By Sumner Kangbap
On Saturday 28th September 2019 the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary (TCS) officially launched the Roots and Shoots program at its Regent sanctuary outside Freetown.
The aim of the project, founded by the world’s renowned primatologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, who visited Sierra Leone early this year, is to catch pupils young so that they can be interested in the environment as well as protect the country’s National Animal, the chimpanzee.
The first set of beneficiaries of the project is the 38 pupils from the Mountain Rural Secondary School who were taken on a conducted tour of the sanctuary. Two videos on climate change, the environment and protection of the National Animal, the chimpanzee, were screened after which the pupils asked questions that were responded to.
The pupils also staged two plays-boys and girls, on how they plan to initiate action programs in their school and community to protect the environment and in the process mitigate climate change as well as protect the chimps.
The girls won the competition.
Most of the pupils interviewed welcomed the initiative that has given them an insight into the operations of the sanctuary that not only rescues and takes care of chimps but also undertakes research, supports communities with alternative sources of income to prevent them destroying trees and other conservation programs.
The pupils also appealed to the sanctuary to continue the project for the benefit of others.
The project will continue with pupils from other schools who will benefit from visiting the sanctuary to learn more about nature and chimps.
The world renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall created Roots & Shoots 25 years ago with 12 Tanzanian high school students who wanted to tackle urgent environmental issues in their community.
Roots & Shoots groups are now making a positive difference for people, other animals and the environment all around the world. Dr. Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the youth engagement program of the Jane Goodall Institute and is active in 87 countries. The program inspires and empowers young people to become compassionate leaders who are globally mindful and locally active by guiding them through youth-led, community environment –related projects that help people, other animals and the environment.
On February 2019, Dr. Jane Goodall visited Tacugama and Roots & Shoots programme was official launched in Sierra Leone.
The mission of Roots and Shoots is to empower young people to affect positive change for the environment in their communities: Every individual matters, every individual has a role to play, every individual can help make a difference.
The goal of the Roots and Shoots programme aims to promote in the youth compassion and empathy, leadership skills, inquiry and research skills, critical thinking skills, systems thinking skills, global mindfulness, confidence, respect for diverse perspectives, awareness of local sustainability issues and their root causes, understanding of the interconnectedness of people, other animals and the environment.
The objective of the Roots and Shoots programme is to bring students together from Secondary schools and Universities, and create youth-lead groups to work on understanding and giving possible solutions to environmental and conservation issues by engaging them in proposing fun activities and projects that can help to improve their surroundings and ecosystems.
A lot of young people in schools especially those in high school are believed to spend much of their time in front of screens and on cell phones; they have become disconnected from nature. Engaging students will allow them to connect with nature and learn more on conservation while gaining practical skills that will help them solve the alarming environmental problems in their communities.
Some examples of the possible activities are community mapping, establishing school gardens and further tree planting. Community day (Environmental awareness using posters, movies, community clean up), organizing field trips to National Parks, forest hikes, botanical identification, community beautification, waste management/personal hygiene presentation, school to school sensitization, recycling techniques, cultural activities, movies/painting/music/writing etc), conservation football tournaments and advocacy media approach.
For the implementation of Roots and Shoots projects in schools and communities, a voluntary service from participants is the key. The spirit of Roots and Shoots is volunteering for a better world! Participants are encouraged to assist to make the project a success and school partners are encouraged to support the groups in whatever possible in order to reach the goals. This support can be such as providing material, transport, snacks and access to school grounds or classrooms to the Roots and Shoots School group.
The activities are flexible and can change depending on the new ideas brought by the Roots and Shoots groups.
Tacugama Kids Environmental Programme – (TKEEP) -Tacugama Chimpanzees Sanctuary (TCS) since its inception in 1995 has been working with school children within the Regent community creating a platform for children to learn about nature and wildlife.
The aim of TKEEP is to support environmental education in urban and rural schools. In this regard TCS is a successful model that combines chimpanzee’s protection and environmental education. TKEEP has been successful in both rural and urban schools delivering environmental education using a comprehensive 13 lesson workbook on the environment, wildlife conservation and waste management.
Environmental Days: Each academic term, students participate in tree planting and other hands-on activities to demonstrate their understanding of conservation through dramas, cultural dances and poem recitation.
Wildlife Ambassadors: Wildlife Ambassadors promote leadership amongst students involved in the education programme to go above and beyond conservation in their schools/communities. Two students are voted by their classmates as Wildlife Ambassadors to represent their schools and to implement environmental projects ranging from school gardens, organizing community cleanups, tree nursery establishment, football, drama, and cultural performances.
During 2018-19 school year, TKEEP schools expanded to 14 rural schools and 12 urban primary schools with over 1000 students.