Ebola and What it Revealed in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

May 2015, Sierra Leone

Ebola became a household name when it unleashed its wrath on the majority of innocent and ignorant inhabitants of Sierra Leone in May of 2014. There was little knowledge about the Ebola virus and its transmission thread, and its symptoms were the same as malaria, typhoid fever, cholera and other common ailments prevalent in the country.

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However, despite warnings from World health organization emphasizing the deadliness of the disease, not much was in place to stop its spread. It overran the country and became uncontrollable, killing thousands of people and leaving some physically challenged and others bearing the brunt of other consequences such as being orphaned, stigmatized, and fleeing their homelands to would-be protected and safe communities where they met their untimely death.

The consequences did not stop there; it halted commerce, travel and the operations of extractive industries. Most people lost their jobs, schools and colleges closed for almost a year, farmers ate up seeds reserved for farming, and most foreign nationals had to leave. This in its entirety burst the economy with the inhabitants bearing the dire consequences.

There was seen a national and global complacency in the fight against Ebola. The nationals had ill knowledge about the disease and were generally ill-equipped to tackle the spread of the disease. The global response was very slow. Complacency and traditional beliefs overtook the real fight, disregarding the Ebola preventative messages and manipulating funds for self-gain rather than collectively using the resources to eradicate the virus disease.

However, as it became an international grand challenge, the global alliance to fight the deadly virus had a breakthrough in bringing the spread of Ebola under control. The exercises in achieving this success were very costly to the people of Sierra Leone, however, it had to be done, to save the nation from a catastrophic situation. Proactive local measures also make up part of the larger resilience in the fight against Ebola.

The times are yet challenging as the majority of the citizenry are struggling with daily survival. However, as infection rates dwindle, the government ordered the reopening of all schools and colleges on 16 April 2015 with precautionary measures put in place to protect the teachers and learners.

Learners received news of schools resuming with joy. One can feel and sense their joy as they had since been carrying on without the right to education, association and play. Many parents are still skeptical about the safety of their kids while the virus is still killing people, and every parent or guardian should take the time to remind their kids about Ebola, with messages of avoiding companionship, play and contacts of any nature. Schools hold veronica buckets as a policy for every child to wash his or her hands and go through temperature test to qualify for entry into the school compound.

  learners are happy to get back to school after the ebola crisis

The reopening of schools was not spontaneous, the government in itself was not sure of parents sending their kids to school. A national campaign reassuring parents of the safety measures already put in place by the education, health and the national Ebola response centre was done. However, the first week was unpleasant and even the second week. It gained roots in the first week of May when kids turned out in their thousands to rejoin themselves in learning after a restricted safety period of almost one year.

It is worth seeing the reunification of learners, disregarding all precautionary measures and counsel from parents hugging each other and explaining stories about the devastation of their various communities by the Ebola virus disease. They play football together, smack each other and do their tricks. In the heat, they cluster despite knowledge of avoiding body contact.

However, the first lessons are on Ebola in every school across the country. How to sustain the gains already scored in the fight against Ebola. The kids are now torchbearers at home in the fight against Ebola. They pass on the messages to their parents and other family members. They also watch with keen interest defaulters of the precautionary measures at home. They are also bold enough to tell their parents to wash their hands and even have a shower after any trip to the city centre, market, workplace or whatever.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus exposed the overall inadequacies of the country. It spans from poor health care delivery, high illiteracy rate, over-reliance on tradition over modern wisdom, selfish tendencies, filthiness, poor personal hygiene, ugly environmental decay, corrupt nature to the bones at higher levels, poor educational facilities, poor transportation service, very disgraceful social services specific to children’s welfare, greed at every cadre, unsustainable practices at every cadre of society, and disregard for the rural poor. The list has no end in sight…

The consequences are vivid, suffering of the poor in every human rights perspective. Will lessons be learnt – this remains the million-dollar question.

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There are still plenty of needs, but if charities intervene, will the grants benefit the needy or will it go into private pockets and fabulous reports written with beautiful photos to convince donors whilst the actual beneficiaries continue to languish in squalor – this is a great concern. This is borne out of experience working in a poor country like Sierra Leone…living it, feeling it and seeing it. Action taken in mind of this has been positive – frantically stepping out and making noise about it for a turnaround in the situation…this is one way of several other ways employed by the reporter.

Attention should be paid to direct foreign aid; it is worthwhile to come as volunteers to accomplish your heart’s desires of helping; or seek credible local charities to accomplish such tasks in an honest and transparent manner for the good of humanity.

