Teachers and learners from 21 schools along the Bakwena N1N4 route N1N4 highways are learning about environmental conservation, thanks to a partnership between Bakwena Platinum Corridor Concessionaire, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) Eco-Schools programme and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Bakwena, which operates the N1N4 freeway, has supported WESSA’s Eco-Schools Programme for six consecutive years. In addition to raising awareness around environmental issues, the programme provides learners with valuable knowledge and skills about gardening and recycling, which knowledge they can, in turn, impart to to their families and local community members.
Bakwena Public Relations manager, Charmaine van Wyk, says Bakwena began supporting the Eco-Schools Programme in 2013 at five previously disadvantaged schools in Hammanskraal on the N1 route.
“The programme was so successful that in 2015 the project expanded to include another five schools in Hammanskraal and in 2017 we took the programme to an additional 11 schools along the N4 route in Moedwil, Swartruggens, Groot Marico and Zeerust.”
Through the programme, teachers, learners, community members and partner organisations undertake various projects aimed at improving environmental management at their schools. Some of these projects include saving electricity and water, recycling waste and developing food gardens.
Van Wyk says the schools are provided with materials and advise to assist them in running their projects successfully.
“The schools work towards achieving established goals every year. This ultimately qualifies them for an Eco-Schools Flag, which has become an internationally recognised symbol of excellence.”
Highlights for 2018
In February the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Urban Conservation team visited three WESSA Eco-Schools in Hammanskraal to celebrate Leap Day for Frogs and teach learners about why the amphibians are such a vital component of the environment.
Following this, the three schools – Reneilwe, Itireleng and Selang primary schools – cleared litter from their local wetlands.
In April, the same team hosted information workshops at the WESSA Eco-Schools in Hammanskraal to provide Eco-Coordinators with the skills and tools they need to implement various programmes at their schools.
At the workshops, Eco-Coordinators were encouraged to discuss the challenges they faced in implementing projects as well as elicit ideas from their counterparts on how to overcome them.
In addition, representatives of the owlproject.org addressed teachers about the Township Owl Box Project, which is aimed at educating learners and teachers about owls and creating owl-friendly environments.
Initiatives at the Eco-Schools in Moedwil, Swartruggens, Groot Marico and Zeerust along Bakwena’s N4 route have gained momentum and nine schools received awards at a Green Flag award ceremony held in March. Additional initiatives such as the Tags4Pads and Paper4Bread were also adopted with enthusiasm by the schools.
Van Wyk says Bakwena’s support of the school programme forms part of the toll road operator’s Corporate Social Investment (CSI) strategy, which is aimed at supporting and contributing to the socio-economic development and upliftment of communities in the area.
“We feel proud of the commitment, enthusiasm and success demonstrated by the schools participating in the Eco Schools programme. We believe widespread education is vital to addressing issues around climate change, land degradation and the loss of biodiversity.
“By partnering with WESSA’s Eco-Schools programme, we believe we can make significant inroads towards promoting responsible environmental behaviour and sustainable living along our routes,”
concludes van Wyk.