Eskom energy and sustainability programme

Eskom energy and sustainability programme

The Eskom energy and sustainability (E&S) programme is a partnership for environmental education by Eskom and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) and has been in existence for 12 years. It originally started as an environmental competition that was initiated by Eskom to encourage and support schools in environmental education as far back as 1975.

Through the programme, learners and educators are exposed to a broad range of environmental issues relating to energy and sustainability. Through support resource materials, as well as the WESSA regional coordinators, learners are empowered to research those issues specific to their local environment, and follow on with action towards environmental competence. The programme focuses on previously disadvantaged communities, and other minority groups, but is inclusive of all South Africans.

The programme has grown substantially and now boasts 155 projects nationwide and has proven itself by receiving numerous national and international accolades. Last year the programme’s Young people against climate change project won top honours in the youth category at the International Energy Globe Award.

The Eskom energy and sustainability programme (E&S) is a long-standing partnership programme for education for sustainable development between Eskom and the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).

In the reporting period, the programme supported 189 action-based projects with school learners and educators. Many of these projects becoming increasingly focuses on sustainability issues. Through the combined support of regional coordinator support to the educators as well as the provision of appropriate resource materials, learners are empowered to research those issues specific to their local environment, and follow on with action towards environmental competence. The programme has a focus on previously disadvantaged communities and other minority groups, but is still inclusive of all South Africans.

Active learning projects:

The support of active-learning energy and sustainability projects with young people in South Africa. Each of the projects is a stand-alone project and regional coordinators from the E&S programme support and assists educators with these projects.

Benefits of this section are that strong visibility is obtained though focused intervention of groups who are actively interested in the environment. This long-standing section of the programme has formed the strong foundation of credibility and standing which the programme enjoys, and from which all other new sections of the programme are launched.  

There are three intervention methods used by the programme.

These are:

  •  Active learning projects
  •  Provincial workshops (intervention with groups of educators at clustered schools)
  • Eskom strategic area schools (strong support with schools clustered near Eskom new-build project sites).

Demographic profile*

Children   Female   Male   Total  
Preschool   719   565   1 284  
Primary   67 102   61 940   129 042  
Secondary   9 013   8 659   17 672  
Sub-total   76 834   71 164   147 998  
Youths 18-24ys   953   992   1 945  
Sub-total   953   992   1 945  
Adults 25-65   -   -   -  
Educators   3 279   1 094   4 373  
Senior citizens 65+   -   -   -  
Sub-total   3 279   1 094   4 373  
Total   81 066   73 250   154 316  

* People with disabilities not identified in this programme

Demographic profile per province (excluding flagship and national programmes)

Gauteng   KwaZulu-  
Limpopo   Mpumalanga   Northern  
Preschool   54   250   -   935   45   -   -   -   -   1 284  
Primary school   5 156   44 813   43   35 124   4 078   27 709   -   -   12 119   129 042  
Secondary school   8 256   3 618   20   1 777   263   844   -   -   2 894   17 672  
Sub-total   13  466    48 681    63    37 836    4 386    28 553    -     15 013    147 998  
Out-of-school youths 16>24   51   -   -    503   25   1 278   -   -    88   1945  
Adults 24>64   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -  
Educators   41   1 741   8   984   157   1 024   -   -   418   4373  
Sub-total   92   1 741   8   1 487   182   2 302   -     506   6318  
Senior citizens 65+   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -    
Total   13 558   50 422   71   39 323   4 568   30 855   -     15 519   154 316  


Provincial overview

Eastern Cape

A total of 192 educators from 24 schools in the province attended workshops with 41 active educators from 20 schools each running a project involving 13 466 learners. Topics that were covered included water quality, recycling, urbanisation and spacial development, water security, green building (rural perspective), food security, and renewable energy/ specific wind energy opportunities, specific solar energy and climate change. This region initiated the first sustainability commons in rural Lady Frere as a response to addressing issues such as electricity supply, sanitation, and food security.

Eastern Cape schools      
Bulugha primary, East London     Mooiplaas primary, East London  
Byllets combined, East London     Mzoxolo junior primary, Mdantsane,   
Canzibe primary, Motherwell     Ndyebo high, Motherwell  
Clarendon school for girls, East London     Ngubani junior secondary, Motherwell   
Gobimamba primary, Lady Frere     Nkwezana primary, East London  
Indwe high, Indwe     Port St John’s junior secondary, Port St John’s  
Kleinbooi senior secondary, Lady Frere     Sinomonde primary, East London  
Londolozani junior primary, Mdantsane      Three Crowns junior secondary, Lady Frere  
Makhazi public school, East London     Victoria Park high, Port Elizabeth  
Mbewula primary, Lady Frere   Walmer high, Port Elizabeth  


Free State

During 2010, 180 educators from E&S participating schools attended workshop sessions in the Free State.

