Voyaging canoe culture added to curriculum

Work has begun to incorporate aspects of the traditional Samoan voyaging canoe (va’a) based culture and environmental education program into Samoa’s school curriculum.

Staff from the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) have started to formulate the “Learning for Guardians Va’a-based Environmental Education Campaign Phase Two” by hosting a workshop on Tuesday for the relevant stakeholders.

According to a media release issued by the Ministry, the “Va’a-based Environmental Education Campaign Phase Two – Guardians: Tausi lou Faasinomaga” is a traditional Samoan voyaging canoe-based culture and environmental education program.

It is a partnership initiative developing the voyaging canoe, the Gaualofa, as an education floating classroom, which engages communities directly as a means to bolster sustainable environmental management. The programme focuses on enhancing voyaging, stewardship and environmental literacy of coastal communities in the country through youth engagement and empowerment.

The workshop on Tuesday was built on this initiative and brought together representatives from M.E.S.C., Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Conservation International, Youth Climate Action Network, Samoa Conservation Society and Samoa Voyaging Society.

The objective of the workshop is to get input from partners to help guide the M.E.S.C teachers training workshops which will be held in the next few weeks, before implementation and rolling out into the communities.

The main aim of Phase 2 of Learning for Guardians Va’a-based Environmental Education Campaign is to mainstream and integrate the “fun hands-on” teaching approach into the Samoa national school curriculum. 

This work is made possible with the support of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation [U.N.E.S.C.O.] in partnership with the Japanese Fund in Trust, Education for Sustainable Development Program, M.E.S.C, Conservation International, and Samoa Voyaging Society [through the Civil Society Support Programme]. 

Through Phase 2 the current program of work aims to develop and refine learning resources, enhancing the current Guardians programme initially developed by Conservation International and its partners. 

There would also be the addition of more social science focused units, particularly in relation to aspects of world heritage and intangible heritage. The expectation is for Samoa to share these resources with other countries, leveraging partners to amplify and adapt resources and approaches to their own needs.

The newly formulated curriculum will target children in Year 7-8 ranging from ages eight to 10.

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