The Kamberg Conservancy used their allocation of the MCF Environmental Learning and Leadership Programme funds for a lesson on the importance of wetlands at Dabulamanzi school for Grades 4,5 and 6. Nkanyiso Ndlela facilitated the lesson on behalf of the Midlands Meander Association Education Project and MCF.
When I arrived at school the teacher and the learners were ready for me. I introduced myself and the Midlands Conservancy Forum and the programme for the day. I ask the learners to stand up and we played fun life skills game, where they have to use their two body senses – sight and hearing. I asked the learners to do what I say, not what I would do. So, for example I will say touch your head but I would be touching my toes.
I divided them into three groups and I used the Windows on our World Wetland game as an ice breaker and to tune them into the day’s topic. This game helps learners to develop the skill of identifying and analysing environmental problems and it shows connections, interdependencies, and cause and effect relationships.
Learners were paying attention and following the instructions. Although this activity created conflict amongst groups, I kept encouraging group work and discussion as a group. They were interacting with one another and asking questions. We discussed the importance of wetlands and the causes of wetland pollution.
We then took a trip to the closest wetland, where we were able to identify negative agricultural impacts on wetlands – for example monoculture. I explained to them that some farmers spray their crops with chemicals and that gets washed down to wetlands.
Other impacts observed were alien plants – bug weed and bramble, and litter coming from the school and road. We also identified incema, which is a grass used to traditionally make mats.
We then went back to the class room where each learner shared their experience in the wetland by presenting to the rest of the class.
I then introduced the wetland food web worksheet, asked the learners to draw lines between animals and plants to show who eats who, illustrating how all life in an eco-system is intricately connected.
I closed the programme by recapping, asking them what they have leant. They response showed that they have learnt something as they could remember the importance of wetlands and also wetland pollution.
Sanele Duma, educator commented “We had a wonderful time. The kids really enjoyed themselves as this was the long awaited field trip. It is also an important part of the curriculum to do this hands on learning. Now they understand wetlands much better. We hope to have another lesson like this. Thanks to the Conservancy.”