The Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Schools Programme ‘My Environment My Future My Responsibility’ – The Mukuvisi Woodlands– Engaging schools in education for sustainable development through School Environmental Clubs

Nature Reserve and Environment Centre

The Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Schools Programme ‘My Environment My Future My Responsibility’ – The Mukuvisi Woodlands– Engaging schools in education for sustainable development through School Environmental Clubs

Education plays a vital role in encouraging the sustainable lifestyles required to care for our environment. The Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Schools Programme aims to achieve sustainable environmental management by integrating environmental education into the national curriculum and empowering teachers and learners to implement environmental policies at school level.

The Eco-Schools Programme follows a model used in over 52 countries worldwide, including South Africa. To meet the challenge of environmental stewardship, capacity building is key to success. The Programme provides school children with hands-on experiences and opportunities to tackle issues and concerns in their own environments. They gain knowledge and develop a positive attitude towards solving environmental problems.

Because of their hands-on and self-study components, projects in this Programme allow children to develop skills such as time management, working with people, public speaking, self-motivation, observation, recording data, and classifying and identifying issues.

The programme helps foster the development of children's potential by exposing them to new situations. Children stretch their capacity to handle the world, improving their self-image, confidence and autonomy in the process. It also helps inspire children’s interest in and appreciation of their environment.  

They gain an awareness of burning current environmental issues such as global warming, pollution, wildlife habitat and wetland destruction and loss, deforestation, over-population and poor sanitation, and learn at a young age that these problems are everyone’s problems and that each individual can be part of their solution.

This Environmental Education Programme was developed by the Mukuvisi Woodlands Education Unit as an adaptation of the Eco-Schools Programme practised globally. The Programme aims to improve environmental management at the School and facilitate active environmental learning.  

Schools Environmental Clubs choose a project of their choice from the list of Themes, while teachers draw on these practical projects to strengthen environmental learning at the school. The Programme is linked directly with the Plan of Action outlined in the Millennium Declaration, signed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which aims to deliver Agenda 21 Commitments by involving people of all ages and nationalities through formal school education, training of staff and general awareness raising.

The Eco-Schools Programme is also in line with the Zimbabwe National Environmental Education Policy and Strategies (July 2004, revised June 2009). This is a Schools Development Programme designed to encourage whole-school learning and action for a healthy environment.

To date, over 100 educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities, have subscribed to the Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Schools Programme, signing up and attending one or more events organised by the Mukuvisi Woodlands or starting a Change Project at their school or both.

What the Member Schools do

This environmental learning programme seeks to improve environmental management, beginning at the school. The School Environmental Clubs choose a Theme, then propose and develop a project of their choice.

Themes include:

  • Water                   
  • Waste Management         
  • Nature and Biodiversity
  • Resource use (Soil, Energy, Water)         
  • Healthy living and Nutrition
  • Local and Global Issues                            
  • Community and Heritage

The Club Patron, usually a teacher, liaises with Club Members to identify a problem around their theme and suggest possible solutions, to be implemented through a practical hands-on Change Project. 

Possible projects

Teachers draw on these practical projects to strengthen environmental learning at the school. The project must offer children a hands-on experience and a chance to develop knowledge and positive attitudes about tackling environmental issues. It must allow children to develop skills such as time management, working effectively with other people and public speaking. Club Members identify an environmental problem within their environment and suggest a practical solution.

Some examples

  • Gardening: Composting and nutrition, herbal gardens.  
  • Water harvesting.
  • Agro-forestry: Establishment of woodlots, orchards, raising tree seedlings in nurseries and tree care.
  • BirdLife Clubs – bird audits, identifying and monitoring of birds.
  • Wildlife Clubs - carry out wildlife audits, awareness campaigns and quiz.
  • Environmental Awareness Campaigns – clean-ups, commemorations of environmental days. Sustainable land management. Bio-monitoring of environmental resources:  Environmental monitoring; adopting specific environmental resources such as a wetland or a river near the school and carrying out regular audits.  
  • Waste management –the “R” concept of Re-Using, Re-Cycling, Reducing, Recovering, and Re-Making.
  • Mapping of natural resources including degraded areas. Soil erosion control – gulley reclamation and rehabilitation;
  • Sustainable forest management.   
  • Bio-monitoring of rivers and streams, including taking audits of pollution.

Some Examples 

Theme

Possible Project Activities

Resource management
Water, Energy, Soil

Adopt a river/stream and/or a wetland area near the school and monitor pollution levels.  Do the clean-up.  Monitoring is done to ensure the habitat is protected and preserved.  The school will ensure that there is no illegal development or destruction of resources. BirdLife clubs are formed to monitor and study bird species that live in the area.

The school carries out energy and water audits. The students do presentations at assemblies, to encourage not leaving lights and water taps on.

Dongas/gullies in the area are filled in; plants are planted across them as part of this land reclamation.

Local and global issues Research into local impact of observed climate change. Start on mitigation projects like tree planting, start a woodlot, a school orchard, a plantation and other school greening projects.  Hold debates and discussions on environmental degradation. Invite a resource person to talk to your school or to cluster zones.
Climate change

Mitigating climate change through tree growing, nursery, woodlots and orchard for school, water harvesting and conservation farming.

Counteracting the greenhouse effect, starting renewable energy projects.

