The Midlands Meander Association (MMA) has represented the interests of members of the Midlands Meander, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa, for 25 years. The route stretches either side of the N3 from Hilton in the south, to Hidcote, north of Mooi River, eastwards to include Karkloof, Curry’s Post and Mount West and westwards to include Dargle, Fort Nottingham, Loteni, Kamberg and Giant’s Castle.
The MMA recognises that for the continued success of the route it is important to protect the natural environment, to assist communities through skills training and education, to encourage entrepreneurship, and to instill pride in the area among all sectors of the community. In 2003 the Midlands Meander Association Education Project was launched as one of the Social and Environmental initiatives of the MMA.
The Midlands Meander Education Project (MMAEP) focuses on supporting, in various ways, schools within the geographical area covered by the Midlands Meander.
MMAEP MISSION: aim to increase awareness of the importance of caring for the natural environment among all sectors of the community in the Midlands Meander area. Focusing on local schools, it assists teachers to integrate environmental education into the teaching curriculum, with emphasis on wise resource use, creativity, sustainable living and community building.
Over the years, 20 schools have been involved in the MMAEP programme. Over 3200 learners attend schools currently involved in the programme. Our main focus is on educator support through co-teaching in a wide range of areas with a special focus on environmental education. During the past few years, major partner, N3TC has provided significant sponsorship to expand the programme to assist local educators to incorporate these learning areas into the curriculum.
The MMAEP fieldworkers spend a series of set dates in each school co-teaching creative, interactive lessons. Often outdoors or in a re-arranged classroom the MMAEP fieldworkers add an exciting new dimension to learning. The MMAEP believes that continual support from an enthusiastic fieldworker and the relationship that this creates can be more effective than providing just materials which may not be used.
To introduce a little Midlands Magic to the programme, MMAEP field-workers have metamorphosed into colourful “bug” mascots - Gugu the Grasshopper, Icimbi the Caterpillar, Busi the Bookworm, Sizakele the Spider, Masechaba the May-Fly and Charles the Chameleon.
In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint the Bugs also try to travel in ‘lighter’ ways to the school, lift sharing, cycling, motorbike, taxi and even by horse! In this way they ‘walk their talk’ and inspire discussions and ideas on current environmental topics.