The project would introduce and encourage student participation on an environmental protection social networking platform called the Tunza eco-generation through: 1. Environmental outreaches to selected schools in Pretoria to educate students on protecting the environment and offer training on accessing the Tunza eco-generation platform. 2. Training of dedicated environmental bloggers for each school on reporting the environmental activities of their schools and communities weekly. Awards would be given to the best environmental bloggers over a number of months at a ceremony.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
We would be working with students in selected basic schools in Pretoria, South Africa. There is no participation from students in South Africa on the platform making South Africa underrepresented and I seek to change that through this program so as to imbibe environmental conservation in them at earlier stages. Schools in the rural parts have students with limited access to computers or internet familiarity whilst those in urban centres mostly have basic access. Both classes of students would be educated on this platform to make their access to internet services more useful.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
1. The Tunza UNEP-Samsung project team members are part of the team. This is a combined effort to get South African students interested in their environments ((http://tunza.eco-generation.org/TunzaEco.jsp).)
2. This project is also in collaboration with postgraduate students of the Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria. General student details can be found here: http://web.up.ac.za/default.asp?ipkCategoryID=8841&sub=1&parentid=265&subid=270&ipklookid=13
4. The leader of the team is Barbara Glover. The Facebook page I moderate can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/youthofghana/
3. The last group is the Rand Water Company limited ‘WaterWise’ campaign initiative. http://www.waterwise.co.za/site/home.html
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
The Tunza Eco-generation platform is a dynamic social networking platform offering a range of possibilities for engaging children, their chaperones, youth and sports organizations in order to advance their awareness, role and commitment in environmental conservation and protection. Students submit reports on environmental activities in their schools and communities to the World report section of the platform and are awarded points that can be used to attend Tunza environmental conferences and to become future ambassadors of the platform. There are six main categories in the environment that students can blog on:
4. Climate Change
6. Climate Change
8. Living Green
These ranges give students enough ideas on protecting the environment.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
The project has been discussed with the UNEP-Samsung Engineering platform managers and has been approved provided we can raise funds. School kits designed to educate children on the environment would be provided for free by Samsung as well as one prize for an environmental blogger. Contacts have also been made with the South African Rand Water ‘WaterWise’ program to join them on one outreach program to selected school provided we can fund our team. Arrangements are yet to be finalized in that regard.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
We anticipate that at least 50 students would be specially trained as environmental bloggers from at least ten selected schools in Pretoria. However, with the environmental outreaches, over 1000 students would be generally trained on how to access the Tunza eco-generation platform as part of the outreach program.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
As an ambassador on the platform, my experience in blogging my environmental protection activities; which earned me the ambassadorial position, would be employed in training the students. My team of postgraduate students from the University of Pretoria also has training in citizen media and writing up impactful articles for research journals and our experience in writing would be put to use in our outreaches. We have experts on various diseases caused by the mismanagement of our environment from various fields of science as postgraduate students in my faculty and we believe we can throw back information from our research fields into the community through these outreaches. These outreaches would also serve as career guidance and networking platforms for interested students.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
We plan to reach the students through their schools for the outreaches. Facilities in schools with computer laboratories would be used for a fee whilst we plan to use a low-cost laptop with modem facilities and a projector for schools without computers. The training program for environmental bloggers would be held at a computer laboratory in the university. The room has a projector and over 100 computers with internet connection that we can use for a fee. Each student would thus have access to a computer with internet access for the workshop.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
I am the ambassador for the Eco-generation platform for Southern Africa. I have an undergraduate degree in zoology and conservation science and I am an active blogger on the platform. As a postgraduate student who has lived in Pretoria for the past two years, I know much about Pretoria and have come in contact with students on regular basis at other environmental awareness platforms. I plan to actively engage with these environmental bloggers on regular basis and encourage their interests in protecting the environment as well as make available opportunities to attend conferences and training workshops offered to environmentalists. Future ambassadors on the platform would hopefully continue this project from where I started.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
Our main challenge now is funding. With approved funding, I can select the number of postgraduate students I want on my team, pay tariffs for the school kits Samsung is providing from Korea, pay to use the computer facilities in my university and begin the outreach programs in the schools. Without funding, the outreach program would come to a halt. No security concerns are expected
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
1. Environmental outreaches to the selected schools would create interests in environmental protection in students and make them more aware about what is going on currently in our environments. With increased participation by students in protecting the environment after the outreaches, we can call the outreaches a success.
2. The environmental blogging training would teach students how to use the internet for useful things like blogging about activities that protect our environment. Students would also get to network with other environmentalists their age on the platform. Such established connections would be marked as success.
3. After three months when the best bloggers are awarded, the quality of projects and blog entries received would be used to measure the success of the project.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
May 5th-August 30th – School outreaches to selected schools. We would give talks on various environmental issues to interested student gatherings after which we would select some students for our training sessions through an organised essay competition. Students would be given the rules for the competition as well as deadlines for participation.
September 1st – December 1st – Entries for an essay competition on the importance of citizen media on environmental protection opens. Winners would be selected for the training session.
7th January, 2015 – Training program for selected students on one of the properties of the Rand Water Company ‘WaterWise’ campaign team (arrangements are yet to be finalised).
1st February – 30th March, 2015 – Entries for the environmental blogging competition opens
13th April – Awards Ceremony for the best environmental bloggers and contributors to the Tunza eco-generation platform
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
1. Coordinator expenses for 5 coordinators – transport to schools for outreaches, training of students and organising the training sessions = $400
2. Evaluators of essays and blog entries = $200
3. Access to computer facilities for training program = $300
4. Prizes for winners of blog competition = $500
5. Transport of students and catering for training session = $200
6. Blog awards program (venue, catering) = $300
7. Miscellaneous = $100
8. 1 laptop + modem charges + hiring of a projector (for schools in rural areas without computers) = $300
10. Tariffs for school kits to be imported from Samsung Korea = $200
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
This is little representation of environmental bloggers among young people in Africa. I hope that the idea of this project would be promoted through this platform to encourage other students from other parts of Southern Africa to encourage environmental blogging among young people.
Barbara Akorfa Glover