Our children are growing up in a world that is experiencing rapid biodiversity loss. Therefore, environmental education plays a crucial role in their learning. It teaches them to be conscious citizens, develops values and attitudes that help rather than damage nature, and equips and empowers them to help save biodiversity.
Environmental education is a crucial part of learning
We can teach kids about the environment in a variety of ways. The first step, however, is to ensure that children have a connection with nature. This helps them understand how nature is interconnected and how their actions can influence it.
Nature Seychelles has been running the LEAP Junior Clubs at the Port Glaud Primary School and the Anse Boileau Secondary School. The clubs are part of the Locally Empowered Area Protection (LEAP) Project and are intended to teach kids about the importance of biodiversity found in the nearby marine national parks and how to protect it.
It equips and empowers them to help save biodiversity
Since its launch in 2020, the primary school club has conducted indoor classroom and outdoor sessions, where kids have learned about marine animals, mangroves, coral reefs, and other biodiversity found in parks, as well as participated in beach clean-ups, seagrass identification, snorkelling, and whale shark model building. Activities have just begun in the secondary school club, which was recently established.
A club meeting was held on Tuesday to review what the kids had learned and provide feedback. This is a valuable tool for Nature Seychelles in gauging the impact of their clubs.
"What you notice right away is their eagerness to learn about nature," says Corinne Julie, the LEAP Project coordinator. "They're extremely engaged and want to keep doing more activities. We have had kids who never missed sessions, as it is fun, and they enjoy exploring and asking questions. They learn by observing and doing. It provides first-hand and practical experiences."
They can understand the impact of littering
"In addition, we have seen how students can narrow down their interests. We have one boy who is fascinated by sharks and he talks about that all the time. We had other kids who participated in beach clean-ups who now understand the impact of littering and compared how different beaches are faring under the onslaught of the trash we generate."
"Third, we observed how the knowledge we planted germinated and is shared with others. These kids are also members of other clubs, and they talk to their parents and peers."
"It's also eye-opening for them. They understand that they can have lifelong careers connected to nature; they say I am planning to attend the maritime school or I want to become a marine biologist."
The children learn about biodiversity found in the nearby marine national parks
Our experience running these clubs alongside the schools and teachers has strengthened our belief at Nature Seychelles that environmental education is essential to protecting our islands' natural beauty. The more they know about the environment, the more likely they are to protect it.
You can teach about nature through child-centred, activity-oriented, hands-on experiences such as beach cleans. Or by using case studies of environmental issues and role-playing scenarios showing problems and how to solve them. It can be through field trips that bring them directly to nature or through books, movies and documentaries.