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Gauteng Schools to Participate in Annual GDARDE Climate Change School Awareness Programme

Grade 10 and 11 high school educators and learners from 29 schools in Township Informal Settlements and Hostels (TISH) areas across Gauteng Province, will participate in the Climate Change School Awareness Curriculum workshops during July and August this year.

This programme, a partnership between the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment (GDARDE) and Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) was successfully implemented in 2023 with 845 participants (803 learners and 42 educators). In addition, 290 trees were planted at these  schools contributing towards carbon sequestration. The climate change awareness workshops are accredited by the South African Council of Educators (SACE) to enable educators attending the sessions to receive 10 continuous professional, training, and development (CPTD) points, and these workshops are implemented in the schools by FTFA’s EduPlant Programme facilitators.

Schools in TISH areas are being prioritised due to the unique challenges these communities face in relation to climate change and the impacts of climate-related events. The workshop activities focus on a range of outcomes for participants, including understanding climate change impacts and the community’s role in ensuring sustainable development. Climate change information dissemination, sponsorships and fostering a conducive environment for educators to integrate knowledge acquired in the classroom are some tools used to enrich and ensure sustainability of the programme. This interactive programme incorporates various learning approaches to disseminate and improve the understanding of climate change through collaborative discussions, teach-back sessions, docuseries, and slideshow presentations. The workshops additionally incorporate and encourage the use of innovative communication tools such as videos and photography.

“The interactive sessions strengthened the narrative that these learners see themselves as individuals who can effect changes in behaviour and integrate simple climate smart habits into their daily lives. There was consensus amongst workshop participants that they could start the change, by encouraging the school management teams to establish climate and environmental policies, as well as embark on simple activities such as tree planting and clean-up operations, with immediate effect,” says Bharathi Tugh, EduPlant Manager and FTFA Education Associate.

Learners are encouraged to consider issues from different perspectives, facilitating debates surrounding a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach to linking climate change with livelihoods.

This collaborative effort between GDARDE and FTFA will continue this year, considering the remarkable engagement achieved during last year’s workshop series. There will be greater focus on the knowledge and creativity that the learners themselves can bring to training sessions in 2024, with the incorporation of poetry and essay writing to this year’s programme, which will enable participants to explore and use their creative skills to demonstrate their perception of climate change.

The benefits of this awareness programme are clear from feedback provided by workshop facilitators, who have noted that last year learners were eager to complete their post-workshop assignments, with some schools even progressing to developing a school policy document aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“We appreciate the partnership and journey with FTFA as the resources we have availed have enabled the FTFA curriculum developers and facilitators to continue advancing the GDARDE climate change agenda and mandate in Gauteng schools. We believe that learners and educators are a great asset and well-placed foot soldiers to spread awareness and build climate resilience in their communities.” Emphasized by GDARDE’s Climate Change Environmental Policy, Planning and Coordination Deputy Director, Mr. Gerson Nethavhani.

Climate Action, Climate change, climate change awareness, climate change in schools, environment, tree planting, youth, youth in climate action
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