Remember the E4S project implemented with support from the Cameroon-based youth-led NGO Vital Actions for Sustainable Development (AVD) a Children and Youth Drawing Competition and Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development. These activities took place in the city of Yaoundé during two months, from 25 August to 25 October 2014.
The Drawing Competition
The drawing competition was organized under the theme « Make a ‘Green’ Wish for the Planet » with the aim to promote education for sustainability in its social, economic and environmental pillars while also encouraging an open reflection on this theme which shall be placed at the centre of education of children, youth and citizens both inside and outside educational systems.
The competition was opened to children and youth of Cameroon, aged 10 to 20 years, students or not. They were invited to produce an artwork in the form of a drawing which represented their dream or wish for a greener and sustainable planet without pollution, where waste is recycled, sustainable energy is used and all citizens work together to protect earth from harm. Entries were also required to raise awareness about education for sustainability and inspire citizens on the topic.
Launching of the competitionThe competition was implemented throughout three main phases. The first step was the official launching which took place on Monday 25 August in Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School with the participation of students from Bastos Educative Centre. The launch event started at 10 a.m with as its first item a welcoming word by the head of the host school, followed by the presentation of the E4S project by the local representative who also presented the drawing competition theme and the expectations from participants. The importance for children and youth to take part in the contest was highlighted by him and he mentioned the amazing prizes to win by 10 children and 10 youth. A representative from the working team who developed the WWF Youth Strategy for Education for Sustainable, delivered a short word and his intervention was followed by a group of students from the hosting school which performed a great traditional dance. Ahead of and during the launching, the E4S project team has distributed flyers with information about the competition and students and other potential participants were invited to join the educative talks scheduled by the project team. The launch event ended with an open-microphone for the public which served as a free space for people to express themselves and share their opinions about their understanding of the competition and the value of education for sustainable. The launch has ended around 2 p.m with a lot of music being played and open floor.
Educative talks in the schools
After the launch event, the E4S project team in Cameroon has delivered a number of 4 educative talks in the two targeted schools in Yaoundé city, with 2 educative talks organized per school. The talks were held during two weeks, from Monday 1st to Friday 12th September. Their main objective was to enable children and youth interested to participate in the competition to get familiar with the topic, the participation rules and to receive useful knowledge and information that could enable them to have a successful participation with very good entries. The E4S project team has facilitated the talks and got support from teachers in the schools. The talks took place as follows:
Educative talks in Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School
The primary school hosted its talks on Wednesday 3 and on Friday 12 September. The project team went to the school on these days and had an open talk and discussion with the students on the competition topic in order to achieve the above objective. The students were really interested ad an active participation was noted. The teachers who supported the talks also encouraged their school children to give special attention the activity in order for them to learn and also win prizes.
Educative talks in Nkolbisson Government High School
The secondary school welcomed its educative talks on Friday 5 and Wednesday 10 September. The facilitators from E4S Cameroon team have accompanied students by providing them with support and assistance to produce good entries and understand well the competition theme and guidelines. During the second talk they had a chance to show results from personal reflections they made on their preparation for the competition. This has enabled the team to make suggestions to improve ideas students had as well as provide them with more practical knowledge on the topic.
Promotion of the competition in the schools and collection of entries
After the educative talks were completed, students from both schools were given three weeks, from Monday 15 September to Sunday 5 October, to start producing their drawings. This period of time was agreed in order to enable participants to submit many and good quality entries. The initial deadline for participation fixed on Friday 19 September was postponed to 5 October, International Teacher Day, because it was not very easy at that time to get students focused on an extra-school activity given that they just started the school year. It was therefore necessary to adjust the dates.
During the three weeks the project team went many times to the two schools in order to motivate and encourage the students to consider the competition as serious and thus participate. This task was supported by the teachers and also by some volunteers. The promotion of the competition was also made through the installation of posters announcing the competition in both schools as well as announcements during school gatherings which take place every Monday morning.
Selection of the competition’s winners
From 6 to 8 October a total of 232 entries were collected in both schools and external participants (students and non students) by the project team with the teachers support. Out of this number, only 200 drawings met the competition guidelines and were submitted later to the appreciation of a national jury which has chosen the winners. 169 entries came from primary schools and 63 were collected from secondary schools. At the end a number of 150 drawings from primary schools were submitted to the jury with 50 retained from the secondary school. The jury therefore needed to evaluate a total of 200 entries in order to select twenty (20) winners of the competition, including 10 in the children category aged 6 to 11 years and 10 in the youth category aged 12 to 20 years.
The selection of the winners for the drawing competition took place on Tuesday 21 October at Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School which has offered to host the activity. The five members of the jury were chosen based on their support to the drawing competition, their understanding of the competition theme, their engagement with educational school activities, and their role as teachers or educators in both participating schools.
