Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Eco-Clubs have been operating since 2003. Our Eco-Clubs take place weekly at the rural primary schools with whom we’ve partnered. These one-hour sessions follow a structured curriculum, giving all learners who are interested in the environment a chance to meet, learn, discuss and expand their knowledge of environmental issues. We also touch on life skills topics, with the aim of inspiring confidence, positive self-esteem and leaders in our children.
This year, we are launching our new Eco-Club curriculum. Lisa Witherden, CITW Environmental Education Resource Developer says: “We’ve been working hard at designing a new curriculum, one which is user-friendly for all of our teachers across the seven countries in which we operate. We’ve also streamlined our lessons with the aim of making them more impactful for our children, by creating lessons which are a balance between theory and practical tasks. We focus on pressing environmental issues, as well as life skills lessons, all with the hope of inspiring our children to become leaders in conservation”.
In order to ensure that this curriculum is effective, we’ve implemented a piloting project for our new lessons in various schools in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Our team of Eco-Mentors in the schools (school teachers or community members), has been supplied with in-depth feedback forms which will be collected at the end of each term. The idea is for us to then tweak the lessons, ensuring that they are the best they could be for our programme.
“Based on the feedback from our teachers, we will make relevant changes to this new curriculum before we send it out across all of our regions. Of course, a new curriculum means more exciting training with our Eco-Mentors, one of the best parts of my job!” explains Lisa.
“We’ve structured our new Eco-Club curriculum to run over a three year period, catering for the grades we work with – grades five to seven. Each year has three Eco-Club curriculum books, one per term which run over a seven week period. Each term focuses on seven Eco-Club lessons on both environmental and life skills topics, as well as an environmentally themed project which is an ongoing assignment for the Eco-Club. For example, our Year One – Term One project is to build a Tippy Tap. Each term also has a conservation themed debate, where children are encouraged to voice their opinions, concerns and solutions around vital conservation issues”, she continued.
Through our Eco-Clubs, we are able to reach more children in our communities on a regular basis, with the ultimate aim of creating learning sanctuaries which uplift and care for our children and conserve our planet. In this way, we hope to inspire the children to care for the environment so that they can become the custodians of these areas in the future. We are creating leaders in conservation, one Eco-Club session at a time.
Read Sarah Adams’ (CITW Zimbabwe Community Sustainability and Evaluation Trainer) report on how much fun our Zimbabwe team had distributing our pilot curriculum!