Motswedi wa Thuto Education Centre in Botswana, was founded in 1993 to drive conservation education in the Boteti region. It offers awareness-raising talks and training programmes, and promotes environmental clubs at schools in the local district and beyond.
The Environment School Club was started in 2005 under the leadership of Mr Kay Soopu, who developed relationships with schools in the communities surrounding the mining areas. Learners from different grades would join Environment Clubs once a week to discuss environmental issues and work on small projects, such as protecting indigenous trees.
Once a year, each school’s Environment Club visits the conservation area to experience the landscape and wildlife. Every year, between twenty and thirty schools from Botswana visit these conservation sites.
The Environment Clubs help young people to understand their impact on the planet and take direct action in its defence. Activities so far have included labelling trees in and around the school campus, creating a tree nursery, setting up a bird bath, identifying and logging birds and even putting on plays with environmental themes.
Staff at The Diamond Route’s Education Centres also encourage pupils to protect the environment back on campus by coming up with new ways to conserve water, hosting clean-up campaigns and getting involved in community recycling.
The combination of field trips and on-campus activities really brings home to pupils the mutual dependency of man and nature and the staff’s infectious enthusiasm gives them the motivation to do something about it.
Onkemetse Strydom is a teacher at Livingstone House School in Botswana which offers free education for 400 children of mine employees and other local residents. As well as teaching in grade 3, Onkemetse runs the school’s Environment Club. Twice a week, the club’s 40 members meet to discuss environmental issues and visit the nearby game park. They also do activities such as tree planting.
Onkemetse has noticed that the Environmental School Club has had knock-on benefits in her pupils’ home lives, where their new-found knowledge and enthusiasm has rubbed off on their friends and families.