Issued by: WildCoastSun
Towards the end of 2022, Sun International collaborated with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) in a two-year partnership to create eco-classrooms and build environmental resilience in 18 schools and their communities around the country.
The South Coast’s Wild Coast Sun donated R112,000 towards the WESSA programme and has since been working with Plangeni Junior Secondary School situated in Bizana, first in March for Global Recycling Day and again in May with teacher-learner workshops.
Global Recycling Day, March 2023
To celebrate Global Recycling Day held annually on March 18, the Resort and WESSA organised a day session at the primary school to discuss the South African landfill crisis and take action.
The day aims to raise awareness of the importance of recycling and encourage people to take action to reduce waste and protect the environment.
“This year, Global Recycling Day was themed “Creative Innovation’ which calls on people to be think outside the box and find new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste,” said Sonja Stroud, Wild Coast Sun’s Sustainability Manager. “And as such, we wanted to get the teachers and learners from Plangeni Junior Secondary School to think outside the box and come up with innovative ways to reduce waste that would ordinarily be placed in landfills.”
According to WESSA, South Africa’s landfill capacity is fast becoming a crisis as indicated by the alarming statistics that only 7,5% of South Africans recycle waste and 90% of waste produced ending up in landfills.
The eco-classroom started with educating learners from Plangeni Junior Secondary School, aged 10 to 13, about the issue of waste and landfills in the country and then they were encouraged to come up with ideas of how to reduce this issue.
“Putting our recyclables in the bin is not sustainable enough – we need to be proactive and find new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle,” said WESSA’s Environmental Education Officer, Iphendule Xhakana.
Together, the learners and teachers, showcased their creativity by designing and constructing innovative crafts – such as stationery holders, toys, bird feeders and pot plants – from recycled items.
Teacher-learner workshops, completion in May 2023
Up to end May 2023, Plangeni Junior Secondary School has completed three of the four identified teacher-learner Wellbeing Capacity Development workshops, which have focused on social wellness of teachers, learners and the community, as well as environmental wellness. Bullying and pollution are two issues the school identified as areas they need to address.
“The objective of the workshops is to provide teachers and learners with tools to assess and evaluate their current social and environmental wellness, and take steps towards creating awareness, educating others and encouraging constructive change,” said Stroud.
To better grasp how daily actions affect the environment, everyone actively participated in discussions and a carbon footprint activity.
“Six teachers and 19 learners completed the workshops and are fully committed to reduce actions that have a detrimental impact on the environment and wellbeing of others, and are working on campaigns to educate the remainder of the school – its teachers and learners – as well as take these important lessons home and expand awareness,” said Xhakana.
According to Lungisa Gula, Grade 7 and 8 Life Orientation and Natural Sciences teacher from the school, “The wellbeing of our learners is always a priority for us, because overall health, happiness and productivity are impacted. These workshops have benefitted us in that we are constructively addressing issues and implementing strategies to combat them. Also, by working with our learners, we are not only addressing issues that are important to them (and us) but we are helping them to think outside the box.”
With the aid of the Wild Coast Sun funding, Plangeni Junior Secondary School has been in the WESSA eco-classroom programme since July 2022, which in its first year has completed: the baseline assessment, creation of an environmental calendar, two teacher workshops and three of the four implementation sessions – with the last one scheduled for June 2023.
“Wild Coast Sun believes in the impact of sound education and will continue to invest in community education as we aim to change the future of South Africa,” said Stroud.
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