The jury had as main tasks to select twenty (20) best entries and rank them by merit order using a fair selection process and the following criteria: originality (5 pts), quality (5 pts), connection of the drawing with the contest theme (5 pts), contribution to the E4S project’s vision for Cameroon (5 pts) and the impact the entry could create on Cameroon ESD policy when shown to others (5 pts).
The jury meeting started at 3 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. It was not an easy task given the good quality of some of the entries. The jury has first shortlisted some entries before making its final decision on them – the aim here was to better structure the process. Members reviewed all 200 entries one after another and then ranked them by merit order. This process was anonymous given that members were mainly teachers from the participating schools, thus knew some participants. The jury work has ended with a key reflection workshop on the competition learning which was facilitated by E4S local representative in Cameroon with a dynamic contribution from all members.
The award ceremony for the drawing competition was held on Thursday 23 October 2014 in Nkolbisson Government High School in Yaoundé. It was attended by over 50 people, including the 20 winners of the contest, teachers from both schools, other students from the host school as well as special guests and family members who all came to encourage and congratulate the winners.
The event started at 12 p.m. with the singing of Cameroon national anthem by everyone. The E4S local representative in Cameroon then took the floor in order to remind the context and background of the competition. He also gave a summary of all activities that were organized. After him the President of the jury talked about the process to select the winners and how dynamic and engaging this task was, according to him. His words were followed by the opening remarks from the Head of Nkolbisson Government High School – the host school of the ceremony. She firstly recognized the importance of such initiative in empowering a new generation of young people who shall commit themselves to a better future and world. She then thanked the E4S team for their efforts in organizing the contest and appreciated the choice of her school for hosting the award ceremony. After her remarks, she invited the first prize’s winners from each category of the contest and gave them with their awards. The other winners were then called one by one in order to also be rewarded by the Head, jury members or teachers.
All winners received prizes which included certificates signed by E4S local representative in Cameroon and Nektarina CEO, T-shirts sponsored by Plant-for-the-Planet, books and magazines offered by Plant-for-the-Planet and Planete Jeunes, school supplies, bags, drawing materials, flyers about E4S, and the promotion of their drawings during the ceremony. The winning entries were therefore exhibited during the award ceremony. Winners along with their families, friends, classmates and teachers were present and had a great time. The ceremony ended with a group photo where all winners, teachers, jury members, organizers, guests and the Head of the host school came together. After that a cocktail was opened to participants.
The Teachers’ Workshop
One very important activity to organize as part of the E4S project in Cameroon was a Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development. This workshop was held on Tuesday 21 October at Nkolndongo Bilingual Primary School following the selection jury. The resource persons who took part in the jury work were the same given their support to the drawing competition, their understanding of the competition theme, their engagement with educational school activities, and their role as teachers or educators in both participating schools.
The aim of the workshop was to reflect the results of the drawing competition in order to discuss how it has provided participants with a learning journey to better understand the topic of sustainability and their possible role as agents of change. Secondly the workshop engaged the participants in a discussion on how a reform in the education sector in Cameroon could lead to the insertion of education for sustainability in the school curricula at the basic and secondary levels as a separate topic that will help the government to educate and empower citizens. Based on the drawings they have evaluated as member of the selection jury, the participants were able to see a link between this overall goal and what the children and youth have shared through their entries. The workshop has used a roundtable and open discussion as the methodology to enable contribution and dynamic participation.
From this reflection, it came out that many participants from both categories mainly understand the term ‘‘sustainability’’ in its environmental dimension (protection of the nature, fight against climate change or deforestation, waste management, planting trees, ensuring a greener world, etc). It was missing the other dimensions of sustainability and this has led the workshop participants to understand that it is very important that children and youth are knowledgeable about sustainability in all its aspects so that they are able to support this and get actively involved at the end of the day. Without a higher awareness raising action, there are huge risks that young people don’t see the point or importance of getting active in sustainability. Thus the importance of educating citizens – young people included – on sustainable development and sustainability is highly needed in Cameroon if the country want to achieve a cohort of citizens empowered on this notion and topic.
The workshop also discovered that the expected benefits of the competition on the participants are still far to be achieved and there will be a need for more focused action in a regular basis. If some participants have really shared their personal views (through their drawings) on what they wish for the future of the earth, many didn’t get the right approach or answer to the contest theme. This shows the lack of knowledge or interest on the topic, but also the lack of the educational system in Cameroon to make citizens aware of this topic and knowledgeable about.
In addition to these reflection points, the workshop participants also had an opportunity to evaluate each of the 20 winning entries in order to explore the possible ways they could be used later when the E4S project team in Cameroon would like to enter into a dialogue with the government of Cameroon and other stakeholders. This dialogue which could lead to established discussion about how a reform in the education sector in Cameroon could enable the insertion of education for sustainability topic in the school curricula of the basic and secondary education in order to educate and empower citizens with related skills. It would have been a great opportunity for the participants to also discuss directly with representatives from the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders such as UNESCO National Commission in Cameroon in case they would have attended the talks.