GAFI Schools Twinning Programme
What is it?
The GAFI Schools Twinning Project began in 2014 after a visit from Denis Agaba, our GAFI educator in Uganda. His tour around 12 UK schools with a Pedal Powered Cinema (PPC) allowed UK children to have an insight into the life of a child in Uganda and the environmental challenges that face the great apes who live near to their homes and schools. The tour was a great success, inspiring every school to write letters, send gifts and resources and begin projects with a carefully chosen twin school in Uganda.
Nicky Bolton, our GAFI Schools Coordinator has continued to work with Denis since the tour, developing projects to encourage long-lasting fruitful environmental partnerships between the UK and Ugandan Schools. Our intention is to allow children to devise educational initiatives and projects to share ways to improve the environment both locally and globally.
In Uganda, Denis leads regular PPC screenings and talks outlining the plight of the great apes and the importance of preserving the environment both locally and globally. He encourages discussion afterwards, allowing the children to choose local solutions like tree planting, joining or creating wildlife clubs or even becoming great ape ambassadors for their region. The Education minister in Uganda has recognised GAFI screenings as an important contribution to environmental education with over 200,000 children having seen screenings in school. Most importantly schools in remote areas have been reached. This is often first time children or teachers have ever seen a film and learned about the animals, the habit they live in and the importance of conserving it.
Results so far
In the UK, schools have also seen the PPC screenings that Denis uses in Uganda. This has allowed children in the UK to devise lots of exciting projects to share with their Ugandan twins. Recent projects have included; tree and cabbage planting, sharing of conservation ideas and knowledge, “All about me” projects, letter writing, endangered species projects, film making, artwork and even science experiments! The impact on UK schools has been significant, with many schools integrating their GAFI work into the heart of their curriculum. Several schools have also used their GAFI work to satisfy the requirements of Global Citizenship and GAFI work has also proved a very crucial element of the ECO Schools programme in Heswall Primary, Overleigh St. Mary’s Primary, Ashton Hayes Primary and Westminster Primary.
At present we have 8 active schools in the programme;
- Christleton High School, Chester- Muhanga High
- Christleton Primary School, Chester- Bright Valley
- Overleigh St. Mary’s Primary, Chester- Rubuguri Primary
- Ashton Hayes Primary- Kisekye Primary
- Westminster Primary, Wirral- Mughanza Primary
- Barrow Primary- Rukongi Primary
- Heswall Primary- Kisoro Demo
- Wickford Primary- Mutolere PS
…..but are actively looking for more;
We have endeavoured to make our educational programme sustainable, by working with schools who have been able to make a continued commitment to the UK/Ugandan twinning programme. In the short term, we hope that the twinning programmes we currently run, will continue to explore new and exciting projects that can be cascaded to other schools across the great apes range states in Africa and SE Asia. We desperately need more volunteers in the UK to support this scheme.
In the future, we hope, overseas, to introduce more PPC units to other great apes range states in Africa and SE Asia, encouraging new educators to create more wildlife clubs, develop school twinning links with the UK and train school leavers to be ambassadors for great apes.
The possibilities of this project are limitless…..to date we have always encouraged the children not the adults to generate ideas and projects to move the work of GAFI forwards. As the environmental custodians of the future, involving children in our work is vital, if we are to ensure the next generation realise the importance of conserving both their local and global environment.