Society / Education
Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017 17:50 EAT
This year’s Community Conservation Day held at Kimanjo Mixed Secondary School in Laikipia North brought out learners’ creativity and innovation in communicating the environmental challenges and wildlife issues especially in Laikipia and the larger northern Kenya landscape.
Laikipia, an admirably unique landscape and an important wildlife area (supporting a number of species including the endangered Grevy’s Zebra, the elusive Gerenuk, the rare Northern White Rhino), is bedeviled with a plethora of challenges ranging from land fragmentation, poaching, population increase, land degradation, human-wildlife conflicts, climate change, inter and intra community conflicts that need urgent redress.
The day that brought together over 400 primary and high school pupils and students from 12 schools in Laikipia North under the banner of Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs (NKCC) saw students, community members and guests from other parts of the country come together to mark the 2017 Community Conservation Day with poems, drawings, games, drama, song dance, exhibits and demonstrations prepared by the Conservation Club students.
“The main objective of the day is to get students together to share knowledge and ideas with each other, to learn from each other and also teach the community about conservation issues in the area,” said Kimanjo Mixed Secondary School principal as he welcomed guests and celebrants.
The remarkable displays of art, world class poems, mind stimulating games, hilarious yet educative drama, informative posters, realistic exhibits and captivating demonstrations by the students addressed environmental challenges, presented the plight of wildlife, advocated for conservation and demonstrated possible solutions to the current environmental problems in an educative and entertaining way.
Amazingly, the students, with guidance from their teachers and support from Mpala Research Center and Princeton University (USA) volunteers, used the school curriculum and locally available resources to develop environmental education and awareness materials and skits.
“This is the work of the students and teachers,” Nancy Rubenstein, the Co-Founder of the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs, said. “We encourage the students to think freely. We read stories that go along with the concepts they are taught in school, try to introduce information to them so that they can take that knowledge and make good decisions themselves.”
The presentations ranging from control of invasive plant species, innovative hand wash equipment made of recycled locally available materials to promote sanitation, soil erosion control through vegetation and cover crops, use of camera traps and data by the youngsters to promote wildlife protection, self-explanatory illustrations, and hand drawn representation of the impact of poaching and environmental destruction proved that students can demonstrate a high level of ingenuity when they are taught how to think not what to think.
The NKCC is the brainchild of Dan Rubenstein, a Princeton University professor based at Mpala Research Center and his wife Nancy Rubenstein who is currently the Patron. “We put together a curriculum, gave each school club a box of materials and a small library of books to ensure that the students can continue their activities and learning on their own,” said Nancy Rubenstein.
With encouragement of critical and creative thinking, nurturing learners’ creativity, development of students’ confidence and capacity to develop practical solutions, we might as well be creating a generation of citizens adept at solving real world problems facing us today.
The writer is the founder and executive director of the Kenya Environmental Education Network