Promoting future opportunities through education and species conservation6 children projects in NG 32 (Ngamiland)

Since January 15, 2022, the Futura Foundation has been supporting 6 additional children’s projects in the NG 32 district on the edge of the Okavango Delta. Early childhood education and care services, basic care and child-oriented, practical environmental education in so-called “playgroups” give about 300 more children a fair start in school life.

NG 32, like other areas of Botswana, is struggling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, high unemployment and the post-2020 slump in the travel industry. For many families, it is a daily struggle to feed the family. It’s a challenge, especially for single mothers or fathers – so many children are left to fend for themselves during the day when their parents have to work.

In the playgroups, up to 30 children are looked after by 2 trained SAVE teachers each. Together they learn to count to 20, to write their name and much more, which makes it easier for them to start elementary school. Above all, they learn one thing: self-confidence. They can accomplish something, even if they were born into a life with few educational opportunities and many challenges. In the playgroups, they receive regular meals and, if necessary, further offers of medical or psychological support.

Education as the key to sustainable species conservation

“Many children in Botswana know little about the wildlife of their homeland. They often perceive them only as a threat or as a tourist attraction, and that’s exactly what we want to change,” explains Lars Gorschlüter. With the E4C (Education for Conservation) SAVE strategy, we want to make peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife possible in the long term. “Education is the key to species conservation for us,” Lars Gorschlüter continues, “and that requires long-term and sustainable work. We are very pleased that the Futura Foundation’s multi-year funding for the children’s project will enable us to do just that.”

Learning material for the Playgroups

For the early preschool and environmental education in the playgroups, SAVE has developed a curriculum and a learning book that the teachers use to support children and prepare them for school. The goal is to enable more children to attend school, reduce the number of school dropouts and give children with a completed education more opportunities for the future. In a child-friendly and fun way, the children in the Playgroups learn not only about letters and numbers but also about the animals and nature of their country. They learn more about the behaviour of the various wild animals – for their protection and that of the animals that sometimes come as far as the villages on the edge of the nature reserves.

Covid-19 is also still a major challenge in Botswana. For this reason, great emphasis is placed on adherence to hygiene rules in the playgroups to protect children and staff from infection. From April 24 to 28, 2022, SAVE Botswana, in collaboration with the Maun Admin Authority, hosted training at the Nxaraga Training Centre. 26 SAVE Teachers received hands-on training there to prepare them for their roles in the SAVE Playgroups and to learn about hygiene requirements.

All 6 playgroups have been mobilized in the meantime despite partly difficult weather conditions: due to flooding, some remote villages were at times only accessible by boat. With the active support of the villagers, rooms for the lessons were renovated or newly built. Classes are already underway in two playgroups and will begin in the other four in the course of the next few months, once the renovation work has been completed.

Species Conservation Together