A momentous step has been taken in unlocking greater academic progress in Botswana’s Northwest District, as Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Botswana has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Botswana’s Okavango Sub District Council to build parts of Eretsha Primary School. This comes as part of the “Better School Infrastructure for Better Education” initiative by CITW Botswana.
The mandate of CITW Botswana, as the non-profit entity established by Okavango Wilderness Safaris, is bedrocked upon working to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of children in Africa. This comes as an unwavering commitment to driving sustainable progress and impact for youth across Botswana, empowering the next generation of leaders and eco-warriors.
Through this partnership, CITW Botswana and the Okavango Sub District Council aim to create an enabling environment for learning and teaching so teachers and school administrators can perform efficiently and productively. Ultimately, this means working towards improving academic performance in schools such as Eretsha Primary for school children to excel in their academic performance and grow to reach their full potential. This is in line with the National Vision 2036 Pillar of Human and Social Development and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
The P1 million funding will cater for the construction of a block of two classrooms together with fittings and furniture; an ablution block for both girls and boys which comes with a reticulation water system within the school grounds; and fencing of the school premises. Building works are expected to be completed by the 1st quarter of 2023.
Okavango Sub-District Council Assistant Council Secretary, Losika Kula, explained at the signing ceremony that the two entities share a common mandate of uplifting and alleviating communities in Ngamiland from poverty. This builds further on the long-standing relationship which dates back to 1996 when Okavango Wilderness Safaris entered into a partnership with Okavango Community Trust (OCT). The OCT represents five villages of Seronga, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa.
“This is such a momentous moment which sees over a year and a half of planning and working to identify the best way forward with our long-term partners at the OCT. It is a symbol of our commitment to improve infrastructure at Eretsha Primary School and to support the community we are so privileged to call home. None of this would have been possible were it not for our partnership with OCT, the Okavango Sub District Council leadership, and Eretsha village Chief, Rre Mosenyegi who approached us after identifying the need, and we are tremendously grateful for this”, said Kim Nixon, MD of Okavango Wilderness Safaris.
Eretsha Primary School has over 200 students enrolled and was established in 2015 as a satellite school to shorten the distance pupils have to travel to access quality education. Prior to 2015, students would have to walk 10km to the nearest primary school at Beetsha. The school caters for standards 1 to 7 and was registered and declared a fully-fledged primary school in 2021. Thus, the need for infrastructure that now meets the demands of the school as it continues to grow is more necessary than ever before.
North West District Council Chairperson, Kebareeditse Ntsogotlho, speaking at the MoU signing, noted his appreciation for the partnership, saying that the children of Eretsha would enjoy access to basic enabling education infrastructure. He also thanked Okavango Wilderness Safaris and CITW Botswana for committing to exploring other potential areas of impact of a similar nature.
To date, Okavango Wilderness Safaris and CITW Botswana have seen little over 10 million pula invested in education initiatives in Botswana” in the last 15 years, including but not limited to annual eco-camps, as well as CITW programmes being implemented in eight schools in Botswana’s Northwest District, six schools in Bobirwa, at Tshwaragano Primary School in Old Naledi, Gaborone and at Parakarungu Primary School, the latter in partnership with FNB Foundation.