The Values Children Learn Through Environmental Protection
“Social values such as, love, compassion, tolerance and justice, these are the same values needed to protect biodiversity. As Namibians, the environment speaks to our spiritual and cultural customs and rituals. These customs in many ways teach us to protect, nurture and respect every aspect of nature, treating them as sacred”
Learning to be green is something that will benefit your children’s growth and development. It’s been shown that as a child learns about the environment; they develop values such as responsibility that will last a lifetime. In addition caring for our environment has a wealth of positive character development spin offs such as improvements in health, mood, effectiveness and relational ability.
Here in Namibia it was a lack of targeted environmental education opportunities for primary and secondary school students in the Khomas Region that drove the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) to begin the process of developing the Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP). A bold program that is looking to equip the Namibian youth with a solid understanding of the environment and adequately prepare them for the world they will inherit.
In an effort to teach children how to care for the environment by helping them understand the impacts their lifestyle has on fragile ecosystems around, most of the learning will take place outdoors in the bush. The project is targeting disadvantaged and under-resourced schools and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as well as the Ministry of Education are behind this initiative ensuring that the program is in line with Namibia’s National Curriculum.
According to Rachel du Raan, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation Environmental Education Coordinator “Environmental education is something that every person needs become familiar with because it isn’t a stand-alone concept. It reaches every aspect of our lives, and even our value systems. Social values such as, love, compassion, tolerance and justice, these are the same values needed to protect biodiversity. As Namibians, the environment speaks to our spiritual and cultural customs and rituals. These customs in many ways teach us to protect, nurture and respect every aspect of nature, treating them as sacred. Which of our people don’t have traditional stories about sacred trees and animals? A value-based approach to environmental education can bring in a total transformation of our mind-set, our attitudes and our lifestyles. A change to ‘us in nature’ rather than ‘nature for us’. Environmental education is cross curricular and can be taught, in some form, to the students right from the start of their formal education. It is a welcome step that now all over the country we are including environmental issues as part of our education.”
As noted by KEEP, there are fantastic environmental education initiatives currently available in Namibia but in the Khomas Region these initiatives are lacking. It’s programs like these and soon like the KEEP program that are inspiring young people to care for the environment, live sustainably and ultimately improve their living conditions.
Rachel explains that “By giving young people an opportunity to reconnect with nature beyond just resource use, we will help to build a culture of environmental awareness, social responsibility and action, equipping our future leaders, and indeed all Namibians, with the skills to live sustainably. We’re not just investing in the environment, we’re investing in the economy, in Namibia.”
With the aim of increasing awareness and knowledge about Namibia’s environment and developing important problem solving skills, KEEP is scheduled to launch at the beginning of next year, targeting grades 3 and 4 initially.
If you want to get in touch with the people at KEEP and support their project contact Rachel du Raan at Rachel@giraffeconservation.org or take a look their website Giraffe Conservation