Nature Rwanda, a local conservation organisation, has urged schools to include study tours in the learning programme. This, they say, will give students the opportunity to observe many things in wildlife that are not available at school, and strengthen their education as they will get to see what they learn in theory.
The call was made during a tour of Busaga Natural Forest, Southern Province, organised by Nature Rwanda with students from ES Rwahi, Rulindo District.
The forest has an estimated area of 151 ha, at an elevation of 1900-2000m. It is home to many animals, birds, insects, reptiles and tree species.
Anuarite Niyigena, an O Level student, says that she has a passion for tourism and that once she completes her studies, she wants to work in the tourism sector. It was her first time to visit a natural forest and she says that what she saw was remarkable.
“During the trip to Busaga, I got to see some animals, birds and plants that I learned about in books; I always wondered what they looked like and now, I’m happy that I got to see them. I think that if I came across a question about them during an exam, I’d be in a better position to respond correctly than someone who hasn’t seen them”, she says.
Regis Kwizera, a senior five student at ESI Rwahi passionate about construction, says that normally, constructors deal with nature during structure activities and so they have a role to play in deforestation.
“Because of this visit, I started thinking more about how to be an eco-friendly engineer and come up with alternative models that do not bring any harm to nature and the environment in general,” he says.
Marie Jeanne Uwimana, the head teacher of ESI Rwahi, is grateful that some of her students got the experience. She believes that it will have a great impact on their future learning outcomes.
Prudence Ndabasanze, the executive director of Nature Rwanda, says that while study tours offer a fun break from the school compound norm, they also provide many educational and health benefits.
“Exposure to nature benefits students mentally, physically, and socially through experiential learning. It also broadens their critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Ndabasanze explains that during such trips, students are taken though different individual and group exercises which increases engagement levels of students.
“When they have first-hand involvement in solving a problem or executing an activity, they’re more likely to take ownership of the situation. I believe that when more schools understand this, the country will get good decision makers in areas of environmental conservation and beyond,” he says.
He urges schools to include at least one study tour a year within the curriculum. He says that with proper planning with parents, it can be affordable.