The EEASA (Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa) conference 2017 was in Maun, Botswana, last month. This year the conference focused on – Enhancing Quality Education through Environment and Sustainability Education in Southern Africa.
The PACE presentation addressed a sub-theme on ‘Sustainability Education in Communities working with ESE to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.’ Our title was Practical Conservation focused Sustainability Education in communities in and around national parks and conservancies achieving tangible improvements to people’s lives, habitats and ‘life on land’. The extract below, from our abstract, gives a taste of how PACE – Pan African Conservation Education – has and continues to make a difference to communities living alongside wildlife, and expresses this impact in terms of its contributions towards achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development goals.
The (PACE) Pan African Conservation Education project was started by wildlife conservation organisations that wanted to support communities living close to wildlife conservation sites, to reduce poverty, provide opportunity, to involve and empower especially poorer communities so that people, wildlife and natural habitats thrive and remain secure. The idea behind PACE is to share simple solutions to ‘environmental’ problems that are constraining people’s daily lives and well-being: energy efficient cook stoves, biogas, rainwater-harvesting, composting, soil management, agro-forestry, ways to prevent human wildlife conflict – very practical ways in which people have addressed common environmental problems. Ideas are shared through film and demonstration projects to inform, inspire and facilitate local problem solving. Since 2004 PACE has provided resource materials, training and funds to support practical interventions. It has partners on the ground in 34 African countries. In community work PACE materials tend to be used as a resource for group leaders, educators and facilitators, while in schools (as reported elsewhere) both teachers and learners use them.
In 2016 we ran the first phase of an evaluation assessing the impact of PACE interventions. The results from community work in thirteen countries, six in SADC, revealed success on a local level engaging communities and bringing about change in aspects of Sustainable Development Goals 11, income generation (Sustainable communities), 13 (Climate change), 15 (Life on Land), as well as 10 (reducing inequalities), 17 (partnerships) and of course, goal 4 Quality Education.
Case studies from Southern Africa countries are outlined to illustrate the form of interventions and activities communities are involved in. Results of impact assessment are presented and the very positive relationship that we have observed between ESE work and outcomes in communities and Quality Education in local formal settings. Many teachers struggle to understand what Quality Education means and how they should respond. The PACE approach helps them understand how to link classroom and everyday experiences, to link theory and practical, use place-based teaching, to develop their own and student’s competencies.
Keywords – Education for Sustainable Development, Conservation Education, Environmental Education, Community Education, Quality Education, Evaluation, Impact Assessment, Sustainable communities, Southern Africa.