Swaziland Theatre Club kids #BeatPlasticPollution
By Liberty Dube

Swaziland Theatre Club Preschool joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Environment Day 2018. This year’s theme, #BeatPlasticPollution, comes at a time of increased advocacy against plastics, which are drowning the oceans and suffocating aquatic life.

To commemorate the day, the Swaziland Theatre Club Preschool toddlers planted trees as a way to cultivate environmental stewardship within the children, and instil that they are the future custodians and beneficiaries of the existing environment.

Children need to know the importance of conserving the environment, and the Theatre Club kids’ enthusiasm for our World Environment Day activities shows their eagerness to learn.  Empowering them in such a way to be environmental custodians will go a long way into the future.

As the theme of the day was about the serious concern of plastic pollution, the children decided to #BeatPlasticPollution by re-using plastic containers from home to create a beautiful garden of plastic flower pots.

To support the #BeatPlasticPollution theme we emphasised the message to “Refuse extra plastic bags during packaging at supermarkets, reduce the use of plastics, and re-use them in creative ways at home and at school.”

Re-using the empty soda bottles and margarine tubs as flower pots showed the children through a fun activity how plastic can be used creatively in the home to make valuable resources for gardening – both flowers and vegetables – especially in places where space for having a garden is in short supply.

The day’s activities were part of the preschool’s involvement in the Green Schools Initiative which seeks to promote and affirm the role of education in the global quest for sustainable development.

Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from serious environmental issues and climate change impacts such as drought, deforestation, soil erosion, desertification and wetland degradation. Efforts to deal with these problems, however, have been handicapped by a failure to understand the key role that education for sustainable development can play in cultivating positive attitudes towards the environment.

Environmental education based on life experiences should begin during the very earliest years of life. Beginning this process in the early development stage – when children’s attitudes toward the world around them are forming – is essential. Such experiences play a critical role in shaping lifelong attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior toward natural environments.

The Green Schools Initiative implemented at Swaziland Theatre Club Preschool is to provide school children with hands-on experiences and opportunities to tackle issues and concerns in their own environments. The Green Schools Initiative will ensure that schools adopt elements and practices that instil environmental sensitivity, and promote environmental sustainability through various means that encourage judicious use of resources.

The Green Schools Initiative will include key sustainable development issues in teaching and learning, such as climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption.

The Initiative will achieve sustainable environmental management by integrating environmental education into the school curriculum and empowering teachers and learners to implement environmental activities at school level.

Children’s capacity to learn can be undermined and sometimes destroyed in an unfavorable environment, after all, they spend hours a day in school for about twelve years of their childhood. The environment of the school plays a significant role in the lives and thinking of students. Schools can play a pivotal role in the development of not only knowledge and understanding but also in creating the foundation of environmental ethics among the learners.

The Green Schools Initiative falls within the UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development goal, whose main objective is to ensure that every human being acquires the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. The Initiative also falls within Swaziland’s national policy to promote the enhancement, protection and conservation of the environment and the attainment of sustainable development.

This Environmental Education Initiative was developed as an adaptation of the Eco-Schools Programme practiced globally. The Initiative is linked directly with the Plan of Action outlined in the Millennium Declaration, signed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which aims to deliver Agenda 21 Commitments by involving people of all ages and nationalities through formal school education, training of staff and general awareness raising.

The Green Schools Initiative is also in line with the proposed targets on the Post 2015 Swaziland Education Agenda; Target 5 which seeks to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes for global citizenship and sustainable development by 2030. The Initiative is also in line with the Swaziland-UNDAF Priority Area 1: Poverty and inequality reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development; Outcome 1.2 Communities’ and national institutions’ management of natural resources improved by 2020.

Scroll through the rest of these lovely photos from the Theatre Club Preschool’s World Environment Day fun!

Photographer: Liberty Dube