Agency is key to addressing the many challenges confronting youth in the SADC region. Young people need space to design and share best practices for addressing climate change challenges.
Realising this, FutureLife-Now! schools in Malawi’s Lilongwe district held a climate change jamboree on 6 May 2022 at Chinsapo Secondary School. The event brought together school-going youth and provided the opportunity to share knowledge and hold exhibitions.
The participating schools included Chinsapo Secondary School, Mbinzi Community Day Secondary School, Ngowe Community Day Secondary School and Bwaila Secondary School. With the theme of “Young People Against Climate Change”, the event aimed to empower young people to make decisions and take action towards addressing the problems created by climate change. The jamboree was attended by 150 learners and 10 teachers from all four schools. Clement Makuwa from the National Youth Network on Climate Change (NYNCC) was the guest of honour.
A wide range of activities was on offer. A panel discussion on the importance of youth agency in tackling climate change took place; some learners took part in a drama titled, ‘’People’s Ignorance on Climate Change Causes”; other learners sang songs, recited poems, and shared learner-led climate change projects. Learners also shared climate change best practices from their schools. “All of this proved that youth agency is a powerful weapon to save the world from the ugly jaws of climate change,” said Croxley Nkhoma, Malawi’s FutureLife-Now! country manager.
Climate change activities being implemented at the schools include tree planting and caring at Madisi, Chinsapo and Linthipe Secondary Schools; compost manure making at Bwaila Secondary School, Natola and Mbinzi Community Day Secondary Schools; briquettes making at Dowa Secondary School and Mponela Community Day Secondary School; paper recycling at Ngowe Community Day Secondary School; seedling production by Umbwi Secondary School; and school gardens at all 10 FutureLife-Now! schools.
‘’Through our paper making project, we have turned wastepaper into a resource,” said Form 3 learner Ameera Issat, from Ngowe Community Day Secondary School. “We collect used paper and recycle it into toilet tissue which we use at our school. Our school environment looks tidy as there is no littering of wastepaper. We are currently exploring markets for our products, a development which will help our school to generate funds from the sales of the toilet paper.”
Arthur Nkhwazi, a learner from Mbinzi Secondary School, was motivated to act. “This jamboree is an eye opener. We have shared best practices as well as widening our knowledge in the fight against climate change. We will replicate some of these interventions at Mbinzi Community Day Secondary School.”
Pascal Chitundu, headmaster of Chinsapo Secondary School which hosted the event, thanked the programme for empowering learners. ‘’The FutureLife-Now! programme has greatly empowered our schools to be resilient to climate change. We have planted fruit and non-fruit trees. We have started a school garden and our learners are actively involved in climate change activities.”
The jamboree was a success as learners shared with each other the various climate change best practices, which they can replicate in their schools. It has been agreed that the event will be conducted annually.