Written by Jessica Karina (BNF’s Education Staff)
Since the children’s world is considered to be fresh, new, and captivating, it provides us room to fill that world with many forward-looking ideas that will prepare them to grow as responsible individuals in the future. One of those ideas is to promote environmental education to help raise early environmental awareness in children. The awareness we expect to foster a sense of connection between children and the natural world; most importantly forests, plants, and other vulnerable animal species. Having said that, the BNF Education Team always strives to promote such education to children across all ages to be critically aware of their surrounding environment. Teaching children about the environment, nature, and vulnerable animal species are the core concept of this awareness-raising education.
The team always uses creative ways to deliver messages about the environment. One of those is carried out by storytelling. It departs from the idea that stories create magic and a sense of wonder for a young learner. Storytelling is one unique way for children to develop an understanding, respect and appreciation for nature. We bring this into the soul of our education programme called “Gibbon Goes To School”. The programme is inspired by a children’s storybook written by the BNF team called “The Little Gibbon Who Lost His Song”. It delivers messages about Borneo’s wildlife, rainforests and the serious threat of forest and land fires. The book tells the story of a gibbon called “Little Gibbon”. Little gibbon becomes separated from his family in the thick, black smoke of the forest caused by the forest fires. The story follows the adventures of Little Gibbon as he tries to reunite with his family.
The “Gibbon Goes To School” programme is aimed at young learners between the ages of 4 and 7 years old who live in Palangka Raya specifically those who live in the entrance gate to Borneo’s majestic rainforests. Yet, most of them have little knowledge about primates or the threats to the rainforest. This becomes evident when our team asked a few questions about the animals that inhabit the rainforest and only a few of them (children) could name the animals that we asked. In fact, most of them never knew about gibbons before they came to know the story. During the storytelling activity, the children were really excited to hear the adventures of the little gibbon. The team also dressed up as some of the animals in the book to help the children visualise the story.
Hopefully, by reading this book the children can grow to be fully aware of the nature that surrounds them. The goal of “Gibbon Goes To School” is to teach the children to love the animals and the rainforest that surrounds them. Only then can we expect them to try and preserve this natural treasure. Just like trees, the slower a child grows at first, the stronger they become at the core.