This Earth Day, Stand up for Youth Engagement

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, Regions, Take Action

first-photograph-of-the-entire-earth-nasa-apollo-8-1968Photo Source: Google

It is true that the most celebrated photograph in the world is of Earth, famously called Earthrise. In 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 mission took a photograph of Earth from space. The photograph of a beautiful azure planet floating peacefully changed our perspective of Earth as not just a mere dump. Humanity started viewing it as a delicate living planet where millions of species live together, sharing this vast space and calling it home.

The photograph is also credited for initiating the environmental movement and giving birth to 22 April as Earth Day. For once I am happy to know that Earthrise is the most celebrated photograph in the world and it is not of a woman. Knowing how a woman’s body is objectified these days and is used to sell everything from men razors to boxer shots. This restored my faith in humanity.

We can’t take the earth for granted especially given the fast deteriorating condition of the global environment. Sustainable lifestyle choices are the need of the time. With youth making up half of the population, it is important to raise awareness among young people on how to take care of the earth so that life may persist.

This Earth Day we need to stand up for youth engagement. The Earth Charter Principle 12c stresses the importance of youth engagement.

 “Honor and support the young people of our communities, enabling them to fulfill their essential role in creating sustainable societies.”
Education for Sustainability, a project of Nektarina Non-Profit, believes that to establish a just and sustainable society it is important to engage youth, empower them and work to build their capacity. In the past, Nektarina Non-Profit has worked closely with the Earth Day Network, keeping in mind the Earth Charter principles. Nektarina Non-Profit has been offering platforms to youth to learn the values of a sustainable way of life in India, Ghana, Cameroon , Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.  It plans to continue supporting youth, encouraging them to embrace the sustainability vision of Earth Charter.

To celebrate World Environment Day 2014 in India, Nektarina Non-Profit organized a rally in Pune. Students from different institutions, universities, schools, and colleges; representatives of civil society organizations, companies, and political parties were gathered at one event to celebrate World Environment Day. It did manage to raise awareness among young people about the environmental issues and how to make sustainable lifestyle choices, care for the Earth and be an active participant in the environment movement. This year again Nektarina Non Profit will be holding an event in India in June.

Youth engagement is not just a buzzword in the development field. The term has more to do with youth involvement in challenging unsustainable norms and taking responsible actions to create positive change. Instead of waiting for a grand cataclysmic change it is time to give our little contribution, whenever and wherever possible. So this Earth Day let’s stand up for youth engagement and put the planet Earth in the hands of informed citizens of tomorrow.

E4S Awareness Session in India

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in News, Uncategorized

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As part of the Education for Sustainability project in India, we have continued work with our partner Zest Youth Movement, focusing particularly on awareness sessions as one of our main initiatives.

There is an urgent need to educate people in general, youth and children in particular, on sustainability, as knowledge and information can be a tool of great empowerment for change, and this is the only way we will become more sustainable. Therefore we use these awareness sessions and workshops to reach out to thousands of students directly to teach them about sustainability, inform them about sustainable lifestyles, and make sure they are aware of key environmental issues.

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We recently conducted an Education for Sustainable Development awareness session at Yashwantrao Chavan Secondary School and Vishwakarma English Medium School, in Pune, India. More than 500 students and 20 teachers attended the session.

The awareness session was just one part of the Environmental Awareness Week program organised by Pune Municipal Corporation. We also held a Best Out of Waste session and hosted a screening of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s documentary HOME.

Through these sessions, we hoped to achieve multiple goals:

  • To reach as many students as possible, and contribute to making them aware of environmental issues and sustainable lifestyles.
  • To have an additional successful activity which can be used to strengthen advocacy arguments by showing how schools and students are interested in sustainability.
  • To enable the realisation that we have a shared responsibility to care for the earth and that individuals have the power to become agents of change.
  • To spread the message of UNEP – Every action counts, and when multiplied by a global chorus, becomes exponential in its impact.
  • To help children and young people understand that resources need to be managed carefully to be sustainable.
  • To address global environmental issues like excess waste, food, deforestation, climate change, etc.
  • To encourage students to take action to improve their local environment by making it cleaner and safer.

As well as the awareness session and the documentary screening, there were several other activities for students to engage in, from other videos to open discussion sessions.

