A youth empowerment programme has seen an increase in the number of young South Africans who want to be part of climate change projects.
Nonprofit organisation Empowervate’s youth citizens action programme (Y-CAP) encourages primary and secondary school learners to identify problems in their schools or neighbourhoods and act to solve or lessen them.
The learners are then provided with a step-by-step values and project management toolkit and online workshops to launch their projects. These projects were then entered into the Y-CAP 2021 online competition where all the finalists competed to receive funding and equipment that enabled them to further their projects.
Although the project that won the competition in 2021 focused on climate change, the programme allowed learners to do a project of their choice such as poverty, racism, social problems and gender inequality in their schools, said Empowervate’s chief executive, Amanda Blankfield-Koseff.
The categories for the 2021 competition were junior, intermediate and senior secondary schools from various parts of the country.
Learners at Ncihana Junior Secondary School in Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape earned first place in the junior category for their project on climate change.
They revived a school garden, and the crop was given to fellow learners and also sold locally.
The project focused on recycling and promoting responsible water usage, using grey water.
“We have seen an increase in learners who do climate change and environment projects like recycling, being water-wise and the likes. I think it’s because they see the challenges in their communities and want to do something about it,” said Blankfield-Koseff.
Learners at Matlaisane Secondary School in North West won in the intermediate category for their project, which addressed food insecurity.
In the senior category, learners at Shobiyana Senior Secondary School in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, were winners for their Covid-19 safety awareness project.
The learners who participated in the projects were equipped to enable them to share their projects with nearby schools and their neighbourhoods to help tackle problems on a broader scale, Blankfield-Koseff said.
“The winners have showcased their enthusiasm about becoming active citizens and creators of change in their communities while helping to step closer to achieving the sustainable development goals,” she said.
Empowervate and its partners support the Y-CAP programme, which is implemented in collaboration with the department of basic education.
The winners received tablets, a cash prize that will go towards furthering their projects or starting new ones, individual book prizes, short-course bursaries, power banks and badges.