Written by Zanzibar intern, Lauren Lennon
If you come to Kizimkazi Secondary School every Thursday after school has finished at 2.30pm, you might expect to find empty grounds. You would be mistaken! Instead you will find a troop of teenagers from all over Kizimkazi, waiting excitedly for our weekly Conservation Club. Since its launch just one year ago, it has grown exponentially in popularity in the Kizimkazi community. We now have around 45 eager teenagers attending every lesson. This is a result of the clear desire to learn from the community, combined with the passion and drive of African Impact and Happy Africa staff and local teachers of Kizimakazi Secondary School.
The dedication and curiosity of each student is astounding, as every student must complete a short homework assignment to join. Once a member, they happily offer up their free time to attend our lesson for 2 hours every Thursday and complete homework on their own time for the following week. We strive to pack each lesson with out-of-the-box methods of teaching students about conservation topics.
Every week, we ask students to explore the world around them through a conservation topic such as biodiversity, pollution, deforestation, and energy production to name a few. We hold our lessons outside in the environment we teach about, and use games, activities and experiments to encourage students to ask questions about the most important environmental issues of today.
Last month’s Conservation Club included lessons on sand, erosion, deforestation, global warming, and biodiversity. We used experiments to teach the club members about these topics: For example we showed the students how to make their own sand using a plastic bottle, stones and sea shells and showed them global warming by using the sun to melt ice cubes in a bottle. We showed deforestation using an open-top box filled with sand on one side and sand and roots on the other. When the students poured water into the box, only the sand and roots remained. Together with the students we demonstrated deforestation by giving each student the role of animal, plant or human that depends on trees for their survival. As the students who played humans chopped down more trees, the animals and plants had to find another source of housing or food until there were no trees left. Lastly, we used a fact finding activity to show the diversity of animals in Zanzibar.
At the end of every lesson, all homework is returned and the students who completed the homework from the previous week are rewarded with nutritious biscuits for their hard work. This is one part of the lesson that always goes down a treat! At the end of every semester we take the students on a field trip, thanks to generous donations given to The Happy Africa Foundation.
Last year we brought the club to a local creative conservation project to showcase how students can use their creativity to upcycle different materials into beautiful and useful new pieces. This year we brought them to a locally driven conservation initiative called ZALA Park. Our students had a wonderful time meeting some of Zanzibar’s native animals for the first time, discovering medicinal uses for local grown plants, and visiting the mangroves to plant their own trees. Words can’t describe the excitement these students had for a trip outside the classroom to explore their own environment. Everyone cooked something special for the day, meat, fish, rice, potatoes, and coconut cake – and that was just break time! Each student asked questions, took notes on the animals they saw and collected plants to take home.Last but not least, every student saw how much they can contribute to the protection and conservation of their island for years to come.
Thank you to all those who have donated generously to this very important program. Please continue to support us!