Guardians dock in Falealili

The crew of the Gaualofa - a traditional canoe-floating classroom - is in Falealili for the whole of this week to implement the Guardians Vaa-based Environmental Education Campaign to district primary schools. 

The crew was last in the Lefaga district from 28 September to 2 October and had spent the past few weeks with the youth of Safata. 

The two-year campaign aims to raise the efficacy of resource management in Samoa by raising the public's understanding of key environmental issues and the steps they can take to address them.

The Gaualofa docks at selected sites around the country to deliver presentations on environmental issues with local children and young people from different communities.

According to a media release by the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, the campaign has had a lasting effect on both the students and teachers of the district. 

Six primary schools in the district took part in the four-day hands-on education program. These primary schools included Salamumu, Matautu, Safaato'a, Savaia, Faleaseela and Saanapu. 

Interactive environmental education modules addressed topics that are most important to our societies for healthy living in the light of climate change. It targeted the school communities of Mulivai, Tafitoala, Vaie’e, Lotofaga, Sataoa, Sa’anapu, Fusi, and Samamumu. 

The five modules taught in these community visits included: Wise Fishers  (covering different aspects; life cycles; and food chains of marine life, Samoan Voyagers (which promotes learning about Samoa's voyaging history) and lessons on why Samoa has been known as the heart of Polynesia and how seas were traditionally navigated and traversed the open seas.

The syllabus also covers Coral Champions, which is dedicated to teaching students about coral biology and the many roles of our coral reefs; Tree Guardians, which covers the need to protect trees and mangroves; and Trash Star – lessons on how destructive different types of rubbish can be to our environment, and what we can do about it. 

The Guardians team has employed various unique interactive and hands-on teaching methods to increase students' understanding of environmental principles. 

Students went snorkelling to identify live and dead coral, exploring the Gaualofa – and learning how to sail; explore biodiversity in the mangroves; and partake in various environmental games and songs. All lessons are taught in relation to climate change and provide practical tips to build our community resilience. 

According to M.E.S.C, the primary aim of the campaign is to improve the environmental awareness of Samoan populations by educating their children.

This is achieved by using Samoa's traditional canoe tour, the Gaualofa, as a floating classroom platform to relay these messages and remind our youth of Samoa's proud heritage of travel in the region, and how wise environmental 'guardians' and stewardesses our ancestors have been to survive and grow regionally for many millennia. 

This program and its incorporation into the Samoan National Curriculum will include a significant training and outreach aspect of the Samoa National Ocean Policy, which has been initiated and implemented by the government to ensure proper conservation and sustainability of our natural resources in Samoa.

The campaign is led by Conservation International in close collaboration with the Samoa Voyaging Society and Samoan Government Ministries, including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Youth Climate Action Network Samoa, Samoa Conservation Society, National University of Samoa, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

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