The PACE (Pan African Conservation Education) pack is a set of multi-media educational resources – a reader, educators guide, short films, action sheets, supplements and posters arranged in chapters, or modules, that relate directly to everyday life in communities across Africa, and support local school curricula. PACE helps learners link theory and practical, classroom and everyday experiences. In the soils module for example, learners can watch a film about farmers using permaculture to improve the productivity and sustainability of their farms. They can read simple explanations of soil and nutrient cycling in the PACE reader, and learn how to make their own composting project from an action sheet. The Climate Change supplement explains how all these activities relate to global systems and changes in climate that are effecting their daily lives, livelihoods and local habitats.
PACE is used in a huge range of settings. St Gabriel’s College in the remote east of Cameroon has very limited computer and internet. Sylvester Bari, a teacher there, wrote last week enthusing about the printed PACE materials that he’s used to improve his lessons – on forest management, tree planting, soils, water management and subsistence gardening. All these topics are on their national curricula, and teaching them well is so very important for the future of the children and extraordinary nature they live alongside. Despite east Cameroon’s phenomenal natural wealth the majority of local people, including the parents of Mr Bari’s students are subsistence farmers who use the forest to supplement their livelihoods. Bush burning, to clear new farms and for hunting, is still common. Mr Bari’s lessons and practical sessions with his students expose them to alternative ways – teaching them the value of intact ecosystems, of means to earn an income and improve their living standards sustainably.
In Meru County, just north of Mount Kenya, despite living in dry arid grasslands, alongside elephant, rhino and zebra the local communities have many of the same problems as those in Cameroon with their gorilla, chimpanzee, colobus and forest elephant neighbours. We were thrilled yesterday to receive a picture of PACE being explored on a smart, interactive wall screen at the Lewa Conservancy in Kenya. Lewa has installed smart screens in the 23 government schools that it supports in communities in and around their wildlife conservancy – a powerful way to make use of PACE, and to empower and provide a new vision and reality for people living alongside Africa’s iconic wildlife.