Written by Dinora (BNF’s Education Staff)
Education and environment cannot be separated from one another, as if they are two sides of a coin. When put together they can inspire a generation which cares about, and is able to contribute to nature conservation: environment as the idea and education as the tool to develop an awareness that everyone can contribute to making the world a better place for all to live in. This is one of the principal goals of Borneo Nature Foundation’s education program. We believe that environmental education is a valuable investment in our future. Conserving our forest today is important, but building a generation which cares, and has the ability to act, is just as important.
Conservation class (Kelasi) is one of the BNF education team’s core programs, promoting a creative and fun approach in its teaching. Conservation class is conducted as a series of 10 sessions for each participating school, and this program is implemented two or three times each semester in schools near Sebangau forest, and which are within BNF’s working area. The program is designed and tailored specifically to incorporate teaching, games and experiments, in modules with clear objectives and technical guidelines for implementation.
In the Peat-swamp Forest teaching module, the facilitator provides participants with a comprehensive learning experience, incorporating audio, visual, and kinesthetic (learn while actively move) elements to create an immersive learning experience. In audio, participants are given presentations by facilitators with memorable and easy-to-understand keywords. For visual learning, participants are provided with peat-swamp forest illustrations, containing messages about the benefits the forest provides for the environment while at the same time facing threats from illegal logging and fire. For kinesthetic learning, participants are given samples such as peat and tasked to analyze and describe its composition.
In the Owa-owa (Gibbon) teaching module, participants are introduced to the subject with a visual experience, being shown photos and illustrations of gibbons. Then, for the audio element, they are presented with recordings of gibbons singing in the Sebangau forest; male, female, and even the sound of an angry gibbon. Kinesthetic activities are implemented by putting together a puzzle and by an outdoor game imitating the sound of gibbons.
In summary, each module has been developed based on three factors: audio, visual, and kinesthetic. Before each activity, the facilitator leads an ice-breaking activity to stimulate the childrens’ brainwaves, prepare them to learn, and make the children aware that, at the end of the session, they will share their experience and what they have learned that day.
BNF’s education program understands the importance of providing a fun experience in learning, therefore lecturing, games, and experiments are an integral part of every conservation class. Through this approach, participants can be actively learning and facilitators are tasked to support and stimulate the critical thinking of each participant. Each module also comes with an evaluation form which is completed by the school teachers who have been involved in the program to ensure that schools and teachers are involved in developing and refining the teaching modules.