New Approach to Conservation Learning Launches for Mpumalanga Grade 5 Learners

An internationally-acclaimed programme called Coaching for Conservation (C4C) was introduced to rural school children in Mpumalanga in April, at Hazyview Digital Learning Campus, a campus managed by nonprofit organisation, Good Work Foundation (GWF). The programme was started in Botswana in 2004 where children were taught about the importance of conserving the natural environment and living in harmony with its animals.

The aim of the programme, sponsored in part by Investec’s Rhino Lifeline, is to teach children about conservation issues as well as develop an awareness and sensitivity to the environment they live in. The programme links children with conservation awareness through sport. In Botswana, the conservation awareness has focused on wild dogs, but in South Africa, the programme introduces children to rhino poaching, which is, surprisingly, a topic that many young rural children know little about.

The rhino programme has been running predominantly in the Eastern Cape, but GWF’s Open Learning Academy programme, with its focus on English, math’s, digital literacy and conservation, was a perfect fit, and so Investec has supported an expansion into Mpumalanga.

One GWF Open Learning Academy learner said: “We feel sad when poachers kill the rhinos and from today we will try whatever we can to fight rhino poachers. We will tell them how important rhinos are to us and we will call the police when we hear that someone wants to harm the animals.”

The C4C “Rhino Rap” is a two-hour session. Grade 5 learners are taught about fundamental conservation concepts, and also introduced to more information about rhinos and poaching. After that, the games begin – a variety of outdoor and interactive games (many involving soccer) intended to be fun for the children, and also connect the fun to learning and empathy for animals and the environment.

“Conservation is impossible without the support and commitment of local people,” said Lesley McNutt, Director of Coaching for Conservation. “C4C aims to change behaviour and attitudes towards wildlife by using organised sport to engender self-respect and inspire a generation of ‘kids who care.’”

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HDLC OLA learners were very excited to learn about conservation through the C4C programme and they are so interested and participating very well.

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Head of Open Learning Academy Chrispen Bvumbebge was very excited about the introduction of  the C4C programme to the learners.

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This was the first group that was introduced to the C4C programme in rural Mpumalanga and GWF’s facilators were thrilled to have such an active group of young children ready to fight for the well-being of the animals and their environment.

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“We feel sad when poachers kill the rhinos and from today we will try whatever we can to fight rhino poachers. We will tell them how important rhinos are to us and we will call the police when we hear that someone wants to harm the animals.”

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Playing soccer was part of their learning process there was rhinos team vs poachers team. Whose going to take the win?!

OLA facilitator Floyd Mokoena and Conservation Academy Sibusiso put their game faces on, ready to play rhinos vs poachers.

OLA facilitator Floyd Mokoena and Conservation Academy Sibusiso put their game faces on, ready to play rhinos vs poachers.

Written by GWF Media Intern Wiseboy Shabangu.

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