Education: Beyond the classroom and into the environment

What is the value of a well-rounded education? While the answer to this question is likely a subjective one, most agree that it is the basis for children to grow into productive members of society while fulfilling their own potential.

In its efforts to give more children access to quality learning, especially the underprivileged, ICT services company Business Connexion places a strong emphasis on education. Within that emphasis, however, the company seeks to provide depth and breadth beyond ‘standard’ instruction. It is into this category that its association with the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Eco-Schools programme has fallen over the past three years.

Arnold Beyleveld, CSI manager at Business Connexion, explains: “Children who are ready for life generally benefit from learning that isn’t limited to the schoolroom. They are exposed to and enjoy a wider variety of subjects and disciplines as they learn to relate effectively to the world in which they find themselves.”

An increasingly relevant component of such learning is environmental responsibility, Beyleveld notes. That’s where the WESSA/WWF Eco-Schools Programme plays an important role; it is an environmental education programme that facilitates sustained engagement between schools and environmental agencies.

Explaining, Beyleveld says Business Connexion has partnered with the WWF-SA in collaboration with the Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA), to bring this Eco-Schools Programme into the country.

“The intention is to achieve sustainable environmental management by integrating the environment into the national education curriculum, while empowering teachers and learners to implement environmental policies at school level,” he says.

In a world where the necessity for ‘green’ approaches to resource utilisation and where the growing societal focus on sustainability is changing the way in which people live and work, Beyleveld says this instruction is invaluable. “The Eco-Schools programme extends learning beyond the classroom and develops responsible attitudes and commitment, at home and in the wider community,” he notes.

Through the initiative, teachers are equipped to easily link environmental learning to the academic curriculum and implement practical solutions, from recycling and vegetable gardens to energy audits.

In 2011, says Beyleveld, almost 1 000 schools registered with the programme and nearly 560 received Eco-Schools awards.

Significantly, Beyleveld says, this additional layer of learning is considered a component of the Business Connexion mission to empower young people to be able to change their lives.

“Understanding the environment and our role and responsibility towards it is emerging as the major challenge of our time. Involving school-going children in the quest for sustainability and reduced impact on our world means fostering a culture of appreciation for and commitment to looking after our heritage.”

Its involvement in the WESSA/WWF programme is just one element of Business Connexion’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes, which allocates more than 75% of its budget towards education. Other initiatives include support for the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club, the provision of IT labs to schools, Rally to Read, and the Information Technology Business Learnership Programme.

Says Beyleveld: “Through our initiatives, we are seeking to provide young people with quality education that covers a range of topics and issues, broadening the horizons of learners and giving them ever greater opportunities to realise their potential. As a company, Business Connexion believes firmly in the value of rounded education in the development of the next generation – and that belief guides our investments.”

Source: CSR AFrica.Net – 10 Feb 2012