JNF –Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre
The JNF Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre (JNF WSEC) educates approximately 10,000 learners ` from 186 schools in and around Mamelodi area each year. In partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education, the JNF WSEC creates innovative environmental educational experiences and seeks to imbue a sense of accountability and environmental leadership in all its learners.
Schools book their visits well in advance for the coming year; however, do not have the funds to cover the costs of the travel, snacks and facilitators for their experience at the Centre.
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre in Mamelodi, Gauteng Province, South Africa is an environmental discovery centre that aims to develop community conservation champions for the environment. The objective is to develop awareness amongst the youth to inspire and motivate them to preserve and utilise the wealth of our natural heritage.
The JNF has been involved in developing green spaces and environmental education in Mamelodi since 1995, when we helped set up the Mamelodi Greening Committee (MGC) and opened Nelson Mandela Park, with this was followed by the development of the Mandela Park Peace Gardens to teach pensioners to grow and sell their own food. The MGC indicated that there was a need for an Environmental Education Centre. The JNF planned, raised and funded R 3.8 million for the development of the JNF Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre in Mamelodi. Today the centre educates 10 000 kids a year in environmental education from 186 schools in the greater Tshwane area.
About the Centre
The Centre demonstrates in practical and visible way actions that could be taken by South Africans that promote both development objectives and climate change mitigation. Interactive educational programs ensure that this is achieved in an entertaining and stimulating way.
The centre consists of an auditorium, administration office, computer room, water wise ablution facilities, and four environmental theme rooms focused on water, waste, biodiversity and energy with an outdoor “Living Classroom” garden.
The centre is situated behind Nelson Mandela Park, on the Western banks of the Moretele Spruit in Mamelodi and is a model of environmental best practice.
Aims of JNF-WSEC
- Supporting and Promoting the WWF Eco-Schools Program
- Encouraging learners and the community to use environmental resources in a sustainable way through environmental education programs.
- Involving every school in Mamelodi in environmental programs that include learners from early childhood development to those engaged in further education and training.
- Providing a venue for Further Education and Training.
There are four main themes rooms covering the environmental awareness areas of water, biodiversity, waste and energy. The educational content of the rooms has been developed so as to correlate to and support the National Curriculum Statements of the Department of Education; thereby enabling educators to utilise the centre to complement classroom learning areas. The Biodiversity room is linked to the outdoor “living classroom” garden which is a model of a school permaculture garden demonstrating: food production for school feeding, medicinal plants for primary health care, a small forest ecosystem, wetland and forest garden orchard.
The centre has also served as a job creation and empowerment opportunity for Mamelodi youth interested in the environment; to receive training as programs facilitators. They are then employed and paid as facilitators to host the visiting schools and take learners through the outcomes based activities associated with each learning area.
The centre also hosts a number of external education programs including the “Greening Mamelodi” initiative which uses community forestry techniques to help distribute and grow trees in the area. A total of 12 000 trees have now been planted in Mamelodi in the last fours years many which are now being grown in the centres very own community nursery.
A major focus of centre is to try and work in the schools themselves. For the reason the centre supports a number of school green clubs who also participate in a regional quiz and a school greening competition. The winners of the quiz go down to the national WESSA quiz in KZN and enjoy a visit to Ushaka marine world.
The center has won numerous awards including the Mail and Gaurdian’s “Greening the Future Award” in the education category and the runner-up in the Climate Change Leadership Award in the community category. The centre also has its national Greenflag status.