At the outset of the project, the University of Botswana (UB) identified Molepolole College of Education (MCE) as a potential collaborator. UB consulted with the Ministry of Education through the Department of Teacher Education. They next approached college management at MCE, who accepted the idea.
MCE staff and students formed a multidisciplinary committee to develop a project proposal and budget. Along with MCE staff, the committee participated in workshops supported by UB and WESSA. They also conducted a curriculum audit to identify opportunities for infusing environment and sustainability topics and practices. The committee developed a teaching manual for MCE’s lecturers, which was first introduced to the college management team (e.g., heads of academic departments) and major stakeholders (e.g., the Student Representative Council). The committee set a target that 10% of final year student research projects would relate to environmental education topics.
Funding from USAID and WESSA supported several initial environmental projects on-site at MCE, known as the sustainability commons, which included the installation of a manmade wetland, a rainwater harvesting system, and the planting of indigenous plant species that were better suited for the region’s harsh climate. These projects were envisioned as new environmental learning resources that could support student-developed investigations. Further, they were a means conserving resources and decreasing the MCE’s operations costs by reducing watering needs, while also increasing biodiversity and improving the aesthetic appearance of the college.
Future plans include the extension of the wetland and additional plantings of local trees and shrubs that can become additional resources for teaching, learning, and on-site research. Water for the trees and other plants would be harvested from building roofs into tanks, and used when necessary. The wetland would be recharged through the grey water system using natural filtration. The site would be used for teaching subjects such as biology within the college, reducing the need to take student teachers off-campus for outdoor experiential learning and research opportunities.