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Environmental education for Namibian youth

Corris Kaapevi and Maria Johannes with the “Ombombo” mobile classroom model. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)The lack of appreciation for the environment and limited career opportunities for Namibian youth  prompted a group of nature conservationists from the National Museum to establish a mobile classroom focusing on environmental education in the country.
The EduMobile programme is a mobile environmental awareness raising educative programs tailored to meet Namibia’s specific environmental concerns such as climate change and biodiversity loss in rural areas. The mobile classroom, which will be called the “Ombombo”, meaning butterfly, will focus on educating learners from Grades 8 to 12 in rural schools on environmental issues.
EduMobile consists of three phases which include the project development in Windhoek this year followed by the second phase in which 5 schools in the central regions will be visited. In the programme’s last phase, 15 schools in northern Namibia will be visited with the focus being on conservancies and community forests in the years 2014 and 2015.
EduMobile will consist of a vehicle equipped with all kinds of material and apparatus to cover a variety of topics and will be used as a mobile environmental class room as well as a demonstration piece to bring information to the rural schools of Namibia.
“The programme will officially be launched during the upcoming eleventh Conference of Parties (COP11) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) slated to take place in Windhoek in September. After the launch, we will carry out a pilot project on the programme on 5 schools in the central areas of the country to test the modules after which we will proceed to the north for the remainder of the last phase to cover around 20 schools,” said Corris Kaapevi, Project Manager of the programme. According to Kaapevi, they will select about 30 school children who will be taught in the mobile classroom for a period of five days and establish environmental clubs at all the schools that will be visited. “The curriculum is developed by the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NADEET) and is aimed at supplementing the Namibian Education system with hands on learning on theoretical topics covered in school curriculum,” he said.
The curriculum consists of water preservation, soil erosion, rangeland, career opportunities, global significant biodiversity loss, and recycling as well as renewable energy utilisation and according to Kaapevi, learners are expected to go out in the field and collect soil samples and small creatures such as bugs and butterflies to conduct research on in the mobile classroom.
The classrooms will be equipped with the latest technological gadgets, fully furnished with internet, including “MEEP”, a child friendly WIFI enabled tablet. “Learners will be taught how to use these gadgets and how to use the internet. We especially want to focus on rural schools because we feel they are the most vulnerable to climate change and need to be up to date with the technology,” said Maria Johannes, a teacher of the mobile classroom.
“Namibia has a variable climate and is dependent on its natural resources, therefore we need to take care of our environment. This programme will be beneficial to not only the youth but also the community, teachers as well as environmental officers at large,” Johannes highlighted.
Although other mobile environmental education projects exist around the world, the Namibian mobile environmental education project is said to be the first network in Southern Africa. The programme is sponsored by German BMZ Investment, the Environmental Investment Fund, Namibian Environmental Education Network (NEEN) in collaboration with the Ministries of Environment, Education and Youth, Sports and Culture.

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