“I have never seen the children react this way. I am genuinely impressed by this campaign.” Those were the words of the principal of Manono-Uta Primary School, Esera Teleiai, as he watched his students enjoy their school holidays with the ‘Guardians - Tausi Lou Fa’asinomaga’ campaign team.
The Va’a Based Environmental Education Campaign, which was based at Manono-Uta Primary School throughout last week, made a lasting impact on both the students and the teachers of the targeted district – Aiga I Le Tai.
The district’s five schools; Mulifanua, Apolima-Uta, Manono-Uta, Salua and Faleu Primary Schools, took part in the campaign allowing the Guardians to reach more than 120 children with their environmental lessons.
The primary goal of a campaign of this nature is to increase the environmental literacy of Samoan communities through their youth. This is done with the use Samoa’s traditional voyaging canoe, the Gaualofa, as a floating classroom to bring these messages and also teach about Samoa’s proud voyaging history in the region, and what wise environmental ‘Guardians’ our ancestors were.
“Building pride in our Samoan voyaging heritage and what our ancestors were capable of is an important part of this education campaign. As where there is pride, there can be effective change.” As reiterated by Campaign director and S.V.S. President, Schannel van Dijken, during an earlier interview.
Armed with five conservation themed modules – Wise Fishers, Coral Champion, Samoan Voyager, Trash Star and Tree Guardians – the Guardians team employed a variety of unique and interactive teaching techniques to grasp the interest of the year seven students of the popular fishing district.
This was done with the understanding that all children are different – some absorb lessons better when they are in the classroom while others prefer practical/hands-on ways of learning.
The students were snorkeling, played environment themed games, visited mangrove sites, sang songs/jingles, and learnt ins and outs of the grand Gaualofa. This was followed by outdoor cinema movie nights for the children to enjoy.
Led by Conservation International (CI) Samoa and implemented together with various collaborating partners, the week at Manono-Uta was seen as a huge success – this view was not only shared amongst the Guardians team, but also the district’s teachers and students.
According to Mr. Teleiai, the schools involved were impressed by how the environmental lessons were delivered and are looking into using some of the techniques in their own teaching careers.
“Based on the response of the students as they took part in the activities, you can tell how impressed they were,” he explained.
“By looking at the expressions on their faces, it’s obvious that they have learnt a lot from this program and the excitement they show towards learning from this type of campaign is refreshing.
“One thing that amazed me was how some topics taught during the campaign has not yet been covered in school, but the students were able to learn it all in just one week. I am so thankful for that.
“I now understand that there should be a good balance between theory-type lessons and practical activities to help our children really understand what is taught to them.”
CI Samoa would like to thank one of its key funding partners, the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, who were in the country for five days last week and visited the campaign site.
CI Samoa would also like to express their sincere thanks to Manono-Uta Primary School for being such gracious hosts, as well as all the key implementing partners; Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Samoa Voyaging Society, Youth Climate Action Network Samoa, Samoa Conservation Society, National University of Samoa, and with support from Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Secretariat of The Pacific Regional Environmental Program.
If you would like a more detailed description of each conservation module used by the Guardians, you will be able to find it in the article published by the Samoa Observer on the 1st of October 2018, titled “Environmental Guardians set sail”.