The setting up of environmental corners in primary schools was made possible with the collaboration of the Rotary Club of Port-Louis Citadelle: Environmental corners have been set up in 5 ZEP schools in the North Port-Louis Region and 39 schools in the North, including 4 Adolescent Non-Formal Education Network (ANFEN) schools in the North with the help of Reef Conservation (Mauritius).
The environmental corner consists of a corner in the garden dedicated to endemic and indigenous plants and a corner in a classroom with a dry aquarium and posters on the marine environment. Teacher workshops are carried out with teachers to train them on the use of the material, on marine ecology principles and on guidelines on how to implement the environmental corners project. Regular site visits are carried out by the NGO and Rotary Club of Port-Louis Citadelle representatives, and are complemented by sessions on terrestrial and marine biodiversity, on water and composting. Various hands-on activities are carried out such as planting, painting marine creatures on murals, school exhibits on World Environment Day and beach clean ups. Field trips are carried out to various sites around Mauritius such as the Blue Bay Marine Park or Poste Lafayette and Trou-aux-Biches public beaches. Field trips can now be carried out at the Pereybere Beach Resource Centre with many resources on the environment including games and interactive activities already in place.
Feedback from teachers and children for this project, particularly for the environmental corners component, has been very positive. Absenteeism was reduced on the days that environmental clubs were active. The environmental corners project was seen as a means to complement what was learned in science, history and geography classes, but also as a means to improve English using the materials donated. More importantly, the activities in connection with the environmental club were viewed as a way to enhance the personal development of the child. There has been a growing demand from other schools to set up this project in each respective school.
Activity 1: World Environment Day
There will be a competition, under the aegis of the Rotary Club of Port Louis-Citadelle, among all schools for a World Environment Day event. The NGO staff will support the schools during the school visits in preparation of the competition. An independent jury will constituted with a member of the Rotary Club of Port Louis-Citadelle as president.
Activity 2: Field Trips
Field trips are an essential component of this project as they complement the theoretical framework and are an added-value to the environmental club’s activities. Students are invited to come to the Beach Resource Centre at Pereybere Public Beach to conduct glass-bottom boat trips. They will also discover the marine life through the use of a ‘touch-tank’ whereby marine animals are collected the morning of the trip and released after the students’ visits and will use the resources at the Centre to learn more about marine life. Interactive games and activities are also planned.
Environmental protection and restoration has little impact without an associated sensitization and education component which targets the general public and schools, making them aware of the importance of the issues and their role in how to resolve some of the problems. Without this component all conservation work will be carried out in vain! The integration of marine sciences in the curriculum and the setting up of environmental corners will ensure that students and youth gain stewardship of the marine environment and pass this knowledge to future generations, ensuring a more sustainable use of our resources for an island nation so dependent on the marine environment.