Shop till you drop!

Before their departure, the 39 Grade 12 learners of Kuisebmond Secondary School were looking forward to four care-free days on a field excursion in the NamibRand Nature Reserve Park. Instead they found themselves neck-deep in an intensive biology, conservation, social studies and life skills classroom, albeit in the open air.

Manica sponsored a special biodiversity field excursion to the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) programme, as part of its CSI drive to augment the learning experience for learners of local schools. The NaDEET Centre is a non-profit, Namibian trust that was established in 2003 and is located near Maltahöhe. The trust believes environmental education is not only about increased awareness but also promoting eco-friendly attitudes and skills in Namibia. In this vain the learners were immersed in environmental conservation activities such as cooking on solar stoves, making their own fireballs from recycled paper, reusing bottles for water and even keeping track of the waste they generated and resources they used!

As part of their activities the learners also trapped 20 species of organisms and identified 224 different lizards, insects and rodents, including sugar ants, striped mice, hairy footed gerbils, darkling beetles (tok-tokkie) and caterpillars. They identified various desert plants and could link their classroom lessons to the actual plant in its natural environment. The excursion programme encouraged the learners to explore socioeconomic issues, while learning valuable life skills lessons through games. “The learners really enjoyed the Shop-till-you-drop game. This game is used to illustrate the real life situation in our country regarding the unequal distribution of wealth and playing the blame game for one’s wrong choices in life,” explained the director and cofounder of NaDEET, Victoria Keding. “In the game the learners were given different amounts of token money to spend on what they wanted. Some got more than others and some very little. Through this fun shopping exercise they could see how social structures are influenced by wealth and poverty, and that you can’t blame others for the choices you make,” she added.

Victoria noted that the NaDEET programme for secondary schools is closely linked to the Namibian school curriculum and encourages “critical and creative thinking skills in young adults about the environment and their personal impact on it. With schools we focus on energy, water, waste and biodiversity. Learners can expect to have a better understanding of these subjects and how it relates to their lives and communities. A key output is to build skills in addressing environmental problems through improved teamwork, cooperation and leadership,” she noted.

Some of the learners, their teacher and Victoria paid a brief courtesy call on Manica and presented their experiences at the centre with a slideshow. According to the KSS teacher who accompanied the group, Jonathan Maswahu, the whole experience was as profound as it was unforgettable.
“This was truly a wonderful opportunity to bring biology to life, by taking the learners out of the classroom and giving them first-hand insight and access to nature. We are very grateful to Manica for sponsoring the excursion. It is generous financial support from sponsors like you that provide the moral support needed to continue our mission as a school. With your contributions, you’ve demonstrated your deep commitment to creating opportunities for education. There is no better place and more equipped staff than that of the NaDEET centre in enriching our education curriculum. Thank you to both institutions!”

Nothing could dampen the learners exuberance about their trip, not even the fact that their bus had broken down halfway on their way back leaving them stranded for a couple of hours.

“It was an adventure! We didn’t mind, we were too excited about everything that we learned. The activities we enjoyed the most included dune-boarding, cooking meals on solar stoves and being able to see a night sky free of light pollution. We were able to see stars, satellites and planets, such as Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, because there is no light pollution and the night sky was awash with stars. Thank you for the memories, we will always cherish the experiences and lessons we learned during this field excursion,” one learner said.

For more information about the NaDEET visit their website www.nadeet.org

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