SAIIER 2016:Environmental Education in Auroville's Bioregion

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Well-being of adolescent girls through inner and outer means
SAIIER Annual Report 2015-16 icon.jpg




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Auroville Sports Resource Centre
Environmental Education in Auroville's Bioregion
A project of the Auroville Botanical Gardens


Introduction

Environmental education is an educational methodology and a overall approach to involve the students community and the general public to maintain a sustainable and eco friendly environment. Environmental education has been applied to encourage the public to take responsible actions to bring back the earth’s balance. Today more than ever society needs high quality environmental education programs that succeed in moving values and changing behavior in the direction of sustainability and environmental conservation. The Auroville Botanical Gardens with a passion for the environment and a gift for interpreting nature to students has a nine years experience in providing quality environmental education to the students and general public of the Auroville bioregion.

Our educational activities

Our educational content for students emphasizes the conservation of Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests, wildlife protection and waste-free lifestyles. Our educational programs had a positive impact on students' self-esteem, motivation and engagement. Though our focus was mostly on students, we also organized educational programs for teachers and Self-Help Group members. The content of training programs for teachers was designed in a way to impart environmental education to students during academics. The Self-Help Group members were trained on waste segregation and traditional medicine preparation. Our educational package guided them to equip themselves and to improve their knowledge on environmental concerns.

Programs for children

A substantial number of our education programs were organized for schools of the Auroville bioregion. They range from one-day visits to seven-days camps. Our package for students was designed for understanding the local ecosystems and their interrelationship, and developing the ability to identify and analyze information relating to environmental problems.

Student visits: This year, 3863 students from 93 schools took part in the exposure visits to the Botanical Gardens, focusing mainly on the indigenous Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests. Group discussions, identifying native tree species and introducing students to the indigenous flora and fauna helped students to understand the types of ecosystem, impact of ecosystem destruction, loss of habitat, need to conserve indigenous forests. Stress was also put on protection of wildlife.

Awareness camps: The main agenda of organizing awareness camps was to enthuse students to take measures for safeguarding the environment. With these programs we aim to enhance attitudes, values and skills. The following camps took place this academic year:

Date Camp No. of participants
01.02.15 NSS (National Service Scheme) camp 26
15.02.15 NSS camp 40
24.04.15 Summer camp 40

Special programs: In order to elevate the standards of our education programs, special programs were organized by the Botanical Gardens. These type of programs were reminders for students to stay on track. Many important environmental days were celebrated with specially designed activities including awareness cycle rallies and exposure field visits to indigenous forests.

Teacher training programs

In this academic year, 169 teachers from the schools of Cuddalore and Pondicherry participated in our Eco Teacher Training programs. These programs showed how to impart environmental education to students during classes. Teachers were requested to make use of local flora and fauna of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests and take cognizance of local environmental problems.

Self-Help Group visits

More than 385 members from 12 Self-Help Groups took part in exposure visits to the Botanical Gardens. As most of the members were from rural and agrarian communities, the focus was on agriculture-related activities and waste management in daily life. The main objective of our programs for the Self-Help Groups is to make them realize that they can contribute significantly towards achieving environmental sustainability.

Outcomes

The multi-faceted nature of environmental education is a key component of its effectiveness. The basic requirement for achieving our goal is the motivation of teachers to make environmental education a central focus; we aim to equip them with all sorts of skills and knowledge.

Our educational package for Self-Help Groups guides them to equip themselves and to improve the conditions of their family and villages. Many Self-Help Group members have started their own vermicomposting units, have set up home gardens, have started using their household wastes as manure in the gardens, and have started segregating their household waste.