Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Friday, June 12, 2009

Environmental Education For Shimoni School Kids

These last few weeks have seen an exciting new development for GVI’s forest team here in Kenya. For one day a week we’ve decided to swap our boots and compasses for chalk and lesson plans!

Over the last few months, GVI has started working more and more with the Shimoni Base Academy, a new school tucked away in Shimoni village. It is part funded by private donations, which allows the fees for children from poorer families to be subsidised. One thing that shocked us was the revelation that the children at Base Academy were not being taught science at school. It seemed like such a shame that these children were living right on the edge of one of the most important habitats for biodiversity and endemism in the world – Shimoni’s Coastal Forest.

And as we are conducting research in the forest, and know it rather well, we thought that dedicating an hour a week to environmental education based around the forest they live next to, could have a massive impact on the children and in turn could help to protect the forest in the future.

We spoke to a few of the children and discovered they knew very little about the forest, and didn’t even know what animals lived there. So we created a short-term syllabus to kick things off, starting with a basic introduction to forests in general, and the important roles they play in things such as the water cycle and preventing soil erosion.

We then led onto why Shimoni Forest in particular was so important, touching on its role as a international biodiversity hotspot, how it protects the in-shore coral reefs and its capacity as a vital natural resource.

After that we moved onto the animals of Shimoni forest (the lesson we think they enjoyed the most!) including the threatened population of the sub-species of Angolan black and white colobus, and the rare Zanj elephant shrew.

The lesson planned for this week will be based on the consequences of Shimon Forest disappearing. Hopefully this will highlight to the kids the importance of the forest in every aspect of their lives, now they are more aware of what it gives them! The overlying theme for our environmental education lessons is going to be instilling a sense of pride in Shimoni Forest, which is actually their forest, so that they will go away with a better understanding of its role in their lives, and their role in its safe keeping.