There’s something in the air this spring and itis inspiring! PMB Eco-Schools all over Msunduzi have raised their hands for a healthy environment, healthy rivers and healthy communities. Schools have joined hands in recycling, celebrating clean-up campaigns, arbour day tree plantings, green days, climate change youth summits, creating food gardens, landscaping and gardening projects!
To hear children laughing, dancing and having fun is always an uplifting experience but to see them singing and dancing while picking up litter, planting trees and pledging to love the land and take care of our Earth is a very moving experience.
Opening the Youth Environmental Climate Change Summit held recently at Maritzburg College, chairperson of the Martizburg College Eco-Committee, Siseko Khumalo said:
‘The African Continent will endure the most hardships when it comes to global climate change if we do not act now. Our objectives and aims as the young people that lead the Eco-Committee are to ensure that in the midst of a continent that has fallen prey to famine and conflict due to the injustices of the first world, we educate and seek ways in which we may work together to ensure that we build a country and continent that we can be proud to call our home.
The Youth Summit was an opportunity for twelve participating high schools to each represent a country of the world and put forward policies that will ensure that their country reduces their impact on the environment, continue efforts into the future and encourages other countries to follow in their footsteps.
Translating vision into reality
Showing just how to translate this vision into a local reality, over forty schools and organisations join forces with the Duzi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) in cleaning up our city and its rivers this week. Over 300 learners from Khethindlelenhle Primary were the first to give a hand by cleaning a section of the Pata River on Tuesday, collecting over 200 bags of rubbish! A further 3000 learners from more than twenty-four schools will be cleaning up routes and streams around their schools on Friday 17th marking World Coastal and River Clean-up Day.
Taking another approach in spreading the message about healthy rivers and healthy communities, learners from primary schools in Pietermaritzburg and Howick areas are hard at work creating artworks for the annual DUCT ‘Living Waterways’ art campaign. They are looking forward to having their work displayed and raising environmental awareness for a beautiful and clean environment to play in at the Liberty Midlands Mall as part of the Midlands Mall ‘Re-Think’ Green Week in October.
For seven schools in the Northern suburbs, September arbour day activities included the Earthorganization’s ‘Green Day’ celebrations. Aimed at improving recycling education and biodiversity conservation in schools, the Earthorganization teamed up with PMB Eco-Schools and Mr Litter and Friends to present a programme including environmental learning, song and dance and storytelling followed by tree-planting ceremonies.
Mr Litter and friends show the way
The Earth Organization program involves learners in simple exercises that encourage learners to identify the different recyclable materials correctly. Great excitement follows with the appearance of Mr Litter! Pietermaritzburg’s litter problems would be a thing of the past if Mr Litter and friends together with Pietermaritzburg’s Eco-Schools showed the municipal waste management staff how to not only pick up litter and clean the streets effectively, but to sing and dance, rap and clap while doing so!!!
The third part of the programme introduces the DUCT art campaign story and little hearts open to Mtini, the Otter as he goes on a long journey to find out what has happened to his river. At Eastwood Primary, learners had a very effective method to complete their ‘Green Day’ tree planting activities! ‘Let’s just use our hands!’ said the eager smiling faces. And do they did, and very effectively too!
This term, Henryville Primary along with many other schools, is making compost, designing and planting gardens in preparation for their Sunday Tribune Garden and Leisure Show model garden exhibit, Inzuwendhle Primary and others are ‘Learning to Build a Better World’ using WESSA Sharenet environmental education resources, Villa Maria, The Grange and a host of other schools are improving and planting their gardens, Khethindlelendle Primary are reclaiming their eroded areas and making a beautiful tyre garden and Shri Vishnu Primary have been chosen to showcase their energy and sustainability solar cooking project in Johannesburg. Izwelisizwe Primary is running a successful community vegetable gardening project.
Many PMB Eco-Schools are busy preparing their portfolio of annual activities that will share all the stories of these schools, their educators and learners, their challenges and successes as they move towards integrating environmental learning and improved environmental management and community participation.
Persevering in the face of difficult changes
Recently Nkosinathi Mncwabe represented Alexander High excelling at the Youth for Change Summit held in Johannesburg recently and organised by Project 90 x 2030 a programme aimed at reducing our carbon emissions drastically by 2030. Nkosinathi shares a youth message for a world that is safe, a world that perseveres in the face of difficult changes and is committed to reducing our carbon emissions. He stands for a world that respects the environment that is accountable for its actions.
Sixteen year old Maritzburg Eco-Committee chairperson, Siseko Kumalo has arranged a meeting to discuss expanding Youth Environmental programmes in Pietermaritzburg. As I listen to his request, the sound of his voice it transports me back to the geometry room at Martizburg College where the recent Environmental Youth Summit took place. I remember the room full of eager, interested and well prepared learners and looking forward to giving their presentations and participating in the ensuing discussion.
Siseko Kumalo ends his opening address by saying ‘We are gathered here today to further demonstrate active participation, at local, regional, provincial and even national levels of government in influencing decision making in our country. As the leaders of tomorrow we need to make a concerted effort to ensure that we leave behind a greener and safer world for the next generations to come.’
The sound of this voice brings hope.
Marching to raise awareness
On Wednesday 21st September, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife held a march/walk starting at the City Hall to raise awareness for Climate Change and COP 17 when world leaders come together in Durban later in the year, to decide on committing to a future path that will be life-sustaining for our Earth. PMB Eco-Schools encouraged all senior primary and secondary schools to walk together with city leaders, concerned groups of citizens and NGOs and in so doing, lead the way to living in harmony and loving the Earth.