“I was very surprised when they announced my name as one of the artists whose drawing was selected to be featured on the CSSL calendar. I feel very happy and proud!”, exclaimed Alie Aruna, a school pupil of the West Africa Methodist (W. A. M) Collegiate Secondary School, when his name was announced by Mariama Kargbo, Environmental Education Officer of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) during the school assembly on February 17, 2023. This was one of the visits conducted to schools in the Western Area Urban and Rural districts by Mariama and Abdul K. Dumbuya, CSSL`s Communications Officer, to publicly recognise the great artwork of the School Nature Club (SNC) members.
CSSL celebrated the 2022 Wildlife Week with the theme; “Why is the forest important to us“. To increase the knowledge of school children on the importance of the protection and conservation of forests, CSSL organised a drawing competition relating to the theme of the celebration. School children of CSSL´s SNCs were asked to use the theme for their respective artwork. The best were selected by a jury of conservation and communication professionals, and were all featured in the CSSL 2023 calendar.
To create more awareness for the work of CSSL and also acknowledge the efforts of the pupils, the calendars were distributed to the participating schools on behalf of the SNCs during their respective assembly sessions. This was as well done to further promote biodiversity consciousness among the young generation that would enable other children to be very active in their clubs and protect the environment. It was also a strategy to further strengthen the relationship between CSSL and the SNCs.
During the distribution in all the schools visited, Abdul and Mariama sensitized pupils on the importance of proper conservation, protection, and management of nature. They explained that a total of 104 entries from 26 SNCs were submitted for screening during the competition. They added that, the pupils did an outstanding performance by creating such wonderful drawings. “It was difficult for the evaluators to select only a small number for the calendar”, one the officials emphasized during an exclusive media interview.
The CSSL team encouraged the pupils that they were all winners even though 13 drawings came out very outstanding to have been featured on the calendar. The team encouraged other pupils to be very active in environmental work as they referred the pupils as ambassadors and future leaders of Sierra Leone.
Pupils of every school visited were very happy when they witnessed their colleagues receiving gifts and certificates for their participation, and seeing their drawings in a public calendar. This motivated some pupils to ask the Environmental Education Officer for CSSL to include them in their programs. They showed great interest and requested their SNC Teacher Coordinators to always inform them whenever they conduct their meetings and environmental activities.
After the assembly, the team from CSSL visited the various sites where the seedlings provided to the schools during the 2022 World Environment Day were planted. They were seen to be growing well and becoming little trees already.
“We are very happy to see the seedlings growing. It is a good opportunity for us to educate our children about the services of trees and forests. In the future, pupils and teachers will enjoy the shade and the fresh air provided by these trees during their lunch break.” Mr. Blakie, Principal of Huntingdon Junior Secondary School.
In most schools visited, the Principals requested for CSSL to help them with more seedlings as according to them, they were already experiencing some positive effects of trees on their school environment. It is indeed, a very good sign for CSSL to see that the trees were cared for very well, and the schools even would like to have more.
The CSSL team left the schools with a very good feeling! They witnessed the excitement and growing interest of the schools – pupils, teachers and principals – to get further involved in environmental education and conservation activities. When they left the compound of the W. A. M Collegiate Secondary School, Alie was waving at them with much happiness and pride, with his certificate in his hand.