School children demand inclusion of environmental education in South Sudan curriculum

Pupils from different schools march towards Fr. Saturlino Mausoleum to petition government over climate change Friday, January 22, 2021 [Photo: Radio Tamazuj]

School children in South Sudan’s Torit Municipality of Eastern Equatoria State have petitioned the government demanding that the Ministry of General Education and Instruction includes environmental education in the school curriculum for primary and secondary schools, reports Radio Tamazuj.

According to them, environmental education will increase awareness about climate change and environmental issues and their roles as actors of change for a clean and safe environment in the country. 

The petition was read last Friday, January 22, 2021 at the Fr Saturlino Ohure Mausoleum during the commemoration of World Children’s Day 2020 under the theme “A safe environment for a better future.” 

Every year, UNICEF organises World Children’s Day on November 20 to celebrate the adoption by the United Nations of the conventions on the rights of a child. The day supports the engagement of children as advocates of their rights. The remembrance of the day was postponed to this year in Eastern Equatoria State.

Reading a three-page petition on behalf of school children, Esther Amama Pinah, a Primary 8 pupil at Our Lady of Holy Rosary in Torit town, urged the state government and communities to ensure the protection of natural resources including forests and wildlife.

“The government of South Sudan should implement the environmental engagement it took including the planting of 100 million trees over ten years 2020-2030 to fight deforestation. The children of Eastern Equatoria State raise their voices on the impact of climate change and environmental issues and to be actors of change for a green and a clean environment,” she read. 

Amama said the population should use charcoal responsibly by avoiding cutting trees and reducing air pollution because children are the least responsible for climate change yet they bear the greatest burden of its impact.

The mayor of Torit Municipal Council, Joseph Aye Oswaha, pledged to keep Torit town green by planting trees along all streets urging families to plant trees at household levels, especially mango trees, in their compounds for the benefit of children.

“Let us plant trees. I thought of planting mangoes. At least every home should plant two mango trees, plant guava and lemon also. I also have my roads here, instead of planting neem trees which are not eaten,” said Mr Oswaha.

Adding: “I think we need mango trees along all the streets and this is what we are going to work on together with you. You will collect the seedlings from Kinetye River and you plant while praying to God to bless it. In 7 years you will be enjoying the mangoes.”

The UNICEF field officer in Eastern Equatoria State, Bernard Mikelele Ofuho, advised the citizens to sustain the environment to save the future of children. He said the UN is committed to ensuring trees are sustained across all schools in the state.

“Ninety percent of our lives in South Sudan depends on nature. We have agriculture, fisheries, wildlife all these. If we don’t sustain them responsibly, then we have a doomed future. If there is a crisis in the climate then definitely there is going to be a crisis in the life of children knowing very well that the population of this country constitutes 65 percent both children and youth. And if we don’t sustain the environment that we live in responsibly, then we are destroying the future of the children,” Mr Mikelele said. 

Mr Emmanuel Ochiti Ottafiano, the acting governor, said the government is committed to ensuring children live in a safe environment and instructed the public to plant six trees for each felled tree. 

“The state government is in agreement and is looking forward to seeing that the children of this state live in a safe environment for a better future. As for a clean and green environment that our children are advocating for, the directorate of forestry for some years now has made a campaign for ‘cut one, plant two’ and later on we said ‘cut one, plant six’,” the acting governor said. 

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