Lessons in ecology
These handbooks sensitise students to the environmental problems of Lakshadweep.
We watched the two fishermen come ashore with their catch. The calm waters of the lagoon reflected the colours of the sinking sun. The children could identify and name the different species of fish with ease.
Early the next morning we went for a walk. The beach was deserted and the tide was slowly and insistently coming in. Hermit crabs scurried past. The next day took us to the school. We showed a group of eager 10-11 year olds the book on tropical coral reef fishes (of the Maldives, but very similar and close). They identified and named them. We got the local names of 120 species of fishes in less than an hour.
It is into this broad topographic, ecological and social context that attempts were made by the Delhi based environmental group, Kalpavriksh to produce handbooks for environmental education. This is for teachers to introduce environmental concepts in the classes under the EOSE scheme of the MHRD. Besides dealing with the natural features, the book gives valuable insight into the major environmental problems that the islands face. The chapters are substantiated with activities that teachers can plan with students and exhaustive check-lists of flora and fauna. The history, culture, traditions and resource use patterns of the islands are also covered.
The people involved
The Department of Education, the Department of Science, Technology and Environment and the Department of Information and Publicity gave logistic support for the work in Lakshadweep. The Andaman and Nicobar Environmental Action Team together with Centre for Environment Education and WWF India co-ordinated the activities in the Andamans. Workshops were conducted for teachers to familiarise them with the programme.
The manuals The Treasured Islands for Andaman and Nicobar, and Nammude Dweep, Lakshadweep for Lakshadweep (Our Island Lakshadweep) are attempts at evolving a environmental vocabulary in the islands.
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