The project, completed by The Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS), was instrumental in bringing together more than 340 education actors including teachers, students, and parents as well as district education partners and Rwanda Basic Education board. It sought to identify gaps and limiting factors impeding the achievement of SDG 4 and SDG 13, and in co-creating and testing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) solutions, to address the identified gaps. A methodological framework was developed, detailing the process of data collection and co-creation of ESD solutions. This framework was incorporated in the paper on the team’s experience in using co-creative research methods in the context of Rwandan Eco-Schools. A research questionnaire was designed, tested, and used on cobo-collect app. Along the process of testing co-created solutions, we have created a video highlighting perception of parents, teachers and students on participation in the TESF project and this is being used to produce a paper of our experiences in using co-creative research methods in the context of Rwandan Eco-Schools.
Inappropriate management of waste materials was identified as the major limiting factor followed by the dependance of schools on firewood for cooking, but also there is a limited awareness and training on how to address challenges brought by climate change. In most of the participating schools, a lack of specialisation in environment and geography studies was raised as an issue linked to limited integration of practical climate actions in lesson planning and the teaching and learning process. All participating schools confirmed this as above 80% and therefore it was ranked as a very serious limiting factor.
Co-created and tested ESD solutions included the initiation and operationalisation of a Green Learning Zone, a relatively small area of the school grounds reserved to apply small climate resilient actions – including seedling development and planting, waste treatment and management, kitchen gardens and small livestock farming with the target to create opportunities for entrepreneurship and outdoor learning. The language barrier and high dropout rate was among the major limiting factors impeding the achievement of SDG 4 but also, high student-teacher ratio and students’ indiscipline were highlighted.
Harvested legumes from the kitchen gardens are contributing to the school feeding programme and some students have already started to replicate the practices at home together with parents. There has been creation and operationalisation of eco-committees for the new schools that participated in this TESF project, and these committees were very instrumental because students could sit together with parents and teachers to identify the real problems their schools are facing.