By teaching you learn, Following a river – Mkhomazi River, South Africa

23 April 2013 | News story

Learners travelled by non-motorised means the length of the 298km Mkhomazi River, from catchment to coast. They conducted environmental surveys en-route and water-related interactive lessons at schools.

The Mkhomazi Catchment to Coast Environmental Survey, Education and Expedition was conducted by students from Treverton Schools. The Mkhomazi River is a free flowing, 298km river which stretches from the Drakensberg to the Indian Ocean in the southern Kwa-Zulu Natal province in South Africa.

They conducted an environmental evaluation of the river and immediate surrounds as they moved down the river towards the sea. Included in the survey was a mini-SASS process. An important element of the expedition was the educational component. The students met with school learners from schools en-route, conducting curriculum-based interactive, participatory lessons on the water cycle and the importance of water conservation.

This experience was an incredible journey physically, emotionally and mentally. However, it has grown the students immensely and has left an impact with the school learners they met along the way.

Exurbs of the post-project report written by Mpumi Dlomo indicate how these learners learnt about themselves, their country and their environment.

Within this past week we've completed an expedition with many different aims, chief amongst them was raising water awareness. We tried enriching rural areas by touching the most active part of their society, the children, by educating them about water in an attempt to affect the longevity of our river system and the ecology therein. Our impacts on the ecosystem didn't stop there; however, we went on to test the Mkhomazi River, at several sites along our journey along the river's length.

The Expedition was truly awesome, many of the moments we’ve experienced are worthy of sharing but I will have to limit them, to just a few. I have yet to feel anything akin to the excitement of school children that are eager to learn. Many of us were truly astounded by their rushing energy and eager faces; a hunger for knowledge truly transcends all boundaries. My father used to tell me frequently that “Empty pockets have never stopped people from succeeding, only empty hearts and empty heads” I have seen this live now, now I am truly beginning to understand the profoundness of those words. …

The environmental portion of our trip was a success as well, the Mini-SASS and several other tests such as turbidity and dissolved oxygen were executed quickly and efficiently but all members of the team, and we were excited at the different make ups of the ecology within the river and the overall health of the river. Pollution is a problem and the river could still be ameliorated and better looked after, meaning better lives for the people living within its vicinity. Water is a truly invaluable resource and losing any body of water is a traumatic and tragic experience.

Oliver Momberg summed up the principle of “By teaching you learn” when he wrote: “This expedition has made me realise how truly blessed we are to be alive to see the beauty of this country and also showed all of us how much pollution is going into our ocean and how we as South Africans should really reconsider on how we treat our rivers.” 

Janet Snow
Environment Learning and Teaching
envirolearn@bundunet.com