights Un-learning certain perspectives Recognising and reconstructing the frames through which we look at the world Seeing a growing array of possibilities to act Shaping better sustainability practices Action competence, agency and commitment to care. Environmental learning is, among other possible learning outcomes, about:
Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) runs three youth focussed educational programmes, Eco-Schools (including FEE EcoCampus), Young Reporters for Environment (YRE) and Learning About Forests (LEAF), to educate young people with a goal to create awareness of environmental issues. The other two programmes Blue Flag and Green Key work with tourism sector through an environmental management framework to support sustainability.
Over the years, the programmes have created a name for themselves globally and are implemented with the following core educational principles: • Ensure that participants are engaged in the learning/ teaching process • Empower participants to make informed decisions and actions on real-life sustainability issues • Encourage participants to work together actively and involve their communities in collaborative solutions to examine their assumptions, knowledge, and experiences, in order to develop critical thinking, and to be open to change • Encourage participants to be aware of cultural practices as an integral part of sustainability issues • Encourage participants to share inspirational stories of their achievements, failures, and values, to learn from them, and to support each other explore, test, and share innovative approaches, methodologies, and techniques through monitoring and evaluation are central to our programmes The programmes have different origins and over the years have grown significantly. The quality and • Support participants • Continuously • Ensure that continuous improvements
growth has been made possible by FEE Members in 77 countries who share our conviction and execute our programmes on a daily basis.
in 1991 when student reporters accompanied scientists to the North Pole to study the depleting ozone layer and was launched as an international programme three years later in 1994 celebrating 25 years of empowering youth around the world to give the environment a voice. Every year YRE students are also given an opportunity to report from high-level international environmental conferences that increase their leadership and journalistic skills. As for the programme development, YRE is planning to focus on students from higher age education and strengthen the network for the programme Alumni. focussed on the benefits of forests and reconnecting students with the natural world. The programme in 2019 engaged around 700,000 students from over 5,000 schools with the help of 30,000 teachers in 28 countries. While most LEAF students are in primary school, the programme also has participants from 30 schools at the college and university levels. FEE is building FEE Academy (www.feeacademy.global) as an online teaching and learning platform to support stakeholders with their capacity building needs. Pramod Kumar Sharma Senior Director of Education (FEE) Learning About Forests (LEAF) engages students in outdoor education primarily
globally recognised label of excellence in formal educational
systems. FEE EcoCampus, though not as widespread as Eco-Schools, is being recognised as a strong approach to further sustainability education at tertiary level. The programme now engages nearly 20 million students and 1.5 million teachers from over 60,000 schools in 68 countries around the world. 121 tertiary education institutions are now on board through FEE EcoCampus. The programme marked its 25th anniversary in 2019 and in its 25th Anniversary Declaration, Eco-Schools affirmed Education for Sustainable Development as a human right and pledged to continue to engage children around the world in positive action. Eco-Schools also released documentation of its history in the publication titled ‘Changing Together’.
The Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is a leading programme engaging youth in journalism.
360,000 students from 4,835 schools in 45 countries participated in YRE in 2019. The students produced over 16,000 pieces of environmental journalism for the international YRE competitions in 2019. YRE was first conceived
Thelamama Primary School joined the Eco-School Programme 12 years ago and is the ‘oldest’ Eco-School in the Ndumo Community Project. Moses Mangamelana, the Eco- educator at Thelamama, began his teaching career in 2004 - following on fromworking at an orphanage. He believes the emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion developed through his time working at the orphanage has greatly assisted him in his teaching career. He is better equipped to understand his students’ learning-needs and cater for their well-being.
