WESSA Eco-Schools Programme, South Africa
A project by Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA)
Engaging hands, heads & hearts for the SDG’s – a holistic approach to a sustainable life.
The Eco-Schools Programme is Education for Sustainable Development in action, aiming at providing communities with the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future by integrating priority sustainable development issues into teaching and learning. The Programme provides the hands-on experience of problem-solving skills (critical and creative thinking & decision making), which then become competences of an active citizen. Open to all institutions of learning in South Africa from pre-schools to tertiary institutions, engaging all relevant stakeholders. Since 2003 more than 12 600 schools across all nine provinces have participated on the Programme, of which over 6 000 have sustained their environmental projects for 3 to 12 years, involving more than 640 000 learners and 16 000 teachers. With over 50% of the content in some school subjects being environmental in nature, Eco-Schools makes a positive contribution towards improving education in South Africa. The Programme consists of three structural elements - The 7-Steps Framework, environmental Themes, and a constructive feedback Assessment process to improve projects for awards. To be successful, the Programme requires support from school leaders and the Board, as well as long-term commitment and the willingness to involve students in decision-making,. This challenges students to engage in tackling environmental problems at a level where they can see tangible results, spurring them on to realise that they really can make a difference. There are eleven themes and each year a school adopts another theme and establishes an active learning project under that theme. Over time and through commitment to the process, improvements are seen in learning outcomes, attitudes and behaviour of students and the local community, as well as the environment. Evidence of success in these areas lead to a school being awarded the international ‘Green Flag’.
About the Organization /Team
WESSA is a South African environmental organisation which aims to initiate and support high impact social, environmental and conservation projects to promote participation in caring for the Earth. Since 1926, we have proactively engaged with the challenges and opportunities presented by our country’s unique natural heritage and the social and economic systems that depend on it. WESSA works with schools to support environmental education in the curriculum, leading to improved environmental learning and management at schools, and action in the local community. The Programme encourages learners to become the next generation of environmental leaders and custodians of our Earth.