From the beginning of 2020 until recently, the Covid-19 pandemic cast a dark shadow over Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Botswana’s programme in our partner-schools. With schools adopting new tactics to curb the spread of the disease among children and teachers, all organisations running extracurricular activities across Botswana, including Children in the Wilderness, took a hit. The Ministry of Education and Skills Development suspended all extramural activities in schools to redirect teachers’ attention to fighting Covid-19 and prioritise teaching.
For almost two years, CITW programme activities remained suspended as we waited for the Covid-19 cases to drop. And eventually in September 2022, following the plummeting numbers of new infections locally, and the government decision to relax some of the measures designed to curb the spread of disease, we were given the green light to fully engage and have access to our partner-schools.
Going back into our partner-schools, we faced a new reality – where some of the long-serving teachers in the programme had been transferred to other schools, and in some cases, all the teachers we used to work with were transferred. We had to introduce the programme to new school heads who assumed office in some of our partner-schools. However, we were met with a wave of new teachers who showed enthusiasm, courage and passion to join the programme. And on yet another positive note, in June of 2021 we managed to squeeze in an MoU with the FNBB Foundation to run the CITW programme at Parakarungu Primary School.
Our efforts are now geared at preparing for 2023, with our plans being to take the programme back to its original momentum before Covid-19 – and what’s a better way to do this than running Eco-Mentor training for all our teachers.
The training, which took place from 24-26 October 2022, shows 22 teachers from all CITW Botswana partner-schools converge in Maun from a three-day interactive training session. The training also served as a reunion of all teachers in the programme, where they could once again interact and share ideas on how to secure a sustainable future for the programme in their individual schools, as well as share experiences based on their past engagements and participation within the programme.
The training also served to welcome Parakarungu Primary School to the programme, and for them to get to know and meet other team members on the programme. For teachers who have been with the programme over the years, it was a welcome refresher after a long pause. And we would like for them to share ideas with the new teachers, to make their induction to the programme easier and smoothly.
Most importantly, this training served to equip new teachers to the programme with relevant information, tactics and capabilities, to run programme activities smoothly and efficiently – which ultimately translates to fun, engaging and informative Eco-Club sessions with the children at school.
Also present at the training were Regional Environmental Education Co-ordinators from South-East, Chobe and North-West districts. The co-ordinators were invited to come and observe the training, and give guidance based on the need for the programme to align with and complement the primary school curriculums on matters of Environmental Education.
Noted Moalosi Lebekwe, Wilderness Botswana Stakeholder Manager: “Eco-Mentor training forms the basis of CITW programme activities. After almost two years of limited or no programme activities in our partner-schools, I am delighted that we are making this important move towards full engagement with our partner-schools again”.