GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - It is the last week out of five for the SA National Parks (Sanparks) Kids in Parks programme, whereby 500 learners from 10 schools are hosted by the team of people and conservation officer Nobulumko Gantsho in the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park.
The programme is funded by Sanparks and the national department of environmental affairs.
"We have five weeks with 10 schools which amounts to two-and-a-half days spent with each school. This year, participating schools include Coldstream, Storms River Primary, Paul Sauer (two farm schools), Nooitgedacht, Bo Plaas, Joubertina, Clarksen/Amamfengu, Kareedouw Primary, Woodlands, Tsitsikamma Laer, Johannes Primêre and Lily's Bush," says Gantsho.
The programme is interactive with a chunk of practical work done out in the field. "This year, we roped in the Natures Valley's Trust to focus on the rocky shores as part of the programme, and Sanparks scientists on fynbos," Gantsho says.
Learners, who get to interact with nature, experts, rangers and volunteers, are accommodated in the De Vasselot Camp in Nature's Valley for the duration of the programme, thereby getting a chance to experience staying in a national park.
Although this is a drop in the ocean considering the number of learners in the Eastern Cape who have never visited a national park in their lives, Sanparks tries to engage with as many schools as possible through "eco-schools", campaign days, invitations by facilitating schools programmes.
"The Kids in Parks programme is unique because it's curriculum-based, opening up the outdoor classroom which the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park is.
Through practical demonstrations, the learners are able to see for themselves what is written in textbooks," Gantsho concludes.
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