Workshop sessions were also presented during February 2010 to February 2011 to learners from St Andrew’s school in Welkom and nearly 250 learners attended sessions on global warming, carbon calculators, carbon footprint, electricity efficiency and electricity auditing.

During August and September 2010, five workshop sessions were presented in four of the five district municipalities in the Free State and 163 educators attended these sessions. Various other smaller sessions were held at different schools, mostly involving educators from the schools.


The Free State area is very well supported with a strong visibility at 63 schools, with 1 741 educators and 48 681 learners.

Aldam     Nthapelleng  
Balmacara farm school, Wepener     Ntheboheng primary, Botshabelo  
Bartimea>     Ntebohiseng intermediate, Phuthaditjhaba  
Bodikela primary, Bohlokong     Paballo preprimary, Allanridge  
Boliba primary, Bothaville     Petsana primary, Reitz  
Boshof secondary, Boshof     Poelano primary, Frankfort  
Botlehadi primary, Mangaung     Pontsheng primary, Botshabelo  
Clubview primary, Phuthaditjhaba     Popano secondary, Botshabelo  
Chris van Niekerk school, Vredefort     Phomello primary, Villiers  
Dibaseholo public, Koppies     President Steyn combined, Bloemfontein  
Ecco primary, Ventersburg     Rekgonne primary, Mangaung  
Excelsior combined, Excelsior     Saamwerk primary, Hertzogville  
Fakkel, Sasolburg     Samuel Johnson intermediate, Zastron  
Grey College primary, Bloemfontein     Sankatane intermediate, Botshabelo  
Impumelelo primary, Bohlokong     Seiphemo primary, Thaba Nchu  
Ipatleleng primary, Koppies     Seithati intermediate, Botshabelo  
Isaac Mahlambi primary, Zamdela     Sentinel primary, Phuthaditjhaba  
Itemoheng primary, Marquard     St Andrew's school, Welkom  
Jim Fouche primary, Bloemfontein     St Lawrence school, Jagersfontein  
Lehutso primary, Zamdela     Tabola primary, Witsieshoek  
Lepanya primary school, Phuthaditjhaba     Tataiso primary, Wesselsbron  
Letsibolo school, Phuthaditjhaba     Tataiso primary, Vredefort  
Mabewana primary, Phuthaditjhaba     Teboho primary, Phuthaditjhaba  
Machaea primary, Witsieshoek     Thabo Vuyo secondary, Rouxville  
Madikgetla primary, Trompsburg     Thatohatsi intermediate, Botshabelo  
Marobe primary, Odendaalsrus     Thuto-ke-Tsela primary, Frankfort  
Mahlabatheng primary, Viljoenskroon     Tiiserso primary, Phuthaditjhaba  
Marematlou primary, Virginia     Tjhaba-tshohle primary, Deneysville  
Meduwaneng primary, Frankfort     Tsatsi primary, Sasolburg  
Mehloding primary, Phuthaditjhaba     Tshomarelo primary, Dealesville  
Memel primary, Memel     Unicom primary, Tweespruit  
Namanyane primary, Thaba Nchu     Vredefort primary, Vredefort  
Nexus primary, Harrismith     Vulindlela primary, Vrede  


Four schools were involved in the programme running five projects with eight educators attending regional workshops on issues such as solar cookers, sustainable food gardens and biogas. Sixty three active learners were involved with these projects.

Bovet primary, Alexandra     Emfundisweni primary, Alexandra  
Carleton Jones high, Carletonville     Gordon primary, Alexandra  



A total of 26 schools representing 225 educators attended workshops where key environmental topics were used to support the national curriculum in the natural science learning area. These included topics in the energy and change; the life and living; the matter and materials and the earth and beyond series. These are the four main areas which educators use to orient their natural science learning; and the workshops are designed to support context in these areas, as well as integrate environmental learning at the same time.There were 29 active schools in the province with 37 projects, involving 592 educators and 29 607 learners. Ten schools from the areas surrounding the Ingula pumped storage scheme were involved in 12 projects. These schools are Besters combined, Driefontein primary, Driefontein high, Hamelberg combined and Zaaifontein (Ingula), as well as primary schools in the Drakensberg area: Impandwini, Insukangihlale, KwaMiya, Langkloof and Myendane, and these represent a further 392 educators and 8 732 learners.

