- South African public schools increasingly are adding environmental conservation into the curriculum of their pupils. The implementation of the international Eco-Schools Programme in South Africa is celebrated as a great success by environmentalists and as a resource for the increasingly environmentally aware nation.
The first year of a pilot project to introduce the Eco-Schools Programme - designed to encourage curriculum-based action for a healthy environment - into South Africa "has been extremely successful," the conservation group WWF says today. Over 140 South African schools registered with the programme in 2003, nearly three times the expected number.
The Eco-Schools Programme is an internationally recognised award scheme that accredits schools that make a commitment to continuously improving their school's environment. The programme was launched in South Africa in May 2003, with funding granted from Nampak, through WWF-South Africa, to the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) to co-ordinate its development and implementation.
In the pilot year, 2003, over 140 schools registered with the programme, exceeding the expectations of only 50 schools registering. A further 70 schools have already registered with the programme for 2004, WWF informs today. So far, 55 schools have been awarded Eco-School status and flags.
The Eco-Schools Programme aims to raise awareness of, and support action in, environmental and sustainable development issues through lesson plans and activities linked to a school's curriculum. The programme is designed to help students to get in touch with the environment in real terms, introduce them to the concept of conservation, and get them involved in their communities.
The South African schools have initiated many exciting projects in their school grounds as part of their Eco-School work. These include a variety of conservation projects ranging from the development of water-wise gardens and food gardens to monitoring and conservation of water and energy.
Many schools also have chosen to become involved in re-using and recycling of waste materials. Students, teachers, parents, and community members have all been encouraged to get involved in a process of whole-school development through the Eco-School programme.
- Support from South Africa's National Department of Education has been important for the programme, WWF says in a statement. For South Africa, a nation increasingly creating revenues from its unique nature and wildlife, environmental conservation has become a key policy during the last years.
- The Department of Education is happy to partner the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa to promote Eco-Schools, comments Kader Asmal, South African Minister of Education. "This partnership has ensured that the Eco-Schools Programme in South Africa has reflected the exciting changes in the curriculum and that the programme brings the principle of a healthy environment into all learning areas," he adds.
According to WWF, future developments for Eco-Schools in South Africa include finding funding for and supporting many more nodes, improving the materials for schools and developing a selection of school examples and ideas to encourage other schools.
Eco-Schools originated in Europe and is a programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education. Internationally, there are about 10,000 schools registered with Eco-Schools Programmes in 27 countries. Of these, 3,500 schools have been awarded Eco-School status and flags.
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