Environment TOBAGO Education Centre
"To conduct environmental education programmes for the people of Tobago to increase their awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the importance of a healthy, biologically diverse and beautiful natural environment that would develop feelings of wonder, pride and responsibility, which would lead to active environmental care taking."
The purpose is to increase Tobago's capacity to achieve long-term sustainable development by establishing an Environmental Education Centre where staff, interns and volunteers will design and implement a wide range of educational initiatives both in-house and throughout the island to promote the inclusion of environmental conservation in the social and economic development of Tobago.
The Environment TOBAGO Education Centre is Tobago's first and only comprehensive source of environmental information and environmental education resources.
Generous support for this Education Centre has been received from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.
1. Produce additional educational materials specific to Tobago (fact sheets, information packets, booklets, videos, slide shows, and educational games).
2. Expand the collection of resources on tropical ecosystems and environmental issues relevant to Tobago and the Caribbean region.
3. Run monthly in-house programmes (discussion groups, workshops, seminars, and lectures) for specific target groups (teachers, decision-makers, technical personnel, and environmental managers) and the general public.
4. Expand outreach programmes to schools, communities and other target groups. This includes:
- A travelling classroom that will visit each school on the island for one week and serve as an information and activity centre.
- Student field trips and weekend eco-camps to promote appreciation and understanding of our natural environment.
- Presentations for secondary school students on the environmental modules in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) syllabi.
- Public awareness events (fairs, exhibitions, etc.) for World Environment Day, World Wetlands Day, etc.
5. Expand the public awareness campaign / communication network (including an Internet communication network via e-mail and discussion groups, a newsletter of the Centre's activities, a website, a weekly column in Tobago's one and only newspaper.
6. Acquire and manage resources for operation of the Centre, namely:
- Professional and competent staff, interns, and volunteers.
- Stable and sustainable sources of funding from a combination of grants, corporate sponsorship, donations, user fees, and other income-generating activities.
ET maintains a website (you are here), which was launched in mid 1996.
Publications & Materials:
ET has produced ten issues of its newsletter since 1996, totaling 100 pages in all. Approximately 7,000 individual newsletters have been distributed to all ET members, all Tobago Secondary schools, all Tobago libraries, the UWI library, and 100 selected individuals/agencies/organisations. The newsletter covers environmental issues in Tobago and activities under ET’s programmes.
Apart from its newsletters, ET has produced ten fact sheets on key environmental issues in Tobago, a 28-page teacher’s information packet on solid waste, and a 20-page information packet on wetlands. These are distributed to the public free of charge. ET has also developed several interactive games, posters and slide presentations used at schools and public lectures.
Secondary School Programme - CXC Principles of Business and Chemistry Presentations:
In addition to occasional lectures conducted at secondary schools upon request, ET is developing packaged presentations that can be offered to support and enhance the curricula. Packaged slide presentations have been prepared for the environmental components of both the Principles of Business and Chemistry CXC subjects. These were piloted with three secondary schools early in 2000, and will continue to be offered. Presentations for CXC Chemistry on "Tobago Waters: A New Life" were given at four secondary schools in January 2001. The packages are designed so volunteers and interns can easily use them to give comprehensive and detailed presentations.
Photo: Harmon's SDA students play a game to learn how pollution affects wetlands and watercourses at the Wetlands Day Exhibition in February 2001.
Primary Schools and Secondary Centres Programme - Biodiversity Module:
Photo: Young students from Maple Leaf International School (Trinidad) see a slide show on Trinidad & Tobago's biodiversity by one of ET's staff.
In addition to occasional presentations conducted at primary schools upon request, ET has developed packaged activities that can be offered to support and enhance the curricula. Approximately fifty interdisciplinary activities on biodiversity conservation (under the topics forests, wetlands, coral reefs and general cross-cutting approaches) have been prepared for upper Primary Schools and Secondary Centres. These are focused on the four themes of what is biodiversity, why is biodiversity important, what is threatening biodiversity, and what can we do to conserve biodiversity. These activities creatively use interactive methods to teach both about environmental issues and reinforce learning in the core subject areas (language, science, social studies, the arts, etc.). These were used in late 2000 and early 2001 at several primary schools and secondary centres schools with approximately 220 students. The module package is designed so that volunteers or teachers can use it. One teacher-training workshop was held in 2000, and more are planned for early to mid 2001.
Photo: ET holds exhibitions around the island to teach about environmental conservation issues.
ET has developed a collection of posters and games and takes part at various exhibitions hosted by organisations in Tobago, including the Life After School Fair, the Tobago Heritage Festival, the Horticultural Society Fair, the Tobago Food Fair, National History Week in 1998, The World Environment Exhibition in 1998, Ocean 98, and World Environment Day events.
World Environment Day Extravaganza:
Photo: The marine touch tank was a popular item at ET's World Environment Day Extravaganza 2000.
A family fair was held in June at Mt Pleasant Community Grounds to commemorate World Environment Day 2000. The Extravaganza aimed firstly to increase public awareness of environmental issues in Tobago and secondly to raise funds for ET’s conservation programmes. This event was attended by over hundreds of Tobagonians from around the island. There were nineteen exhibits in total, including ET’s educational booth. The exhibits ranged from poster displays, to interactive a (marine invertebrate) touch tank, displays of marine specimens and caged local wildlife, to ceramic workshops for children. Ten eco-vendors displayed their eco-products for sale. There was also a DJ and live drumming and Tambrin bands, storytelling and a calypso presentation by Michael K Hall school.
Tobago News Column:
A regular weekly column is maintained in this newspaper, with articles written by ET staff and members. In September 2000 a monthly guest column from the THA Department of Natural Resources and Environment was added. Articles range from discussions on topical environmental issues and advocating action, to articles featuring ET programmes, to articles reporting on current initiatives in environmental management, to articles reviewing fundamental principles of conservation and sustainable development.
Clean School Competition:
Photo: Clean School Competition 2000 - Joanna Legall of the Solid Waste Management Company Limited presents their Challenge Trophy for the Best Reduce, Reuse and Recycling Efforts to a student from Whim Anglican Primary School.
This annual programme for primary and secondary schools was first held in 1999 and again in 2000, with over half of the schools in Tobago participating. Litterbins and posters were distributed to every school in 1999, and 200 copies of a 28-page teacher’s information packet were distributed in 2000. A teacher-training workshop was also held in 2000, with teachers from 23 schools participating. Most of the participating schools demonstrated reductions in the incidence of littering and improvements in the overall management of solid waste. This programme receives sponsorship from the JB Fernandez Trust and local corporate sponsors for prizes and administration. Cash prizes (over $6,000 TT for 2000), books, certificates and two challenge trophies were donated.
Photo: Here Generation YES members are with ET studying the mangroves of Bon Accord wetlands to commemorate World Wetlands Day 2000.
ET is mentoring several youth groups, including Generation YES (Youths Encouraging Sustainability), Environmental Wonder Workers (EWW) and the Bishop's High School Environmental Club. ET developed networks with youth groups at the Caribbean Youth Environmental Explosion 2000 held at the University of the West Indies in August 2000. ET is seeking to promote action by youth groups, as well as youths volunteering in ET programmes. - Nicole Leotaud - Education Centre Director - April, 2001