About two hours outside of Lusaka, and down a muddy dirt road filled with holes and bumps, lie two schools, Namanongo and Ndubulua. At these rural schools most days are quiet, but on March 30th, the atmosphere was buzzing with a sense of excitement, as students and teachers prepared to participate in a Special Environmental Education Day (SEED).
In the project area for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) – Zambia’s first verified REDD+ project – BCP is supporting the Environmental Education Program in four schools, including Ndubulula and Namanongo, as well as two other community schools in Mweeshang’ombe and Chilimba. The Environmental Education Program is implemented with funding from USAID under the Community Forests Program (CFP), and is one of the many livelihood activities taking place in the local communities around LZRP in the Rufunsa District.
The Environmental Education Program is a year-long program targeted for Grade Six students, following a curriculum that provides weekly classes, as well as interactive activities and events, such as quarterly SEED days, where students, teachers and schools can showcase their learning. The Environmental Education Program curriculum is based on the Lolesha Luangwa Conservation Education Programme implemented by the Frankfurt Zoological Society as part of the North Luangwa Conservation Project.
SEEDs are intended to give participating students, teachers, and schools the opportunity to showcase their environmental learning and celebrate environmental education through exciting, hands-on activities involving the wider community and partners. For this particular SEED event in March, representatives from BCP, the Forestry Department, and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services attended, and gave presentations that added their perspectives about the importance of forests, wildlife, and their work with BCP.
At Ndubulula School, the sixth grade students who are part of the Environmental Education Program appeared nervous but excited with the arrival of the visitors. They sat at their desks in smart blue uniforms and giggled anxiously. The classroom was filled with posters that depicted the water cycle and listed reasons why forests are important. Younger students crowded outside the windows of the classroom and peeked in excitedly to see the program. The sixth graders, initially hesitant and shy, came alive after introductions and broke into a song welcoming BCP and their partners. Three students gave a presentation on people’s roles in protecting the forest. They listed several different reasons why forests are important, including being part of the water cycle, food sources from the fruit growing on trees, and helping to keep the land fertile. After the presentations from the Government partners, students asked lots of good questions, and then the class broke out into traditional song and dance.
After winding up at Ndubulula School, the BCP team spent the rest of the afternoon at Namanongo School. Here, the entire school, grades one through seven, gathered for the SEED program! The students and teachers collected desks and chairs and sat under a large tree in the schoolyard. After introductions and presentations made by the Forestry Department and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services, the sixth graders underwent a short quiz on what they had learned, so far, from the Environmental Education Program. They were asked several questions including three causes of deforestation, what a reptile is, and what conservation agriculture is. This was followed by a skit about poachers hunting animals in the national park and then being tracked and apprehended by scouts from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Services. The program ended with students singing and performing traditional dancing.
Mrs. Blessings Mwabi, one of the Environmental Education Program teachers at Ndubulula, says that students at the start of the program asked; “Why, should we conserve the forests?” But over time she described that: “The program offers a lot of explanations and sensitizations about the forests, and here it is very much destroyed, but now they [the students] know the importance of saving the forests. I’m able to really see how the pupils as learners are interested in their land, their forests, and conserving it.” She further explained that sometimes it’s difficult for communities to understand the importance of forests when they sell charcoal to make money, but these students now have the knowledge to go home and talk to their parents about conservation and forest protection.
The next SEED program is scheduled to take place in late June or early July.
This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.