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Justice Deferred is Justice Denied

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, E-Magazine, General Information, News, News & Updates, Take Action

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Photo Source: Google

On Wednesday the Federal Government of Pakistan temporarily deferred execution of a 14-year old Shafqat Hussain just few hours before he was set to be hanged. In Pakistan the use of torture evidence and execution of juveniles is illegal. Surely the legal system has specific procedures for dealing with juvenile delinquents yet Shafqat Hussain was arrested and tortured to confess to killing of a child.

The only evidence the courts had was his confession he made after nine days of being tortured in a police cell. He was not tried as a juvenile nor was he given access to a lawyer.

Moments like these make me recall the famous quotation; peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice. Justice is a fascinating word. We hope to get justice in an unjust world, made unjust by our power hunger, selfishness and greed. Where is the compassion we are seeking? Why are we seeking it in the first place?

What a shame that it took the weight of civil society and an uproar to push the Minister into deferring the execution just hours before he was due to be taken to the gallows. We seek the judicial system for justice and what if the same system is flawed as an entity? We don’t know how many other juveniles are facing the same fate.

Being a signatory of child rights conventions, Pakistan should take measures to meet standards of juvenile justice. Sarah Coleman, Child Protection Chief, UNICEF

The existing Juvenile Justice Ordinance 2000, consisting of only 15 sections, does not cover many important aspects pertaining to child delinquencies, the ordinance needs to be improved. Barrister Salman Safdar

Shafqat Hussain was kept in solitary confinement, blindfolded and beaten brutally by the police. He was being electrocuted and stubbed lit cigarettes on his arms while being asked to confess to the crime.

 I was tortured so severely and continuously that my mind ‘just stopped’. I have no recollection of the trial. Shafqat Hussain

It is important to note that after a seven-year moratorium, Pakistan has reintroduced the death penalty and has also introduced military courts. It will begin executions where clemency and appeals are no longer an option. Following the 2014 Peshawar school attacks that killed over 100 children, the death penalty was reintroduced last December.  According to Amnesty International since 2012, 24 people have been executed including three whose convictions were unrelated to terrorism.

Is this shameful retreat to the gallows a way to resolve Pakistan’s persistent security and law -and -order problems? Those who argue the shallow logic of an eye for an eye, it is worthy to note that the charges of blasphemy, adultery and apostasy are also punishable by death. It is indeed a moral catastrophe for Pakistan. The death penalty and military courts are not known to be the deterrents of crime, especially the military courts where the judges and prosecutors come from army ranks. This indeed is a controversial addition to the flawed judicial system along with Anti-terrorism Courts.

Two months after Pakistan’s Interior Ministry stayed the execution of Shafqat Hussain and ordered an inquiry into why a juvenile was given a death sentence, Pakistan’s Anti-terrorism Court issues a fresh execution order.

Draconian courts like these operate on the premise that the accused is guilty unless proven innocent. Shafqat Hussain who has spent 11 years on death row was not a militant and had nothing to do with terrorism. He worked as a caretaker of an apartment building during his brief freedom in Karachi.

In an era of injustice, shameful violence and intolerance it is our duty to raise our voices for sanity and compassion.  We can’t call Pakistan just and democratic when it provides assistance to banned armed outfits, violent sectarian groups and puts innocent juveniles on death row.

Best Out of Waste Contest – India

Written by Marianne on . Posted in General Information, News, Uncategorized

Nektarina and its Indian partner Zest Youth Movement undertook the Best out of Waste Contest in Pune from November 2014 to February 2015.

The concept

Students were invited to prepare any object they want (like utilitarian or decorative objects, accessories, furniture articles, showpieces, etc), from any waste material, using their inspiration, ideas and creativity, understanding that waste material is something found in the garbage or something that is normally intended to be thrown away.

Our goal through the activity was multiple:

  • To reach maximum number of students and contribute to make them aware about environmental issues and how to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle,
  • To collect some ideas from students through self-expression,
  • Strengths advocating arguments in showing how schools and scholars are interested in sustainability topics,
  • For students to learn and progressively understand that resources should be used carefully, that they could reuse waste material and not always depend on new things,
  • Engage parents and families in the activity and moreover raise sustainability awareness among them, considering that part of the activity will be done from home,
  • Spread inspiration, awareness and sustainability understanding to other students through the exhibition of the works.
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The contest

Mr Suresh More, E4S Country manager for India organised the activity with some volunteers’ help.

Approximately 600 students, from 10 to 17 years old and from nine different schools very enthusiastically participated in the competition.

