Conservation Post-Covid: Reintroducing Environmental Education

As Covid-19 restrictions ease around the world PACE (Pan-African Education Programme) Champion Denis Agaba reflects on reintroducing environmental education to a primary school in Uganda.

Siima Primary School is located in the outskirts of Kampala in Nansana suburb – an overpopulated area facing many environmental challenges. Prior to 2020, the PACE project was already well-established at this school, supporting clean-up campaigns and using music, dance and drama to help children understand and raise awareness of environmental issues impacting their community.

However, the impact of Covid-19 was severe – many teachers left when the school was unable to pay their salaries. Many pupils also left, needing a lot of help to catch up when they eventually returned. To support rebuilding capacity amongst new teaching staff, and the ongoing environmental education of the children, I worked with the school to re-introduce PACE to their daily teaching and learning programmes. The workshop involved 10 teachers and 34 children.

To start, I worked with the teachers, informing them about PACE and how its materials could be put into use in day to day teaching. Teachers had the opportunity to explore the relevance of the materials, the value of environmental education and begin developing activities that would help the children understand how to look after their immediate environment.

The children started with recycling, brainstorming examples of common waste around their town and learning how waste materials can be recycled and turned into something useful. Given their urban surroundings, many of the children particularly enjoyed our kitchen gardening activity. The session showed them how to make space in urban homes with relatively little space to grow vegetables that would support the wellbeing of their school and families in a sustainable way.

To keep the environment, conservation and sustainability alive in the school beyond the workshop, the teachers and pupils came together to form a Wildlife Club. Educational visits to the Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe, Kisoro and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park have all also been discussed.

After the hardships of Covid-19, workshops like this have been a stark reminder of the importance of environmental education during early years. Through fun and engaging intervention in schools, we can nurture a conservation mindset that will last long into adulthood, forming communities that value and protect their environments. This is how we build a future for wildlife and ecosystems. That’s why I’m proud to be a Champion for the PACE project.

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