Environmental education strategies during the pandemic

Outreach Blog

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Before the pandemic, BNF’s Education Team regularly conducted environmental education program “Anak Sebangau” (Children of Sebangau) activities outdoors, where the children could play and learn about the environmental themes. However, since the pandemic has restricted group gatherings, including outdoor activities, we altered our strategy by creating and compiling worksheet into a weekly pack.

We compile and prepare the weekly pack, then distribute it to every child in the Anak Sebangau group. Each week we go to Kereng subdistrict and visit the children’s houses one by one to give the weekly pack, which furthermore strengthens the relationship between the educators, the children and their parents. The team also bring fruit to the children to promote a healthy lifestyle.

When the sun is up, we travel to Kereng Bangkirai subdistrict, Palangka Raya City, where the Anak Sebangau activities are usually held. We spend approximately 3.5 hours visiting all the children’s houses, starting from the house on the side of the road, then walking through a narrow alley, over a small wooden bridge, finally reaching the house on the side of the Sebangau River. In addition to the education packs, we also spend time with the children, have a little conversation about their day, ask how they are feeling, and ask how the activities are going during distance learning. While sitting in front of the children’s houses, at a distance and wearing masks, we also get the opportunity to have a conversation with the parents, most of whom are housewives (while the fathers work).

The mother of one of the children (Rifandi), said she was happy with the weekly packages. From these activities, her son gets a variety of fun tasks and worksheets, such as cutting and gluing, crossword puzzles, coloring, stories about animals, and many more. Aini’s parents said that this activity added to their children’s insight into the environment, the Sebangau forest, and the biodiversity in it that she wasn’t aware of before. Some parents help their children work on the worksheets, and other neighbouring children are also interested in joining and getting the weekly package themselves. As a result, the number of children who get the weekly package is almost the same as the number of children who participated in the regular Sebangau Children activities outdoors.

It has been six months since outdoor activities were stopped, and some children still ask when regular activities will resume as they missed playing and learning together. We cannot yet confirm when we will restart outdoor activities because we don’t know when the pandemic will end. We are missing teaching the children, conducting activities outdoors, and going on field trips to the forest without having to keep a distance and wear masks.

We hope that the pandemic will end soon so our regular outdoor activities can be held again with the children.

Written by Petricia A. Hutasoit, BNF’s Education Staff