The response from the students was very good. They prepared very nice things from different waste materials, which were then put up in the exhibitions. The teachers cooperated positively as well and very much liked the topic.

We focused the competition on children, as we aim to bring them to understand the importance of preserving the environment and moreover learn more about sustainability: That we should not throw away waste things, that we could use them again for different purposes and that we should not cause harm to nature.

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The outcomes

The jury has chosen the best works at school level, out of which the 6 best ones were selected. The winners received awards (jute folders and certificates) by the hands of the Principals of Schools in presence of students and teachers representatives. An exhibition and ceremony took place in each school.

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We are very proud of the beautiful works made by the students!

Look at the selection below and all the works here (Flickr).

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Deliberating on Sustainability

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Books & Magazine, E-Magazine, General Information, Green Economy, India, News, News & Updates, Publications, Take Action

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A poster at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit

The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit is held every year around a theme that is identified as the most pressing issue of the current times. The themes at DSDS have ranged from protecting the global commons to global challenge of resource efficient growth and development.

Currently energy crisis, water and food crisis are emerging problems. To create a robust green economy these three interlinked and interdependent resources should be secured.  “Sustainable Development Goals and dealing with climate change” was identified as the theme for the 15th edition of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, held from 5-7 February, 2015 in New Delhi, India.

From Lima to Paris while stopping by in India these gatherings that bring together important personalities and decision makers provide a platform for people to come together and talk about issues that have become a huge concern of this century. It is just a matter of time whether these talks will be materialized into actions, productive actions that will put a full stop on the abuse of earth’s resources.

This year’s Summit at Delhi discussed these specific issues, striving to find ways forward towards a sustainable future.  Mr. Kofi Annan (Nobel Laureate and Former Secretary-General, United Nations) gave an inaugural keynote address in 2014 stating that just like the developed world the developing countries cannot continue to exploit the resources of the world as lack of access to energy, water and food withholds the growth of the developing world.

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Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger with other prominent speakers at DSDS

Several eminent world leaders participated in the event including speakers from diverse sectors like the famous action hero and former Governor of California Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In terms of Gujarat’s clean energy actions he termed Gujarat as “the California of India”. He said:

“Climate change is not science fiction and it is impacting us right now. This is bigger than a movie and this is the biggest challenge of our times.”

“Mr. Modi has shown that small actions and sub-national governments have tremendous power. They don’t have to wait for national governments to create action,” he said adding that Mr. Modi would prove the naysayers in the world wrong. Mr. Schwarzenegger said, “We must think differently if we are going to win the battle [against climate change] and change the world.” He added.

Despite managing to gather eminent personalities in the global south, the DSDS did not get enough media attention like the other big conferences on similar issues. This does raise a question here. Is the developing world considered less important when it comes to tackling grave problems knowing it is being affected the most?

Recently the environment minister of India said that clean energy will form a main part of India’s national climate strategy yet Prakash Javedekar added that India would resist any outside scrutiny with reference to the European calls for transparency.

“There is no question of an ex-ante review in an independent country and democratic country like India,” Javedekar said.

On speaking about the road to a UN summit in Paris this December, where world leaders hope to come up with a global climate deal, Mr.Prakash Javedekar said that since the last half century the carbon emissions have increased with each passing day and now the developing world is asking the developed world will it vacate the carbon space?

By the end of March the developed countries are expected to reveal their draft contributions towards the international effort to limit carbon emissions. India is among a number of developing countries that promises to publish its climate plan.Susheel Kumar, a top official and climate negotiator, said that the government is striving for a transparent and comprehensive national climate strategy that will be based on consultation with civil society in India . He added “There is no room for international intervention.”

The grave problem of climate justice that affects the entire world population should be about coming up with a strategy that is inclusive and is not discriminatory. Here we have to put aside the hierarchy of the developed and developing world as we all are together in this.  Green growth talks about the earthlings. It has been recognized to have the potential to develop a resilient, sustainable and inclusive pattern of growth across countries.

This is the message we need to take back with us from these high profile conferences and not a rift that highlights the polar extremes as a hindrance to achieve the stated goal.

How we implemented the Children and Youth Drawing Competition and Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development in Cameroon

Written by Marianne on . Posted in Cameroon, General Information, News, News & Updates

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.

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Launching of the competition
The 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.IMAG1346 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.

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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.

Award ceremony

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.

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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.

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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.

Finally, we are glad to invite you to see all the pictures of this activity and a selection of drawings on our Flickr page.