Alencon primary, Durban     Parkview primary, Durban  
Ashley primary, Durban     Phelelani primary, Durban  
Bantuvukani primary, Durban     Protea secondary, Durban  
Crestview primary, Durban     Rossburgh high, Durban  
Danville girls high, Durban     Rustic Manor primary, Durban  
Ensingweni primary, Richards Bay     Sifisokuhle primary, Drakensberg  
Eqhweni primary, Estcourt     Sisizakele combined, Newcastle  
Gingindlovu primary, Richards Bay      South Coast Madrissa primary, Durban  
John Wesley, Eshowe     Summerfield primary School, Durban  
Keate Street primary, Ladysmith     Sunnyvale primary, Durban  
Merebank high, Durban     Umhlatuzana primary, Durban  
New Germany primary, Durban     Welbedene high, Durban  
Nizaam Road primary, Durban     Zakhele primary, Durban  
Ntendeka combined, Newcastle     Zithume high, Richards Bay  
Obanjeni Richards Bay     


Five schools from Lephalale were involved in the programme as it is within a new build site area where Medupi power station is under construction. The schools involved are Ditheku, Nelsonskop, Sedibeng, Yielelo primary and Phegelelo high school. Fifteen schools were represented at the workshops with 82 educators actively involved in projects with 854 learners. Key workshop topics covered included alternative energies, solar cooker designs and operation, electrical efficiency in the classroom, recycling and a fun solar cook-off competition organised jointly by the coordinator and the staff at the power station.


In Mpumalanga there were 20 schools actively involved in the programme, involving 332 educators and 8 523 learners.

In addition, there were 23 schools in the new build areas with 27 projects. In Witbank these schools are Jeremia Mdaka, Kromdraai, Makause, Nkonjane combined and Sibuko Sethu primary.

In Middelburg the schools are Eastdene combined, Eikeboom and Elusindisweni primary; and Sozama secondary. Steelpoort is represented by Kgahlanong secondary; Kgoboko primary; Malebe primary and Shopiane primary. Bonukukhanya, Mlamlamkunzi, Qalabocha, Vusimuzi.

In Balfour the following schools are supported through the programme. Amukulani primary; Amukelani primary; Khula Sakhile secondary; Mandi combined; Mlamlankunzi primary and Vusumuzi primary. In Standerton, Hlobisa primary; iGugulubasha combined; Lindilanga primary; Nyandeni primary; and Retsibile primary are supported through the programme.

Mpumalanga schools      
Amajuba, Volksrust     Sandzile primary, Nelspruit  
Charlestown high, Charlestown     Tenteleni primary, Nelspruit  
Clavis combined, Volksrust     Theu-theu primary, Volksrust  
Elangweni secondary, Volksrust     Tsembaletfu primary, Nelspruit  
Embonisweni primary, Nelspruit     Victory Life Christian Academy, Volksrust  
Inkhanyeti primary, Nelspruit     Volksrust high, Volksrust  
Khumbula high, Nelspruit     Volksrust primary School, Volksrust  
Khutsalani high, Nelspruit     Zizamelele primary, Volksrust  
Laerskool Pionier, Volksrust     Northern Cape   
Lungisani high, Nelspruit     Nil  
Phatfwa high, Nelspruit     North West   
Sakhile high, Nelspruit     Nil  


Western Cape

There were 18 schools with 21 projects actively involved in the programme with 418 educators and 15 013 learners. In addition, 15 schools that run 18 projects are from communities around new build sites: Atlantis – Bezelia primary, Proteus high, Reygersdal primary, Robinvale high and Vaaitjie Morawiese primary; and in Mossel Bay – Hillcrest secondary, Imekhaya primary, Indwe secondary, Isalathiso primary, Sao Bras secondary; and in Vredendal – Ebenhaeser primary, Maskam primary, Uitkyk primary, Vredendal senior secondary and Vredendal North primary.

Bay College high, Plettenberg Bay     Phakamisani primary, Plettenberg Bay  
Brackenhill primary, Knysna     Plettenberg Bay primary, Plettenberg Bay  
Coldstream  primary, Plettenberg Bay      Proteus secondary, Cape Town  
Greenwood independent, Plettenberg Bay      Qolweni youth enviro club, Plettenberg Bay  
Hornlee primary, Knysna     Robinvale high, Cape Town   
Indwe secondary, Mossel Bay      Sao Bras secondary, Mossel Bay  
Johan Hus primary, Storms River      Storms River primary, Storms River  
Levana primary, Lavender Hill     Wittedrift high, StormsRiver   
Murray high, Plettenberg Bay      Zerilda Park primary, Lavender Hill  


Energy and sustainability projects in communities around new build sites

The year 2010 marked the culmination of the first 3-year period of focused environmental education support around Eskom’s new build sites and this has been successful in many ways.

