Learners tackle environmental health for a better future

    Ahmed Timol learners and educators showcased their enterprising solution to recycle unmanaged waste at Columba Leadership’s annual Youth Connection conference on Saturday.

    Litter is often the first sign of social decay. If communities are unable to address issues affecting their immediate environment, they are unlikely to be able to tackle issues that negatively impact society as a whole. Many streets in South Africa’s impoverished communities are lined with sweet and chip packets, fizzy drinks bottles and plastic bags. National Clean-up Week (10 – 16 September) was given a different perspective at the Columba Leadership’s annual Youth Connection conference by a school that has taken their litter problem into their own hands and as a result have made their community a better place to live.

    Learners and teachers at Ahmed Timol Secondary School in Krugersdorp, have designed and created dustbins from waste found in and around the school’s grounds. These bins have also been used to start a recycling programme to generate additional income for the school. These efforts have not only increased learner and staff morale, but have also led to a greater sense of pride in the school and community.

    “The recycling campaign has done more for our school than just clean our environment,” says Naeem Patel, an educator at Ahmed Timol. “Our learners and educators have started to consider the effect their actions and decisions have on their communities and future generations. It has changed the entire school’s mindset,” he says.

    Ahmed Timol is one of 32 schools that showcased innovative solutions to challenges faced by their communities on Saturday, 08 September, at Columba Leadership’s annual Youth Connection conference at Wits University Education campus. The conference forms part of a national roadshow, themed ‘Think Difference’, intended to bring inspired young leaders together to forge connections and ignite a culture of solution-finding to create a movement of positive social change.

    “Litter is one of a number of problems faced in impoverished communities. Including environmental appreciation in the Columba programme, is one of the many ways we encourage learners to take responsibility for their surrounds and to take ownership of their socio-economic context,” says Monique Blignaut, acting Columba Leadership Gauteng provincial manager.

    Other school initiatives showcased at the event include: Unity Secondary School’s #BoyTalk, where male teachers conduct open conversations with male learners to decrease discipline issues; Alafang Secondary School’s play #WordsOverWeapons which seeks to eradicate gender-based violence, and a vegetable garden at Rosina Secondary School to help alleviate hunger.

    “By advocating critical and innovative thinking, in times when it is easy to feel like a victim of circumstance, we are creating a group of ethical leaders and social entrepreneurs for South Africa’s future,” concludes Blignaut.

    For more information about Columba Leadership (www.columba.org.za) contact Tracy Hackland at [email protected] or 011 440 5790.