The success and value of non-formal education for sustainable development : the case of children in the Wilderness Eco-Club Programme in the Zambezi region, Southern Africa : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Environmental Management at Massey University, New Zealand
Education for sustainable development (ESD) has emerged strongly in recent years to become a
key mechanism for moving towards a more sustainable future. The aim of this study is to gauge
the success and value of non-formal ESD using a case study approach. Children in the Wilderness
(CITW), a subsidiary organisation of ecotourism operator Wilderness Safaris, offers an
extracurricular ESD programme for primary school children, and their Zambezi Region operation
was selected as the case study site. A qualitative research approach was taken for this study,
employing data collection methods such as interviews, focus groups, observation, and the
examination of national policy documents and the CITW eco-club curriculum.
The CITW eco-club programme responds to UNESCO’s (2005) characteristics for ESD, particularly
regarding the establishment of relationships with the wider community, and a multi-method,
learner-centred approach to teaching. While the national governments in Zambia and
Zimbabwe aim to respond more strongly to UNESCO’s characteristics, they are constrained by
limited human and financial capital resources. The eco-club programme, however,
complements the formal sector by providing teacher training and resources, demonstrating the
value of the programme in providing students with a more enriching learning experience.
This study concludes that the non-formal education sector provides significant support to the
formal education system, leading to improved vertical integration between international
guidelines and implementation at a local level. The eco-club programme enables CITW to
achieve its aim and vision by focusing on prevalent issues such as poverty, deforestation,
poaching, and pollution. While the scope of the research and the limited time spent in the field
did not allow for a detailed examination of the eco-club programme’s influence on proenvironmental
behaviour, it became clear that some pro-environmental behaviour has occurred
as a result of the programme.