There can be no doubt that environmental education is absolutely vital in today’s world. This is particularly true for young people living near protected wild spaces and game reserves. These children need to learn to think critically and perhaps most importantly, be made aware of how their individual choices and actions affect everything around them… Introducing EEP! Environmental Education Programme: a collaboration between Blue Sky Society Trust, Mpilonhle, &Beyond and Africa Foundation.
EEP! aims to inspire primary school children to care about, and understand the value of, protecting wildlife and conserving wild spaces. EEP! is being piloted and launched in northern KwaZulu-Natal, initially targeting the schools in rural communities surrounding Phinda Game Reserve. Around 4,000 learners will participate in the project’s first phase. Older learners in Grades 6 and 7 will also have the opportunity to visit Phinda twice a year on guided tours with experienced game rangers.
Heading up the development and creative side of the project is Kirsten Horne, a TV producer who’s spent the last 12 years making wildlife films. She’s absolutely passionate about the preservation of wildlife and believes that instilling a sense of wonder for the natural world in the minds of young children is the only way to conserve our precious and limited wild spaces and the animals that live there.
Developed together with a team of talented teachers, designers, and translators, EEP! is an integrated learning programme that encourages young people to think about the world they live in, and show them how everything fits together in an intricate and delicate web…how animals, plants and humans are all connected. If there is no understanding of this amongst the youth, there is little hope for a sustainable future.
Blue Sky Society Trust is developing the EEP! learning material and will be training educators to roll out the conservation programme at schools. The subject of science and natural science is a vital part of the South African (and international) curriculum, and with the many environmental issues facing us (poaching, bushmeat trade, pet trade, habitat loss, pollution, climate change, etc), there is no better time than now to instil in young learners a love for nature and encourage a sense of wonder in the natural world.
It’s a complex topic though, and educators are not only busy but often lack the knowledge and resources to teach certain concepts. This is where EEP! comes in – to fill in the gaps, to provide lesson plans for the teachers, and fun activities for the learners. The curriculum focuses on conservation and ecology, involving classroom discussions and hands-on practical activities both in the classroom as well as in nature reserves.
“In the end, we will only conserve what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” ~ Baba Dioum, Senegalese Environmentalist