Pollution and waste management Collect cans, bottles, and plastics for recycling, biodegradables for composting and gardening.
Nutrition and Community issues Herb and nutrition gardens.  School clubs sort waste and establish compost heaps which supply the school garden. Children are given some produce from these gardens while some are sold to boost club funds.  As an example, discussions and debates on how the local motor industry could assist have been held.
Conserving Biodiversity Projects to protect and preserve local wetland habitats identified as homes of diverse animal species such as specified birds, frogs and fish.
Wildlife Wildlife clubs hold quizzes and education campaigns on protected and threatened animals and observe designated Days such as World Wildlife Day, World Rhino Day, World Animal Day and take part in local initiatives like African Wild Dog, Leopard and Cheetah Quizzes held for schools.
Environmental Awareness campaigns Schools get together annually at venues where information is shared through presentations on a World Theme for that year. These have been commemorated so far: World Wetlands Day, World Water day, International Migratory Birds Day, World Wildlife Day, World Environment Day, World Rhino Day.

Annual Awards

The Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Schools Programme at year end does an evaluation of School Project Feasibility and identifies Environmental Steward Award Winners.

To be considered, an Eco-Report or School Profile Report must be submitted, containing all of the following, which are the minimum requirements for Eco-Schools status.  All components must be clearly labelled.  Reports are assessed on the quality and depth of these sections, not only on their presence in the portfolio.  

  • The school profile and list of previous Eco-Schools activities, if any:
  • Description of context                       
  • Eco-Committee members
  • Eco-Committee record of meetings      
  • The School Eco-Code
  • Whole school review (completed, with reflections)
  • Curriculum and calendar review (completed for each theme)
  • Planning framework (completed for each theme)
  • Project outcomes (including audit or other enquiry, for each theme)
  • Curriculum outcomes (for each theme)         
  • Lesson reports (three for each theme)
  • Examples of learners’ work (for each theme)

BECOMING AN ECO-SCHOOL

Any educational institution in Zimbabwe, including Early Learning Centres, Primary and Secondary Schools, whether public or private, and Tertiary institutions such as Teacher Training Colleges and Universities are eligible. Teachers need the background to initiate environment clubs as they enter new schools on graduation and deployment. It takes a passionate teacher to lead an environmental club. The administration must give consent and the whole school is expected to participate, including the Teacher–Parent body (SDC/SDA).  

REGISTRATION 

Interested schools can collect an Application Form from Mukuvisi Woodlands Education Centre, complete and submit it. On submission a Starter Pack is supplied.

To become an Eco-Schools Club Member, work must be done both at classroom and whole school level.  The following steps are recommended:

Form an Eco-Club: ideally the Enviro–Club leads to the transformation of the whole school into an Eco-School involving teachers, parents, SDA/SDC/PTA and other community members.

Write an Eco-Code: A statement of the ideals for which the school strives in environmental management and learning, and a description of how teachers and learners will conduct themselves in this regard.

Carry out an environmental audit and choose a Theme: Take a good look at of the school. Identify an environmental problem and decide what can be done about it, and how to improve the school’s environmental status, and the environmental learning that takes place there.  The challenge is identified from the following themes:

  • Water                   
  • Waste Management                       
  • Nature and Biodiversity              
  • Healthy Living and Nutrition        
  • Community and Heritage
  • Local and Global Issues

Plan for Teaching and Learning:  Select a Theme, identify an opportunity for environmental improvement, and identify environmental learning opportunities provided by environmental problems at the school that relate to topics in the curriculum and the Theme chosen.  Schools must teach at least three lessons related to their chosen Theme during the year as part of their Eco-School Programme.

Plan and Take Action:  The whole school audit and specific theme audit will have shown which areas of environmental management need attention. Action involving the whole school should be taken and should include the wider community as well, where possible.

Evaluation criteria for the Best Eco Schools Club
Clubs move through these levels:  
Year 1:   Blue Star Certificate
Year 2:  Yellow Star Certificate
Year 3:   Green Star Certificate Award
Year 4: Blue Flag
Year 5:  Yellow Flag
Year 6: Green Flag
Year 7:  Plains Game (Giraffe)
Year 8: Endangered Wildlife (Rhino)
Year 9:  Royal Game (Sable)
Having served for ten continuous years: The Big Five Award.
Annual Assessment for Awards

Environmental Stewards Certification.  To qualify for the overall best Environment Club of the Year.
Project. The school based hands-on Change Project is worth 40%
Networking.  Activities and involvement contributes 50%
New Registration or annual renewal of membership:  Contributes 10%
  

To Find out more, and to join the Eco Schools Programme, Contact: 
The Programme Coordinator, Mukuvisi Woodlands, P.O. Box GD851 Greendale, Harare 
education@mukuvisiwoodland.co.zw; mukwa@zol.co.zw
747111, 747123, 747083, 0775 701 807, 0774 198 009.

Highfield 1 High was Runner-Up Most Sustainable High School.

Chinhoyi High was the Overall Most Sustainable High School.

2015 Mukuvisi Woodlands Eco Challenge Prize Winners

 
Place Primary School Secondary School
The Eco Challenge Quiz
1 Twin Lakes Primary Highfield 1 High
2 Chivhu Primary Mandedza High School
3 Highlands Primary Visitation Makumbi
 
The Treasure Hunt
1 Twin Lakes Primary Highfield 1 High
2 Chivhu Primary Mufakose 2 High
3 Ardbennie Primary Lord Malvern Secondary
  
   The Art Competition The Model Competition
1 Chiremba Primary Chinhoyi High School
2 The French School Harare ZRP High
3 Ardbennie Primary Zengeza 1 High
 
The Overall Most Sustainable Schools
1 Highlands Primary Chinhoyi High School
2 Chiremba Primary Highfield 1 High
3 Chivhu Primary ZRP High

To Find out more, and to join the Eco Schools Programme, Contact:  The Programme Coordinator,
Mukuvisi Woodlands, P.O. Box GD851 Greendale, Harare
education@mukuvisiwoodland.co.zw;
mukwa@zol.co.zw

747111- 747123- 747083 +263 774 198 009