Armed with a sponsored ‘goodie' bag filled with T-Shirt, cap, waterbottle and pencil case, about 500 learners from 10 schools, some having never been to a national park before, made the most of their short stay in the Kruger National Park (KNP). Over two days and three nights they explored the marvels of nature guided by an interactive booklet, their teachers and KNP environmental interpretive education (EIE) officers.
Visits to the nursery, alien biota and waste sites, game capture centres, as well as the local heritage sites during the day were complemented with afternoon game drives and local wiseman, Isaac Khosa's tales of the bush around a camp fire in the evenings.
The annual programme, known as Kids in Parks is a joint effort between Pick ‘n Pay, SANParks and the Department of Education. Ideally ‘Kids in Parks' aims to promote a conservation ethic by responding to environmental issues, through environmental education to produce mutual benefits for people and parks.
This programme plays a vital role in providing meaningful environmental learning, within the framework of outcomes-based education and curriculum 2005. ‘Kids in Parks' is a fully sponsored programme. Learners and educators benefit from meals and transport provided by Pick ‘n Pay for the duration and accommodation and the educational programme is supplied by SANParks.
This year's programme ran from May 19 to June 20, 2008. It was aimed mostly at learners from local communities surrounding the park and who are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Within Kruger, the ‘Kids in Parks' programme started with a teachers workshop facilitated by Delta Environmental Education Centre on May 15 and 16, 2008.
During this workshop, educators from the selected schools were put through their paces in the new curriculum and were exposed to the type of learning that their students could expect in the programme. Solly Themba, Kirsty Redman, Miyelani Mhlari, Isaac Khosa, Wi t n e s s Mamatho, Eunice Shitlhavani, Amekulani Nkuna, Jane Rimandzu Mabaso, Amy-Lee Pollard, Aitken Makhense, Daniel Shibambu, Edward Manganyi, Matimba Maluleke and Richard Mhlongo made up the Kruger.