r e m a i n i n g true to your passion for the env i ronment e v e n t u a l l y sways
Moses developed a passion for the environment through attending a permaculture training course, at which he was inspired with the need to empower learners with skills that they in turn could use to become change agents. He then sought ways of improving the school environment and taught learners about sustainable food gardening. The food garden helped to provide learners with food to take home, but also equipped them with the skills and knowledge to start their own vegetable gardens at home. “
After being introduced to theWESSA Eco-Schools programme, Moses implemented the programme’s themes using his previous knowledge and training on food gardening. Attending numerous WESSA workshops helped him develop skills and increase his environmental knowledge, which in turn improved his teaching strategies. The Eco-Schools programme has taught him about perseverance. Sometimes, others might not share your vision and passion, however,
“The Eco-Schools programme made the process of teaching and learning easy for us teachers and for learners as well,” Moses said. Moses incorporates the Eco-Schools themes into most subjects, including English and Technology, making lessons more exciting for children as well as ultimately enhancing creative- and analytical thinking skills. For example, technology subjects focus on analysing different problems and coming up with solutions. Moses uses environmental concepts and elements to solve most of the problems. WESSA
The WESSA Eco-Schools programme made the process of teaching and learning easy for us teachers and for learners as well
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WATER CHALLENGES, WATER-WISE Ndumo is located in northern KwaZulu-Natal, an area that experiences adverse climatic conditions. Inadequate water supply is one of the community’s main environmental problems. Thelamama Primary School had to find solutions to irrigate the food garden and these were provided by the Eco -Schools programme! Thelamama has become a water- wise school, harvesting rainwater and using greywater for irrigation. The school continues to spread awareness about water conservation through various action projects.
Inspiring the learners to take ownership and become change agents.
All my life experiences have made me want to teach with love and be compassionate to all my learners, to make sure that all learners are included and none of them feel left out in any way. “ ” area will contain medicinal plants and is full of trees indigenous to the area. Sustainable food gardening at Thelamama Primary School has been a great classroom tool but it is also a means of connecting learners directly to the food they consume and alleviating poverty. Moses said in parting:
Schools programme and other programmes at Ndumo have been welcome influences, which have helped to mould the behaviour and thinking of learners and youth – not only in the school but in the entire community of Ndumo. CONSERVATION AWARENESS AND ACTION Thelamama Primary School has been spreading awareness on poaching in theNdumo community. Their biggest project yet is the establishment of a conservation area next to their school, which will engage members of the community. The conservation
As an Eco Teacher, Moses has observed that since Thelamama Primary School has joined the WESSA Eco-Schools programme learners at school have become more disciplined. Such programmes instil a sense of discipline in learners since they became more occupied, responsible and confident. Seeing the school environment improve – and involving them in that journey – inspires the learners to take ownership and become change agents.
Now a litter-free school, the Eco-
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Shea O’Connor Combined School
Nottingham Road, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
A SUSTAINABLE SCHOOL (RMB FUNDED) Shea O’Connor Combined School, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands town of Nottingham Road, has been an active Eco-School since 2004. As one of the longest-standing members in the
Eco-Schools Programme in South Africa, Shea O’Connor has wholly embraced the support provided by WESSA. With the combined efforts of a passionate teacher, dedicated learners and significant community involvement the school has made it their own. They have achieved amazing results, receiving much recognition and many awards – including receiving the Eco-Schools Gold Decade Award in 2019! Shea O’Connor can boast to be the first school in South Africa to ban single-use plastic.
INTEGRATING COMMUNITY WITH SUSTAINABILITY
SheaO’Connor is all about sustainability. As a school it has evolved into a teaching tool, which integrates environmental education with community awareness-raising. This approach has influenced sustainable living practices in the area.
Shea O’Connor is one of twenty KwaZulul-Natal Eco-Schools, chosen in 2015, to work on ecosystem monitoring, conservation and rehabilitation projects. Their most successful change project thus far has been the active rehabilitation of a highly transformed wetland area within the school grounds. This rehabilitated wetland has now become an outdoor learning tool. Learners regularly remove invasive alien plants and have come to understand the importance of wetlands and biodiversity. They can see first hand that a functional ecosystem ensures a reliable source of clean water.
