With constant water shortages on the rise around the country, educating children about water is an essential step in ensuring water security for the future.
Jo Burgess, President of the Water Institute of South Africa (WISA), believes that schools and children represent one of the most effective means of transferring important messages.
In a comparison with water and sanitation education in Singapore, Burgess points out that education on the water and sanitation business, including water reuse and recycling, is integrated into the curriculum and transferred all the way through the children’s school career.
“The children continuously take messages home to their families and leave school knowledgeable about the water and sanitation business, being proud of the infrastructure they are responsible for as a community and with no hang-ups around issues such as “sanitation” or water recycling, which is unfortunately often the case in other countries, including South Africa,” she explains.
Burgess adds that if positive messages are transferred through learners at the grassroots level at schools through educational programmes then we can eliminate misconceptions and create greater awareness of the water business, whilst maximising water conservation and revenue management and encouraging sustainability of our resources and infrastructure.
The Water Wise Education team is one example of water education at work in South Africa. Water Wise, which is an environmental brand of Rand Water, travels to schools to disseminate conservation information through education and awareness campaigns.
Through the campaigns children are taught to identify water needs and issues and to discover their roles in protecting the world’s water resources.
Some of the methods Water Wise uses include hands-on activities, games, puppet shows, experiments and exhibitions. They also have classroom activities available for educators to download online.