The School Inspector for Nyaminyami District, Mr Jason Dzveta, invited our Zimbabwe partners to talk about PACE at his head teachers meeting in Karoi on July 5th.

Nyaminyami (also called Kariba) District, is one of the most rural and isolated in Zimbabwe.  It is in Mashonaland West Province in the north of Zimbabwe, includes part of Lake Kariba, a border with Zambia and the Matusadona National Park. We were thrilled that fifty-three of the district’s fifty-nine primary and secondary school heads attended the meeting.

Palloma Pachiti, PACE Champion, an experienced sustainability educator and manager of Sebakwe Conservation Education Centre gave a presentation on PACE, the approach, how it has been used and how it can help teachers deliver quality education.  Palloma was accompanied by Pieter Bezuidenhout and Charles Ndondo of Carbon Green Africa’s Kariba REDD+ forest conservation project.  Environmental education is a key part of their work to mitigate climate change though forest conservation and building sustainable livelihoods for local communities[1] and they have been working closely with the DSI on this over the past year.

Palloma’s presentation focused on PACE in relation to:

Transformative Education: she noted that the PACE resources are not seeking to replace the existing curriculum, but to complement and enhance classroom learning in an approach that seeks to maximize results from the day-to day classroom learning. Very often the focus is on whether a student has grasped a concept and not whether they can apply it.  The PACE resources promote critical thinking, encourage a questioning attitude and behavior and thus transforming, first oneself, and ultimately society.

Action-based Learning. To help learners build skills and competencies to apply lessons learnt at school in real life situations.

Interdisciplinary approach: She stressed the value of PACE to the school as a whole. The PACE resources do not benefit one just corner of the school but can be applied in different disciplines bringing multiple benefits.

A video clip on permaculture in a South African primary school was screened. It showed how learning from the school garden started in a Mathematics classroom and continued outside where various topics covered in the curriculum were learnt practically in the garden. The video included testimonies of how the garden impacted positively on the school.

Another video gave a testimony from a Zambian farmer whose yield has been boosted by Agroforestry.   “I am sure those that were farmers within the audience were able to get a few lessons from this.”

The DSI explained that he had previously given the PACE material to a team of three school heads to evaluate the book and prepare feedback. One of these shared the activities that his school had taken particular interest in, it was Paper Mache, which has also been phenomenally popular with both teachers and students in Uganda and Cameroon.

It was interesting to note that when the DSI asked to show by raising of hands, almost every school head indicated that they would like to receive the PACE material. The DSI commented that there are 59 schools and it would be ideal if each had a copy. However, he decided that 12, one from each ward, that he had selected (pictured below), would receive the material at this stage, as pilots.

Plans are being being set for follow up and monitoring of this initiative, it will include opportunities for users to explore the ideas and materials in depth and for them to problem solve and share achievements between schools.  Additional materials will be provided, including CD’s and DVD’s, so that there are sufficient for students from the receiving schools to have access, with enough for them to use in group work for a range of activities.

It takes great patience and commitment to make these initiatives succeed – and is fantastic to see things fall into place.  We extend enormous appreciation to the DSI for his interest, to Palloma and Charles (right) for their efforts and to TUSK and her sponsors for making our PACE contribution possible. School educators, we look forward to seeing your responses.

[1] The Kariba REDD+ Project is a collaboration between communities in 4 districts (Binga, Nyaminyami, Hurungwe and Mbire) and 3 provinces (Matabeleland North, Mashonaland west and Mashonaland central) and the company ‘Carbon Green Africa’. It is the largest REDD+ project by area, >1,000,000ha, generating funds through sale of carbon credits for reduction of deforestation and forest degradation. Their goal is to preserve natural ecosystems, protect and maintain the biodiversity and increase the standard and sustainability of livelihoods in local communities.  They are successfully offsetting carbon emissions, >18 million tonnes of CO2 have been prevented from entering the atmosphere since the project stated in 2011.