WESSA Schools Programme awards in partnership with Sun International

Sun International’s two-year partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) to create eco-classrooms and build environmental resilience in schools and their communities has seen Gauteng schools win awards.

Since the partnership started last year, eight schools in Gauteng have now completed health and safety workshops and been awarded bronze certificates, which are awarded to schools in their first year of the WESSA Eco-Schools programmes.

To achieve bronze status, schools need to implement one project under one of the eco-school themes. The Sun International schools are taking part in a health and well-being project, focusing on environmental and social issues that impact health and safety, such as pollution, substance abuse, crime or gender-based violence.

The Gauteng WESSA Schools Programme awards ceremony was held on 3 March 2023 at St Andrew’s School for Girls in Germiston.

The Sun International Eco-Schools project supports schools with the creation of eco-classrooms where learners, teachers and school leadership are using the eco-schools seven step framework to chart a way to building resilience in their schools and communities.

The schools were awarded based on workshops they ran during February, and addressed a combination of social issues within their communities including substance abuse, poverty, crime and gender-based violence. There are 17 schools nationally completing the programme.

Central Office 

The schools participating under Sun International’s Central Office: Ekukhanyisweni Primary, Tembisa Secondary, Moduopo Primary School and Ipontshe Primary School, launched substance abuse awareness campaigns.

The students identified drugs and alcohol as one of the biggest contributors to poor health and safety in their communities, and together with WESSA helped life skills teachers launch the campaigns to their schools, where 259 students and 16 teachers attended.

Siphesihle Home Based Care, based in Tembisa, gave educational talks on substance abuse, its effect on health and wellbeing and how to address it if students or someone they know is affected. The sessions ended with role play scenarios with volunteers enacting what to do and what not to do when someone is taking or selling drugs, abusing alcohol and how to respond to peer pressure.

Carnival City

Based on social unrest and a death of a learner from a neighbouring school, both the schools under Carnival City:Buhlebemfundo Secondary and Tsimong Primary, tackled crime, gender-based violence and substance abuse as their awareness campaigns.

The workshops were attended by 68 students and four teachers.

WESSA will work closely with these schools going forward to address health and safety concerns based on the recent incident.

Time Square

The two schools participating under Time Square: Mamelodi Pre-Vocational and Soshanguve Secondary, were asked to identify the biggest health and wellbeing issues within their communities, and then discuss the causes and impacts they have, as well as possible solutions to address them.

Both acknowledged substance abuse, crime and poverty are issues impacting their communities and the students created ‘vision posters’ and established a plan to raise awareness at their schools. Seventy-five students and six teachers attended the workshops.

Looking ahead

WESSA, with the assistance of Sun International, will continue to engage with the Gauteng schools and has visits and teacher workshops scheduled for April 2023.

In addition, the Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) national competition has been launched and the eight Gauteng schools have until March 31, to enter their submissions.

The requirements are to identify an environmental challenge within the community and report on it via a written article, photograph story or short video and link it to one of three themes: climate change, pollution or biodiversity.

Winners in the national competition will be entered into the international YRE competition.

“We are proud of the students’ involvement because the more they understand the impacts of issues – whether social or environmental – the better prepared they are to advocate change within their surroundings – and it is the youth that are going to make the change for a better future,” said WESSA senior project manager Nomfundo Ndlovu.

Sun International’s SED Manager Heidi Edson expanded on this: “It is vital for the sustainability of projects that teachers and students manage them for themselves, because not only are they more invested, they gain soft skills such as self-confidence, leadership abilities, critical thinking and the will to act and advocate.”


Background information

WESSA is one of South Africa’s oldest and largest independent non-profit environmental organisations, having formed in 1926, when a group of passionate individuals got together to campaign for the creation a National Parks Board (now known as SANParks), to ensure the proclamation of the Kruger National Park and other national parks.

Sun International donated just over a million rand to support the WESSA programme in schools in areas surrounding their properties – Cape Town’s GrandWest hotel and casino, Bloemfontein’s Windmill Casino, Gauteng’s Central Office, and Carnival City, Pretoria’s Time Square, Durban’s Sibaya Casino, Worcester’s Golden Valley hotel and casino and the South Coast’s Wild Coast Sun resort.

The programme kicked off in August and runs until the end of July 2023 involving more than 450 learners ranging from Grade 6 to 10.

These are the schools supported by each hotel and casino property:

Central officeR 177 721·        Ekukhanyisweni Primary

·        Tembisa Secondary

·        Moduopo Primary School

·        Ipontshe Primary School

CarnivalR118 000·        Buhlebemfundo Secondary

·        Tsimong Primary

Time SquareR117 000·        Mamelodi Pre-Vocational

·        Soshanguve Secondary

GrandWestR143 028·        Bellville South Secondary

·        Riverton Primary

WindmillR117 000·        Lereko Secondary
SibayaR215 662·        Sterngrove Primary

·        Glenhaven Secondary

·        Waterloo Secondary

·        Phoenix Secondary

·        Palmview Secondary

Golden ValleyR 22 279·        Bo -Doorn Rivier Primary
Wild Coast SunR112 000·        Plangeni Junior school


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