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South African Schools Go For Green
The Eco-Schools program in South Africa combines two problem areas, education, and environment, to empower teachers and learners to find solutions.
Each year, young people in South African schools write their final examinations after twelve years of schooling, and each year the pass rate is low and those qualifying for university entry needs help with essays. Even more concerning is that South African children are performing worse than children in less developed African countries. In 2000, the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) tested Grade 6 learners in 14 countries (Gustafsson 2015) and placed South Africa ninth, behind neighboring Mozambique. In light of this education crisis, is it feasible to promote environmental education at schools when some would argue that functional literacy and numeracy are needed? The answer is most definitely yes and the tool that has been identified as South Africa’s premier program is Eco-Schools (Rosenberg 2015).
Location of Eco-Schools
Eco-Schools are an international green awards program run in over 50 countries by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) from a head office in Denmark. In South Africa, it is supported by WWF-SA and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and funded by NAMPAK, De Beers Mining, and others.
South African Eco-Schools
The success of Eco-Schools in South Africa is that rather than giving teachers extra work to do, it actually serves teachers to do their work better. Forward planning, better time management, and recognition for work well done are all part and parcel of the Eco-School philosophy and factors that have been listed as solutions for South African schools.
In South Africa, Eco-Schools must not only show real environmental learning is taking place in the classroom but also take on challenging action projects. As the essay writing helpers say, these action projects may save the school resources, raise awareness, promote conservation, improve the school environment and promote sustainability. In 2015, Eco-Schools were recognized in a Rural Education report commissioned by the Minister of Education. The report stated ‘The success of the Eco-Schools program, albeit on a small scale, demonstrates how a fairly simple and cost-effective program, can strengthen community participation in schooling and unleash the potential for integrating knowledge across learning areas in ways that promote learner activity. The Eco-Schools project appears to have a strong impact on the ‘ethos’ of schools with learners, educators, and communities developing a strong sense of ownership and pride in their school.’ The beauty of Eco-Schools is that rural and urban schools can participate on an equal footing as they do not compete with each other but rather with themselves. An Eco-School must be able to show improved environmental learning and action within the year of registration in order to qualify for green certification. Schools are assessed each year by means of a portfolio of work. After five years of active participation, schools qualify for the prestigious international Green Flag.