The Timbavati Foundation is all about education, equipping children and young people with the skills and competencies to use natural resources sustainable and to excite them about the beauty and complexity of nature.
The environmental school target learners in primary and secondary schools as we believe it is best to reach out at a young age. We also believe that children and young people can be import influencers on their parents and fellow community members, and can help to change attitudes and environmental beliefs.
The school provided accommodation for groups of learners and teachers so that they were able to stay overnight in a typical bush area. The training was tailored to the activities, needs and challenges of the communities in this area and covered the following themes in the period under review:
Soil and vegetation
Soil erosion/ pollution control
Relationship with animals , plants and birdlife
Anti-poaching ( to combat the ever present rhino poaching crisis)
Most of the modules included practical assignments, such as safari drives and walks, as the Foundation believes that people learn best through experiential learning. “The aim is to get environmental education out of the classroom and into the bush”, explains Lazaro Sibiya, manager of the Environmental School.
Follow-up lessons were carried out by teachers, who used our educational resources toolkit in their classes to excite learners about conservation. Importantly, the materials used are easily understandable (short sentences, simple words), particularly as learners have English as a second or third language. The school also granted three bursaries to promising and motivated learners to further their education in nature conservation at a conservation college in the vicinity. Sibiya: “We want to show to girls and boys that you can make a career out of conservation or eco-tourism and make money following such a career.”
The Foundation also kept on working with people and communities to adapt to climate change, and in the past year offered guidance and solutions for water harvesting and retention, perma gardening, and the construction of twelve netted gardens (to support government feeding schemes). The Foundation ran five tree planting projects for schools in their neighbouring communities, and recently hosted an anti-rhino poaching debate in which 23 schools from the neighbouring communities participated. The objective was to spread the message of anti-rhino poaching to young people, while also empowering them to combat rhino poaching.
The perma gardening project was implemented with learners from schools who take part in a competition to make the most ecologically friendly garden. Winners went on a trip to the Kruger National Park (KNP) and the best learners were offered a course at the nearby Southern African Wildlife College, a recognised further education institution that offers real employment opportunities in the conservation sector.
The Foundation was furthermore involved in various programmes which have been designed to uplift neighboring communities through sanitation, conservation, and healthcare. As part of the sanitation project, the Foundation sank five boreholes at five schools, and it was responsible for the installation of environmentally friendly toilets (we call them enviro loos).
The Foundation carries out the work in collaboration and partnership with community leaders, business communities, government departments and civil society experts in healthcare and sanitation, as it believes that greater change can be delivered by collaborating rather than going about development alone.
The Foundation was created five years ago by the owners of Timbavati nature reserve, which is a pristine wildlife area and home to the big five, however the education project has been in existence for far longer as it started training and equipping adults and children from the neighboring communities 12 years ago. Over the years, it has earned the trust and respect of the provincial government’s Department of Education (DEE) and Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), and it now involves 30 secondary schools and 18 primary schools in the area, reaching over 6 000 children and young people annually.