The Eco-Schools programme is a global school improvement initiative that aims to deliver sustainable environmental management outcomes. It is designed to encourage whole-school learning with the emphasis on improving the school environment. In South Africa, it is managed by WESSA (Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) as part of an international programme that now runs in over 58 countries where it promotes curriculum-based action for a healthy environment.
Lapalala Wilderness School has been an Eco-Schools supporter since 2006. Our association began with an initial partnership with five schools. By 2015 we had grown this support to more than 40 schools, most of which are located in rural environments.
Our Eco-Schools Programme has become one of our flagship activities and stands as testament to our commitment to enhancing environmental awareness, particularly in our country’s rural schools. Schools are visited bi-monthly by a dedicated and trained co-ordinator, providing assistance in setting and achieving goals and ensuring that educators and learners remain focused on these goals. The Eco-Schools Programme is a huge undertaking as our partner schools are scattered far and wide, requiring our co-ordinator to travel thousands of kilometres a month to ensure they receive the support they need. Despite this, Lapalala Wilderness School has been recognised as one of the most successful Eco-School nodes in the country, with a 100% submission and success rate between 2007 and 2014.
The main objectives of our Eco-Schools programme are as follows:
- To create awareness of, and inspire action around, environmental sustainability in schools and their surrounding communities.
- To support Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as part of the national curriculum.
- To make a significant contribution to local communities by improving the school environment, encouraging schools to improve their adjacent environment, promoting sustainable development through building community ties, and reducing litter and waste.