The 55 schools, many of them marginalised due to their rural location, have been able to benefit from the support given though the Eskom energy and sustainability programme. Initially, the schools did not demonstrate high levels of environmental knowledge. Therefore capacity to develop environmental projects at the school was not evident. The coordinators of the programme needed to start at grass roots by building capacity in environmental knowledge with educators, building relations between the programme coordinator and contact educators, assisting in curriculum development and the provision of content material, specifically in the learning areas, natural sciences and social sciences (geography). This has been on-going during these three years and the programme has undergone a stringent evaluation process to reflect on the impacts of the work of the E&S programme in these specific areas. The case study section of this report is an overview of the evaluative process and details some of the outcomes for the programme itself.

Lephalale Limpopo

Schools: 5
Projects: 5
Learners: 854 (only Grade 4 – 7)
Educators: 82 (full educator component)
Training: Support though portfolio of evidence – building up environmental capacity
Types of projects: These schools requested environmental support though school- garden projects


Schools: 23
Projects: 27
Learners: 21 099 (only Grade 4 – 7)
Educators: 632 (full educator component)
Training: Support through environmental curriculum alignment and active learning projects.
Types of projects:  These schools were involved in vegetable gardening, renewable energies and waste management projects.

Atlantis, Mossel Bay, Vredendal - Western Cape

Schools: 15
Projects: 18
Learners: 4 323 (only Grade 4 – 7, as well as Grade 8 – 9 in this section)
Educators: 324 (full educator component)
Training: Developing educators' capacity to develop lesson plans and facilitate more active lessons in class.
Types of projects:  Climate change projects (at high schools) School garden action and learning – sustainable livelihoods (at Vredendal)

Drakensberg, Ingula – KwaZulu-Natal

Schools: 10
Projects: 12
Learners: 2 925 (only Grade 4 – 7)
Educators:    142 (full educator component)
Training: Cluster-based workshops situated at Drakensberg and Ingula power stations as well as individual school support.
Types of projects:  At Ingula the schools have requested the development of school orchards – environmental capacity in this regard was given. At Drakensberg, educators were developing projects around set curriculum imperatives in natural science.

The evaluative process for the 55 strategic schools in the E&S programme

In 2010, the 55 schools in the Eskom strategic areas underwent a rigorous evaluation by Dr Roshan Galvaan and Ms Liesl Peters from the University of Cape Town.

The process specifically investigated the effect that the programme interventions have on the schools, the learners and the educators. Data was collected through interviews, focused groups, a limited document review and a survey. Coordinators delivering services, educators at the schools, and key role players in the programme were interviewed. The findings illustrated the complexities associated with the processes and procedures of delivering the programme, while highlighting successes and challenges. The report concluded with recommendations for programme improvement. Based on the outcome of this evaluation, it was concluded that the processes and procedures currently followed in strategic schools are sound.

The evaluation findings can be reflected under the following categories:

Processes and procedures

  • Supporting environmental learning, building relationships and encompassing the energy issue were seen as key in the processes and procedures at strategic schools
  • Monitoring changes: Monitoring the successes of the energy and sustainability programme occurred through a reporting system and through the recognition of its success in national and international competitions. In addition, the coordinators in the programme actively sought opportunities to publicise the contributions made by the programme and enabled through Eskom. Their view was that part of working for the energy and sustainability programme was to uncover some of the assumptions made about Eskom and provide positive views of the company.

Constraints that limited the potential achievements in strategic schools

  • The restrictions of the South African educational context. The shallow limits of the current educational context were highlighted as a major obstacle to the successful implementation of the programme. More specifically, operational and infrastructure at each of the strategic schools was found to be wanting.
  • The lack of support for educators from curriculum advisers in certain educational contexts was also highlighted. In these contexts coordinators felt that they were playing the role of the advisors. Although this was seen as being one of the strengths of the programme since it met the educators’ needs, coordinators cautioned that they needed to remain vigilant about their role as environmental educators for the energy and sustainability programme specifically.
  • Urgency of environmental issues: It was noted that the need to respond to current environmental issues is growing more urgent but that educators’ and young adults’ capacities to respond appropriately to these issues was limited.

