In an effort to promote school pupils to increase their knowledge and bring them closer to nature, CSSL has been working to establish School Nature Clubs (SNCs) in many schools in the Western Area and the provinces for the past three decades.
With support from Heidelberg Cement through the Spring Alive Program, CSSL recently facilitated the establishment and strengthening of five SNCs in five schools in the Western Area Rural district to support the pupils and school communities with increased environmental awareness. SNCs particularly provide exciting opportunities for children to explore their connection with the environment in a peer-oriented setting, giving them a sense of ownership and stewardship.
Following CSSL’s receipt of funds from the Spring Alive Program in August 2019 for the implementation of the aforementioned project, the organization commenced preliminary activities including identification of schools, notification of school authorities and garnering support from all through follow up visits for the establishment of nature clubs. The team identified Huntingdon Junior Secondary School, Peninsular Junior Secondary School, Ansarul Junior Secondary School, Russell Technical Secondary School and Kwama Junior Secondary School in Jui, Waterloo, Rokel, Russel and Kwama communities respectively, and solicited their cooperation for the activity.
For each of the above schools, one Teacher Coordinator and ten pupils were selected by their respective school authorities to constitute the clubs. This was followed by some orientation sessions led by the CSSL Environmental Education Officer, Mrs. Mariama Kargbo and Abdul K. Dumbuya, CSSL Communications Officer and Spring Alive Campaign Coordinator, Sierra Leone on the relevance and basic operations of SNCs. They were also made to understand that due to budgetary limitations, five pupils out of the selected ten would be required to witness the launch. These sessions were followed by the design and production of sensitization materials in the form of stickers and posters. Key messages with images of the birds promoted by the Spring Alive Campaign were inscribed on these materials, which were made ready for distribution during the launch.
On the 10th December 2019, CSSL organized a grand launch for the 5 newly established SNCs at the ChildCare Organization Conference Center in the Western Area Rural district headquarter town of Waterloo. The event was witnessed by about 50 participants drawn from the Ministry of Senior and Basic Education, officials from the Western Area Rural District Council, the participating school communities, members of the SNCs and the leadership of CSSL among others.
During the launch, various speakers including the Principals of the participating schools thanked the donors for providing such support to their schools. They also thanked CSSL for selecting their respective schools for the establishment of the SNCs. According to the Principal of Ansarul Junior Secondary School, Mr. Umar Dumbuya, this would trigger interest among children for birds and the protection of their habitats. He added that, “I want to encourage CSSL and partners to establish such clubs in other schools across the district because this is a laudable venture. I want to also appeal to the management of CSSL to help build my staff’s capacity on environmental issues in order to ensure the viability of the just established SNCs.” Similar sentiments were also expressed by other speakers.
In his address before officially launching the SNCs, the Executive Director of CSSL, Dr. Sheku Kamara thanked the heads of schools and particularly the Teacher Coordinators for supporting CSSL in making the entire process a success. He emphasized the difficulty involved in organizing children to get them to understand and grow interest in environmental issues. He noted that, man’s actions have been the causes of the environmental disasters the world is suffering from on a daily basis. Dr. Kamara encouraged all present to pay keen attention towards saving migratory and all other rare birds from being extinct. According him, they are also an integral part of the ecosystems, and must be protected like every other protected animals. He further profoundly thanked the Heidelberg Cement Group for providing the financial support for this activity. He said the new SNCs were now the newest members in the CSSL family, and would be treated as such. He added that, the first major activity the society would involve them in would be a field trip to the Western Area Peninsular Forest to accord them the opportunity of a firsthand experience in the wild, and for them to see how important it is to conserve and protect nature. After this address, he then officially launched the SNCs.