Maun — Wilderness Safari Company through its initiative, Children in the Wilderness’ (CITW) in partnership with Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) continues to afford learners from rural areas an oppportunity to bridge the gap between lower schools and tertiary education so that they established their careers.
CITW is a non-profit making organisation supported by Wilderness Safaris.
It is an environmental and life skills educational programme that focuses on the next generation of rural decision makers, developing environmental leaders who are inspired to care for their natural heritage so that they become the custodians of these areas in the future.
The initiative which aims to alleviate unemployment, offers introduction to conservation and environmental education to learners.
The CITW programme currently operates in six countries: Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In Botswana, the programme began in 2001 and currently about five students benefited from the programme and one is employed with Wilderness Safaris while three are being trained as CITW Eco-Club Coordinators who would be based in their villages.
According to a press release from the company, the partnership between CITW and SAWC began in 2016 with the objective of helping learners from rural areas who have completed their studies to build on their environmental education so they can increase their chances of employment or further their studies in the relevant environmental conservation space.
Each year, CITW works together with SAWC to select a group of deserving students from the CITW Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) programme who would participate in the course.
By the end of 2017, CITW had run camp programmes for over 7 000 children and 400 teachers, with more than 3 300 children and 170 teachers participating in 67 Eco-Clubs and 480 children in its scholarship programme.
Over 600 teachers and mentors have been trained under the CITW Eco-Club programme.
CITW programme manager, Ms Janet Wilkinson said they were honoured to be able to afford the students an opportunity to bridge the gap between school and tertiary education as this would help them establish their careers.
She indicated that for the students who showed a genuine interest in environmental issues, they provided them with opportunities to aid their progress in developing their careers and finding gainful employment.
Through such initiatives, she said many of their students had now been placed within various nature reserves and conservation organisations.
Wilderness Safari remains dedicated to pioneering authentic and sustainable ecotourism in the country whilst empowering local communities and at the same time playing a meaningful role in the biodiversity protection of its pristine wilderness areas.
The company has employed 1 079 of which 1 039 are local citizens.
It also directly supports the following communities through high-end ecotourism; Okavango Community Trust, Seronga, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa; Sankoyo; Habu, Tubu, Chobe Dry and Fresh Fish Association.
Wilderness indirectly supports another three communities; Mabele, Sexaxa and Shashe wards in Maun.