‘Far’ schools once again at Augrabies Falls National Park

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Phokojwe
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:30 pm
Location: Johannesburg

‘Far’ schools once again at Augrabies Falls National Park

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Augrabies Falls National park was once again very fortunate to have received funding from the Virtual Honorary Rangers for the ‘Far Schools’ initiative. The Augrabies Falls National Park (AFNP) is a very unique park, as it has the mighty Orange River flowing through it, coupled with a 56m high waterfall, extremely interesting geology and a rich biodiversity. These features are very unique, especially in the arid Northern Cape. It should therefore form part of every local learner’s childhood experiences to at least be able to visit the Park to learn and experience these features.

During 2012, 77 learner’s and 8 Educators from four schools participated in this program. This year two schools were brought into the park for an overnight visit. The entire excursion was funded.

The first school was Francois Visser Ps from Pofadder about 150km from AFNP and they came to the park on 18-19 Feb 2015. In this group of 23, 13 of the learners and 1 adult had never been to the park before.

The second group came on 20-21 Feb and they were from the Witbank Primary school which is approximately 250km from the park, downstream next to the Orange river. This school and community of 269 people are so isolated that only the one taxi service was prepared to go and fetch them and bring them to the park. No other taxi services were prepared to travel all the way out to the Witbank community. The community only got electricity in 2012 and they receive water via tractors with water tanks. There is no cellphone reception, church, bank, fuel or clinic. They are about 100km from Pofadder and 200km from Springbok. There are only 44 learners in the multi-grade school and they have 3 teachers. Of this group of 21 only the teacher and 1 learner had been here before! About 8 of these learners were extremely excited as they had the privilege of swimming in a swimming pool for the first time in their lives whilst in the park!

There was so much excitement and joy and the learners enjoyed everything from the food to the tents (another first for almost all of them) and all the different activities. They eagerly participated and did not want to go home on the second day. ‘Save our frogs’ day was also celebrated with the two groups and part of this activity included folding an origami jumping frog and then having frog races. The two teachers and the taxi drivers were also very impressed and thoroughly enjoyed the excursion and all the information. For most of these children it was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity.

On behalf of these two schools, I would like to express my deepest gratitude towards all who have contributed and made these visits possible for these two schools. A visit to a National Park is often taken for granted but these learners and teachers will probably remember this visit for the rest of their lives.

Christine du Plessis
People & Conservation Officer
Augrabies Falls National Park


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