Marine Week_Day2: Environmental Education
October 8, 2019

by Lauren Moriarty

National Marine Week is very effective in community and school outreach programmes. Environmental organizations all over the country hold several exhibits; educational programs and activities to engage with the younger generation on issues that face our oceans. As National Marine Week is led by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, members of the DEA visit schools around the country to engage the learners on the topic.

One of the main education tools that are used to create awareness is clean-ups. The clean-ups, whether they are at the school; on the beach; or in a local community encourage those living in the area to have a cleaner and healthier environment. This litter collection and further recycling process also generate a sustainable income for the local community. The information provided at the clean-ups further helps to create a greater awareness, as to the sources of litter from land and how we can be part of decreasing the amount of litter that enters our marine and coastal environments.

NVT 2019 International Coastal Clean Up Day on Robberg Beach, Plettenberg Bay (Top) and in the local Village of Kurland (Bottom)

Community education is also a vital part of creating awareness. Whereby, we take a holistic approach to conservation education, which sees us operating across communities from preschool children all the way to adult user groups.

The Nature’s Valley Trust’s education team reach over 5000 community members each year with various curriculum-based initiatives. It is one of the most significant environmental education initiatives in the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa. These initiatives help us to get others to have a greater understanding of what conservation entails, and why it is so important to incorporate it into their lives.

We work closely with many schools, where we run eco-clubs linked to the internationally acclaimed WESSA Eco-Schools program. There are 17 specially designed outdoor classrooms in our conservation education program, where we have incorporated all the learning areas of the school curriculum, where children receive a hands-on experience in nature. The annual Adopt-A-Beach program which teaches children about the marine environment and how to protect it is also a big part of the conservation education program. It is currently running with 3 schools, totalling 90 learners with 28 outings.

All lessons are conducted outside of the classroom, where the learners are able to get practical experience in the surrounding environment. There are seven lessons throughout the year, each lesson with important topics and a valuable environmental message. The seven topics aim to have the learners develop important awareness skills for current environmental issues and to have them carry on the message through their family and friends to ensure a healthier, cleaner, and safer environment for future generations. Each lesson provides descriptive information on the lesson topic, and essential environmental processes that are looked at deeper with practical exercises/experiments. This is to ensure the learners are not just having to absorb information but also getting a hands-on experience to understand what they are learning and how it is used in real-life applications.

Adopt-A-Beach Lesson on Sand (top) and Adopt-A-Beach lesson on Rocky Shores (bottom)

There are also programmes created around environmental calendar days and environmental themes, such as National Marine Week. This helps promote a cleaner environment for a greener future, instilling better use and management of waste. Other environmental projects include our annual greening event in Kurland; monthly school clean-ups; and recycling projects, which involve the whole school.

The Kurland Greening event, which fell on Mandela Day 2019 is an annual environmental project. The greening event is run in conjunction with tsitsi-tuiniers gardening club in Kurland. There have been approximately 2000 trees planted to date and is led by NVT. This year was the 9th annual greening.

2019 Kurland Greening event (top left & top right), Crags Primary School Clean-up (bottom left), Formosa School clean-up (Bottom right) and Greenwood Bay College School clean-up (middle).

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