Learners were taught how to conduct a miniSASS as one of the ways to monitor the water quality of rivers and streams. A simple and fun tool, miniSASS can be used to monitor the health of a river and measure the general quality of the water in that river.
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PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES AND PRODUCTION
Two Eco-Educators from the school completed a permaculture course, going on to implement permaculture concepts and principles at the school. The school’s permaculture food gardens have become an important feature and the garden was the overall Intermediate category winner in the 2018 National EduPlant Competition. ENVIRONMENTAL PASSION AND INSPIRATION At the provincial awards ceremony in March 2017, Eco-Educator Ms Mkhabeladescribedhowfour learners – who had been actively involved in the Eco-Schools Programme – went on to study various environmental degrees, ranging from a BA in Environmental and Life Sciences at Rhodes to a Masters Degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal! Ms Mkhabela has been so inspired by her passion for environmental education that she has enrolled for a Masters degree at Rhodes University. Her research explores the teaching and assessment practices used in environmental learning processes as well as emergent curriculum and sustainability competencies.
Shea O’Connor has parterned with Spar, supplying fresh produce from the school garden – thereby generating an income stream through this initiative. Learners at Shea O’Connor have taken control of production and encourage their parents to establish home food gardens.
The programme has helped her to reconnect learners with nature. It has further helped Ms Mkhabela to engage the learners in developing strategic plans that equip learners to identify needs, establish the actions required to meet the needs and understand how to implement the plans. SUSTAINABLE FUTURES Shea O’Connor, as a sustainable school has woven green living into the fabric of everyday school life and
have taken giant steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Learners are taking ownership of their spaces and making better choices at school and at home due to their increased environmental knowledge and awareness.
activity-oriented teaching style. “
Being involved in the WESSA Eco-Schools project has shifted my mindset from a primitive approach to a more
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Hillgrove Primary School
Newlands West, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
HEALTHY LIVING It takes a village to raise a child! “ ” Hillgrove Primary School has been exemplary in embracing whole-community engagement as an important facet of providing a well-rounded educational experience. This approach has contributed to supporting learners in managing socio-economic challenges faced in the area. One of the most pressing issues relates to substance abuse and also drug-trafficking. These issues affect many c o m m u n i t i e s t h r o u g h o u t o u r country.
partnerships eThekwini Municipality, the South African Police Service (SAPS), Durban Solid Waste, WESSA and a number of other NGOs. with
Hillgrove Primary School has taken a very determined stand to raise awareness among their learners, equipping them with the knowledge, insight and determination to change their future. For over 11 years, Hillgrove Primary School has been part of the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme. The Community and Heritage theme is central to all their action projects. Newlands West Hillgrove Primary School has played a vital role in the social health of this community by being at the centre of various engagements with stakeholders and community members. The school works together with thepolice to curb drug exposure and alcohol abuse through various drug awareness campaigns. This collaboration is providing the best opportunities for learners to be better prepared for the future. They have established strong SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY COLLABORATION
MARCHING AGAINST SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Grade 6 pupils of Hillgrove Primary School recently took part in a march, voicing their protest against drug and alcohol abuse in the community. The champions pledged to ‘say NO to drugs’ and emphasised the dangers of drug usage and abuse to their community members. This powerful step was part of a sincere commitment to claim their right to a better quality of life. The learners were addressed by a police officer from Newlands SAPS, a member of the Newlands Rehab Centre and the school principal, Mr Khan, who all urged learners to play their part in curbing substance abuse, as well as help to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all.
– HEALTHY LIFESTYLES
Hillgrove Primary is promoting healthy lifestyles by working with members of the wider community and connecting with a diversity of organisations, NGOs and other groups in the area. Integrating environmental education into the curriculum has also empowered learners at this school to develop more responsible attitudes.
Every year they have a special induction assembly where members of the Enviro Club are selected to monitor water, recycling, electricity usage and the state of the gardens. Hillgrove Primary is providing quality education with limited resources by setting high standards for themselves.