Strengths and possibilities for development of the programme

  • Developing stronger links with the Department of Education
  • Creative and realistic strategies to overcome contextual obstacles: The need to consider contextually-based issues when designing opportunities for active learning was highlighted as being of fundamental importance. If this was not done it was shown to result in poor learning and uptake of environmental practices and approaches to energy efficiency.
  • Increased mentorship: The creative, unique approach that coordinators are required to use during their work on this programme has resulted in additional support needs. One way in which this need could be addressed would be to develop a mentoring programme for coordinators working in strategic schools. The national coordinator would be well-positioned to provide this mentorship, given her vast insight into the programme.
  • On-going monitoring: Besides reporting for record keeping purposes, it was identified that there were limited opportunities for systematic reflection on the operational processes of the programme. Opportunities for more structured reflection would assist in deepening the work being conducted especially since coordinators are expected to engage with the complexities of environmental projects and environmental learning opportunities.
  • Theoretical Constructs: Although coordinators spoke of the approaches they use to practice they rarely made explicit the underlying theoretical constructs they use to understand this practice. It was felt that, given the need to make expectations more evident at the outset for staff working on the programme, it would be helpful to put forth the theoretical substantiation for the approaches that are used in practice.


  • Diverse standards of measurement for the work done in strategic schools should be developed
  • Consider including a focus on adult education in addressing pressing environmental issues linked to sustainable living practices and energy generation and consumption in South Africa .
  • Develop a programme strand that involves communities, possibly young adults, in key sustainability issues.
  • Focus more specifically on the development of educators, rather than only on outputs.

Three Crowns junior secondary school, Lady Frere

Three Crowns junior secondary school is situated in the Lady Frere district of the Eastern Cape.

This very rural school services the surrounding community where there is a serious lack of services such as reticulated water, electricity and sanitation in many households. The programme supports a school-to-community empowerment project, which has established a showcase for alternative energy designs.

These designs are simple, effective and easy to replicate and built from any material readily available. However, the ideas of energy efficiency and alternative energies are concepts that mean little to those living in rural communities unless the benefits of such designs are demonstrated and, once demonstrated, are easily constructed and maintained to deliver a better quality of life.

The school is also well situated within the provincial Department of Education (DoE) and the district geographically. To this end, the DoE has used this project as a platform project for all schools in the district to be able to visit the school/community in order to learn about energy efficiencies and be able to replicate similar projects within their own schools. This has already been done and in phase 3 of the project. Another school, Klein Booi senior secondary, and the community have been incorporated into the project.

Phase 1 – Three Crowns secondary school develops sustainable energy models.

Together with educators and learners, the following working demonstration models were built at the school:

  • Greenhouse / shade-house nursery made from recycled plastic bottles
  •  Solar cooker
  • Two different models of solar water heater
  • Hot-box
  •  Bio-gas digester
  • Eco-circles, vermiculture and permaculture
  • Zee fridge

Reinforcing environmental learning

Educators developed lesson plans and units of work which detail construction of the models, sustainability of the energy supply, and environmental benefits for using the models.

District municipality officials, councillors and DoE officials visited the school to view projects. This led to a wide scale interest in the project and a strong partnership with government departments (national and local), and other interest groups was formed. It was this interest that grew the project, both in funding available to carry out the necessary ‘school to the community’ leap, as well as in the strong standing and credibility that the project now enjoys.

The sustainability commons at Three Crowns primary makes the leap from school to community.

Business incubators

Since the inception of corporate social investment in Eskom, one of its objectives was to capacitate small enterprises to enable them to develop, grow and compete in the formal economy.

The lack of management and business skills impacted negatively on the enterprises’ ability to grow and become sustainable and some had difficulty in accessing funding as their business models were flawed, which made enterprise development interventions not to be comprehensive and effective.

The Foundation’s aspiration was to make a significant and sustainable contribution to development and had to move on from this approach to a new model that included investment in flagship projects with substantial financial commitments, long-term relationships and clear exit strategies.

The business incubators were then incorporated into the Foundation grant making strategy; being a tried and tested model of the (SEDA) technology programme, with measurable key performance indicators and success stories; a and due to the need to have an integrated approach to ensure sustainable interventions to integrate lessons learnt from successful interventions.

Business incubators are the big brothers of start-up businesses and there are 26 models currently in South Africa under the SEDA technology programme (STP) banner. The service offering differs; however the most common form is to provide technical and administrative training, kick-start capital, inexpensive infrastructure (office space, administrative and IT services), which are shared by the participants in the incubator.

This was an opportunity for the Foundation to partner with STP on their incubator initiatives to reach and support small enterprises in the various sectors. The Foundation provides grants for equipment towards the incubators. The SEDA incubators vary in sector and the Foundation will be considering funding for those that are in line with its strategy; viz agriculture, manufacturing and services.