The Lapalala Wilderness School in Limpopo is a vision of what this country could be when run by committed people and transparent funding.
Without the hindrance of government bureaucracy, the school – brainchild of conservationists Clive Walker and Dave Parker – has been opening the eyes of schoolchildren and adults for more than 30 years, about the critical importance of caring for our fragile environment.
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Outreach programmes initiated in nearby communities by teachers and conservationists have seen local people being empowered to earn incomes through vegetable gardens, baking and beekeeping. School teachers, with assistance from the school, have seen their matric pass rates improve markedly.
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None of this would be possible without serious financial commitments from companies and individuals.
The Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF), for example, provides Ranger 4×4 bakkies which enable the outreach programmes to get to remote schools and villages. FWF also supports two dozen other environment and wildlife programmes across southern Africa.
As our state system struggles to deal with multiple challenges, what is happening at Lapalala shows that the private sector can play a vital role in not only repairing our damaged country, but in taking it to its deserved place as an African, and global, leading nation.