Eco Schools
Kids in Namaqualand. © A. Phillips
Kids in Namaqualand.
© A. Phillips
The EcoSchools themes followed in South Africa are Local and Global Issues, Nature and Biodiversity, Community and Heritage, Resource Use, and Healthy Living. Each of these integrates easily into the South African national curriculum.

The International EcoSchools Programme, an initiative of the Foundation for Environmental Education, was launched in South Africa in 2003. EcoSchools gives recognition to schools that can show how they have improved the quality of environmental learning and sustainable management in their schools and communities. About 9 000 schools have earned green Eco-School flags in 50 countries around the world. Over 30 000 schools are registered with the programme, globally with approximately 9 million students and 628 000 teachers involved. Currently, there are around 1,200 registered EcoSchools in South Africa, with this number growing rapidly.

Now into its 8th year, many of the participating schools have started to tackle issues around climate change. Schools that received their 5th consecutive flag (international flag) in 2007 were required to place a special focus on climate change for 2008. This theme was continued in 2009, and in 2010 the theme was expanded to biodiversity and climate change. Through CAP, the DG Murray Trust supports EcoSchools with meeting the requirements for the new climate change curriculum and has supported the appointment of a national climate change coordinator to fulfil this objective.

EcoSchools has developed a number of resources for educating the youth around climate change and biodiversity issues. These include a climate change picture building game, climate change lesson plans for every grade, a series of climate change and biodiversity cartoons with activity pages, and the development of several information booklets, including the carbon footprint pilot booklet and the Handprint booklet series. Many of these resources are available for order through ShareNet.

In 2008 the CAP-EcoSchools Partnership was established, consisting of 20 schools that had been in the EcoSchools programme for at least three years and had expressed a genuine interest in being part of the climate change learning group. These schools had to demonstrate a proven commitment to learning about the environment and implementing environmental programmes in their schools. Today, EcoSchools has expanded the reach of the climate change curriculum to eleven nodes across the country, 6 of which are financially supported through the Climate Action Partnership. In addition to these schools, almost all EcoSchools explore the energy theme, which inevitably looks at climate change issues and ways to reduce resource use.

The EcoSchools Programme in South Africa is implemented by WESSA and supported by WWF-SA.


Bridget Ringdahl
National EcoSchools Coordinator
(033) 330 3931