The school learners and staff are working towards excellence and – by working closely with the broader communities in the area – are working towards whole school improvement.
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Kabega Primary School
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
Schools produce a tremendous amount of waste with waste paper and cardboard from instruction materials, used electronics and food being the main broad waste items. One estimate is that 24% of school waste is recyclable paper while 50% is food waste and non-recyclable paper that can be composted. It is important that schools become active participants in recycling programs in order to help preserve the environment and to leave the planet in a better condition than we found it. After all, our youngest citizens are often the strongest change agents . Teachers, learners and their families need to work collaboratively in order to reach that goal.
LEADERS IN RECYCLING
Kabega Primary and were inspired to start their own path to successful waste management. Kabega is the only school that consistently reached the final round on the Sasol-Forever Resorts Enviro quiz from 2014 through to 2018. Kabega learners also took part in the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Regional Enviro Awards with great success. Further, the school won the Plastics SA recycling competition in 2014 and 2016! HELPING COMMUNITIES Through their dedicated recycling activities, Kabega have been involved in a number of community- based projects to help raise funds for different charities. They have partnered with community organisations such as the St Martin’s Presbyterian Church and have also worked with Bread tags for wheelchairs , which is an organisation that raises funds by recycling bread tags – inorder tohelpbuywheelchairs for those who cannot afford to buy wheelchairs for themselves. To date, with their school’s contribution, three wheelchairs have been donated through this initiative.
Kabega Primary School in Kabega Park, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, is leading the way in recycling and waste management projects. Their recycling journey began in 2012 and the school has been part of the WESSA Eco-Schools Programme for six years. Recyclingat KabegaPrimaryhasbeen instilled in all learners. They have adopted a ‘whole school approach’ where all learners are asked to bring bread tags, milk cartoons, bottle tops and many other waste products to their different recycling stations.
They recently won The Waste TradeCompany Competition , where they set the bar high by recycling a total of 13,736 kg, which amounted to a
total of 15.19 kg per learner! Their recycling efforts have inspired and encouraged other schools in the NelsonMandelaBay area to recycle , including schools such as the Bet- el Christelike Akademie who came second in the same competition. The Bet-el Christelike Akademie started their recycling journey after visiting
Through recycling and doing their part to save and nurture the planet, Kabega Primary have managed to be a beacon of hope to those in need. The Kabega Primary School community truly is spreading the Green Gospel.
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Three Crowns Primary School
Emalahleni, Eastern Cape
Picture courtesy of IPS Inter Press Service / David Oldfield
THREE CROWNS PRIMARY SCHOOL BY MR FUNDISILE ZOTHE I was born and raised in the rural village of Khavala, in Cacadu (formerly Lady Frere), in the Chris Hani District Municipality. Since 2009, I have been employed as a General Worker at Three Crowns Senior Primary School in Emalahleni. I also sit in a local traditional council as an advisor to community leaders. MY INVOLVEMENT IN THE SCHOOL’S PROJECTS
duties were to maintain the school grounds. This ranged from fixing holes in school fences to reporting and fixing water leaks. These duties expanded in 2010, when the school was selected by WESSA to have the Integrated Biogas Algal Sanitation System (IBASS) and Food Garden projects implemented at our school. These developments were exciting for me since I enjoy working with my hands. The school principal asked me to look after the food garden, which was sponsored by WESSA. This meant more time to work with plants, for which I was grateful since
I have my own home garden. I was also introduced to the IBASS system, learning how it works and how to perform general maintenance. I have never looked back! The school’s food garden is linked to the biogas system which supports the fertility of the garden with the provision of biogas slurry. The biogas slurry is a combination of of decomposed organic matter that has gone through an anaerobic digestion process. various environmental competitions and I was once fortunate enough to be The school enters
When I started at the school, my main
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part of the team when the school was a winner in the Eskom eta Awards – young designers’ category. As a reward for their innovative approach to energy efficiency, five learners attended a sustainable energy conference in Sweden and I too was invited. It was my first time on an aeroplane! We have won multiple awards for our outstanding food gardens and the IBASS because of how well it is all integrated into our school’s existence and maintenance.
WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS OF THE SCHOOL PROJECTS? In 2019 we installed a borehole at our school to assist with water supply. Prior to that, school activities would be disrupted or shortened when the entire Khavala area was without water. The borehole now also supplies water to the community, because we have been hit by recent droughts. Workshops that take place at the school also assist in knowledge- sharing and giving advice to community members on how to establish their own gardens and even their own businesses. School learners, many of whom come from disadvantaged homes, now have access to healthy produce from their own garden, while their parents also get assistance from the garden free of charge. Personally, I have learnt a lot from the project, how nature operates and how our actions impact on nature.
SUSTAINABILITY AND THE FUTURE
WESSA Schools Programme | Stories of Change | 2019/2020 25 Eating the vegetables from our food garden ensures healthy eating to us, and if people would have interest working in the garden like I do there is a lot of positive change that can happen, unemployment can be reduced. Mr Zothe “ ” Sustainability, defined as ‘the capacity to endure through time’, is an important concept for school development. It affirms the idea that a school can be given the social-, economic- and environmental tools to exercise greater self-reliance, and thereby ensure its own stability and longevity. School gardens have the capacity to provide all three factors of sustainability. Socially, they present the opportunity for solidifying school culture. Economically, they allow for more immediate and affordable access to food and provide a safety net for potential economic hardship. Finally, any green space acts environmentally to provide more liveable areas by controlling physical factors such as temperature, noise and pollution.
Brakfontein, Eastern Cape
Lilyfontein School is nestled in rural Brakfontein, in the eastern reaches of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality. Catering for just
over 700 learners from preschool to Grade 12, our school incorporates environmental programmes into its innovative curriculum.
OUR JOURNEY Lilyfontein School became part of the Eco-School programme in 2006 and we are now in the fourteenth year of our journey as one of the longest standing Eco-Schools in the Eastern Cape. Eco-based education and eco-conscious practices have become a core part of the school’s ethos. Over the years the school has initiated and maintained action projects that remain integral parts of the school’s infrastructure and curriculum.
a waste-wise Eco-School.
an Eco-School Diamond Decade Award and have hosted WESSA conferences for prospective Eco- Schools. We have even been able to showcase our eco-based curricula features at provincial geography teachers’ conferences. We hosted the Global Elephant and Rhino March in 2014. It was another honour to be voted one of the top five Eco-Schools in the country, and represent the programme at the international conference in Johannesburg in 2016!
One special feature at Lilyfontein is the eco-classroom constructed by the learners using eco-bricks. Our learners leave this school with eco- living having become part of their being and ethos. Through a variety of outdoor education programmes, adventure based learning and various action projects over each year, learners at Lilyfontein have been exposed to the options of green, sustainable ways of living. It is these lessons that they take home and hopefully integrate into their daily lives. OUR ACHIEVEMENTS Lilyfontein has received a number of accolades and accomplished some really great achievements over the years. The school has achieved
The Permaculture Garden, which was initially a hidden away little veggie patch, has developed into a large, two-zoned area. The garden now boasts a fully-fledged eco-education space and permanent raised beds, which learners tend and nurture during weekly classes. One of the school’s winning formulas has been finding a way to get every learner involved in environmental action at every phase of school. Lilyfontein’s recycling system has developed over the years from picking through paper in a small room to a fully functioning recycling centre that processes tonnes of waste each year. The recycling programme generates funds for the school and we proudly consider ourselves to be
We have been one of the top three schools for the last three years in the Buffalo City ‘Call To Action Recycling
Campaign’, winning with a collection of 7.5 tonnes of recycling in 2019.
Lilyfontein is incredibly proud to be part of the Eco-Schools programme, which has inspired this little school to do big things.
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