Environmental education in Samoa came alive this past week.
Year Seven and Eight students from four Aleipata District schools became the first Samoan youth to participate in the full Guardians Campaign programme.
The schools were Lalomanu, Vailoa, Ulutogia and Satitoa Primary Schools.
Building on the highly-successful Sa Moana Folauga pilot campaign last year, Conservation International Samoa has brought a strong network of partners together to augment the Va’a-based educational program to include a more comprehensive, interactive environmental education component in a new campaign “Tausi Lou Fa’asinomaga”.
Fun and interactive lessons and field trips emphasize empowering the youth of our communities with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to inspire environmentally sustainable behaviour.
Lessons were structured into five themes identified by communities, government and other partners during the initial May 2018 scoping workshop as priority issues for conservation in Samoa.
Students participated in small-group lessons followed by games and activities that consolidated the learning objectives, including trash relay races, investigative adventures to the mangroves, snorkeling on the reef at Vailoa, and boarding the ‘Gaualofa’, Samoa’s traditional voyaging canoe; by becoming Coral Champions, Wise Fishers, Tree Guardians, Trash Stars and Samoan Voyagers, graduates of the GUARDIANS program have the impetus to become Guardians of Samoa’s rich environment and cultural traditions.
The highly-interactive programme was delivered in equal partnership by the Guardians Team, which included members from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, National University of Samoa, the Samoa Conservation Society, Youth Climate Action Network, Samoa Voyaging Society, Conservation International Samoa, and the principles and teachers from primary schools in Aleipata district.
Guardians team members undertook a high-level training in July which they created and adapted the educational activities to the Samoan context.
During the Talanoa session hosted by the Guardians Team to gather community feedback after the program, positive responses from the community were recorded all round.
They recognized that the children are Samoa’s future, and thus the importance of teaching the children at a young age so that they grow up with an environmental ethic.
They were also supportive of the campaign because it serves as a wake up call or reminder to communities on understanding current environment issues and their own responsibility to take action. “At the end of the day we know we are responsible for the management of our natural resources” – a comment shared by Matai within the meeting.
The Guardians campaign is part of a two-year project implemented by CI in partnership with the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, looking to enhance the environmental literacy of targeted youth and communities.
The first phase of the campaign at Aleipata reached 81 students in the core program with an additional 200 participating in evening outreach event.
It will continue with the other four schools in Aleipata district this week and be rolling out to other districts in Samoa through 2018-2019.