KHORIXAS – Since 2012, scores of Namibian students have benefitted from the Youth Environmental Summit (YES) programme that gave them exposure to environmental issues that are globally and nationally relevant, says Nelly Black, the training coordinator at the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre.
This year, 34 pupils from 19 schools from seven regions took part in this programme.
Negumbo Senior Secondary School (Omusati), St. Boniface Secondary School (Kavango East), Karasburg Combined School (//Kharas), Otjiwanda Secondary School (Otjozondjupa), Westside High School (Erongo), Petrus !Ganeb (Erongo), Martin Luther High School (Erongo), Dolphin High School (Erongo), S.I !Gobs Secondary School (Erongo), Windhoek High School (Khomas), Jan Möhr Secondary School (Khomas), Hochland High School (Khomas), Deutche Hohere Privatschule (Khomas), Windhoek Technical School (Khomas) were some of the schools that took part.
The format of the summit is designed to provide learners with an engaging and challenging experience in environmental research, addressing a research theme of international salience since 2014 following the annual international day theme set by the United Nations Programme in a Namibian context, said Black.
Every year, research projects are designed by staff at Gobabeb Research and Training Centre. According to a biodiversity theme, the learning approach of the YES is to intensively train about 30 pupils from Grade 11, but this year pupils in Grade 12 were also selected through an application process in a week-long research project mentored by Gobabeb staff and YES alumni.
“The educational ethos behind YES aims to instill in YES participants a sustained interest in scientific process and exposure to practical application of classroom knowledge in the real world context,” Black told New Era recently. YES’s main goals are to expose pupils to the scientific process, fieldwork and current leading topics in environmental science, to inspire pupils to explore future endeavours in scientific research and career opportunities in the environmental field as well as to promote critical thinking, scientific inquiry and observation skills, emphasised Black.
The training coordinator at the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre said YES aims to target all the regions, and that previous off-site locations include the Waterberg Plateau, Sossusvlei and Etosha.
On the importance of pupils taking part, Black said: “A healthy environment and ecosystem provide us with all our life-functioning services including the most basics like food and water. With the lack of care we have given the environment in the past, it is up to the youth to engage in ways of conserving and using resources in sustainable ways, if we are to ensure healthy and long lived communities.”
However, Black says this is not only a task for the youth but for every Namibian citizen.