By Hilary Ewang Ngide, Centre for Community Regeneration and Development (Cameroon)
The expectations of winning the prestigious UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) got higher from the first day our nomination was confirmed and it brought with it satisfaction and a very high ambition to make every Cameroonian child, woman and youth understand the importance of embedding ESD in their daily life. It transited from expectations to very concrete plans when Centre for Community Regeneration and Development was finally named as one of the three Prize winners by the DG of UNESCO and the entire team started looking forward to the award ceremony in Paris hopping and to return to Cameroon with the award and new energy for the planning and implementation of ESD interventions across all regions progressively.
It ended in excitement when we finally managed to get to Paris where a very fantastic and carefully planned ceremony was organized during which we had time to experience UNESCO in its entirety. The side events provided an opportunity to exchange with other winners of the Prize and increase visibility of our interventions through UNESCO platforms and channels. Finally, on the 11th of October 2016, CCREAD-Cameroon received the award in the presence of Cameroon’s Permanent delegation to UNESCO and eventually received in audience by Cameroon’s Ambassador to France.
Returning with the award, the excitement and ambition is getting greater as different stakeholders such as WWF and other organizations are joining CCREAD-Cameroon to capitalize on the award while others approach our team daily for collaboration with the plans to meet with the Ministers of Secondary, Basic and Higher Education on course to present the award to them.
The quest is on, and CCREAD-Cameroon is already at work extending its ESD project to more schools in 2016: launched the first ever ESD focused essay competition for students with ESD prizes to be awarded to 25 students before the end of November 2016; 115 eco farms to be set up for community schools and for 98 schools to benefit from our integrated ESD activities in 2016 while more than 120 indigenous forest communities will be equipped with local community learning spaces for the promotion of ESD. The prize money is therefore being invested progressively to expand, consolidate and capitalize on these interventions. Having implemented ESD-related activities for the past six years, the winning of this prize has brought new orientation to the work of CCREAD-Cameroon and becoming a GAP partner on ESD starts a long term collaboration between CCREAD-Cameroon and UNESCO.