Youth gather at Marakele National Park for Environmental Education

Jul 1, 2014

South African National Parks (SANParks) hosted its Environmental Education weekend for the youth at Marakele National Park. The weekend camp was attended by a total of 60 learners from Gauteng and is part of SANParks’ Kudu Green School Initiative (KGSI), an environmental programme which started in 2010 that is targeted at the urban school-going children.

"This initiative strives to enable learners of all ages to gain an understanding of the climate’s influence on society, as well as appreciation of the environment they are living in and it targets learners from urban areas", said Ms Maria Moate, Chairperson of the Gauteng Environmental Alliance and Head of Environmental Education at SANParks.

She said the reasons behind the selection of the schools in urban areas was that urban-based schools, especially those in previously disadvantaged communities, have had minimum or no exposure to national parks, awareness of conservation issues and opportunities in the environmental field.

Moreover, the weekend camp got the learners to discuss and come up with environmental solutions towards sustainable living, assisted leaners to be able to solve environmental problems that they have at their schools and also gave them exposure to the wilderness.

Two of the learners shared their experience of the camp. Boitshepo Makgaka (12) from Mlokotwa Dube Primary School said that he had learnt to save water. “We waste a lot of water and when I get home I am going to tell my family to save water and recycle.”

Thuli Mongatane (12) from Sihluziwe Primary School said that she had seen animals that she had never before seen. “I would like to bring my children here one day and teach them to respect nature.”

According to Ms Moate the KGSI started with only seven schools but “at the moment we have 20 schools from different districts in Gauteng that are registered under the Programme. This initiative enables learners and educators involved to gain an understanding of climate impact on humanity”.

The hosting of the programme rotates and it’s extended to some parks and nature reserves.  According to Ms Moate “since its inception, this programme has hosted over 1300 learners in various parks, the highest number ever hosted was in 2012 at our Wilgenhof Environmental Education Centre in Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This is a clear indication of a role that an organisation such as SANParks can play in the lives of many young learners and educators.”

KGSI in partnership with Gauteng Alliance for Environmental Education is supported by Rand Water and Delta Environmental Centre and endorsed by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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