The Environmental Education Association Southern Africa (EEASA) Conference holds next week in South Africa.  We are very proud that a presentation on the successful application of PACE with rural communities in Zimbabwe has been selected to share with EEASA delegates. The conference brings together a significant and influential section of formal and informal education stakeholders from the region.  EEASA is hugely valuable as a meeting place for practitioners and policy makers ranging from field educators to government education and conservation ministry actors.

We are pleased to share the abstract of Palloma’s presentation, below.

Empowering rural youth with competencies to shape a more sustainable future: Sebakwe Conservation & Education Centre, Zimbabwe.

In 2016 we approached PACE (Pan African Conservation Education) because our strategy on equipping teachers in our project area was not yielding the success we anticipated. We felt that a learner-centered approach was needed. Through the resulting partnership we identified three rural schools and engaged their learners in a new conservation learning program that sought to develop competencies and skills to approach and solve local environmental challenges. Our approach gave the learners a voice, drama is one example: in which children were facilitators, delivering the message to their school and wider communities. They were able to bring out their voices, from their own understanding of why things happen the way they do, and to propose their own mitigation activities.

Sebakwe is a rural area where people were resettled in the wildlife buffer zone of the adjacent conservancy. As a result of their dependence on the natural environment, unsurprisingly, there is much human-wildlife conflict and many environmental challenges.

For over 10 years, SCEC developed numerous initiatives for local schools and communities. This involved, teacher training, workshops for school heads, community outreaches etc. There have been notable achievements, but poaching, veldfires, deforestation, siltation and other problems did not reduce. Whilst this destruction mainly results from people meeting essential needs, SCEC was clear that with a different learning approach we could ensure needs were met, but in a sustainable manner.
With the support of PACE resources and funds we rethought our previous teaching and learning methods. Instead of focusing on the educator we focused on equipping the youth and young learners.

This presentation shares some of the projects that we have embarked on as a different way of tackling the same environmental challenges, with more attention on promoting problem solving competencies in the young.
Palloma Pachiti is manager of Sebakwe Conservation and Education Centre.