Environmental Education for Primary Schools
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Environmental Education for Primary Schools

Environment Tobago is pleased to announce that we will be running an environmental education teacher training course through funding from the BPTT Leader Award.

In 2001 Environment Tobago succeeded in winning the BPTT “Youth in Education” Leader Award for an innovative education programme that seeks to improve student learning and achievement in the academic field. The award provides funding for non-governmental organizations that offer educational support outside the mainstream system.

The original proposal that we put forward concerned the newly established Secondary Centres. These schools aimed to provide an alternative education programme, in order to address the special needs of those children who had not performed well in the Secondary Entrance Exam.

Children who do not achieve their full potential in mainstream schools often have different learning styles and are stimulated by more practical activities, rather than the more traditional “chalk and talk” teaching often found in classrooms. An innovative teaching methodology and curriculum was needed to address the needs of these children. Environment Tobago saw an ideal opportunity to develop a pilot programme in the three Secondary Centres in Tobago using environmental education as a tool for interdisciplinary hands-on teaching across the curricular.

A number of teachers were trained, who responded very positively to the programme and have started to incorporate environmental education into their own teaching practice.

Environment Tobago is now adapting this programme for Tobago’s Primary schools. Our new goal is to develop a methodology and teaching guide for infusing environmental education across the Primary school curricular that can then be published and issued to schools.

It is vital that, from an early age, children acquire a good knowledge and understanding of their surroundings and the natural resources of their bountiful island. Only then will they gain respect for the environment and a desire to take care of it. This is the key to a sustainable future for Tobago.

Though environmental education is very important in itself, there is also a great potential to use it to teach standard curricular. Nature can be a great teaching tool to deepen children’s understanding of science, mathematics, language, arts and social studies.

Again, the emphasis will be on using environmental education as a tool for interdisciplinary hands-on teaching. We very much believe that, especially at a young age, education should be experiential, interactive and creative in order to stimulate interest in and excitement about learning. Only then will children gain the motivation, confidence and independence necessary to achieve their full potential.

Environment Tobago invites all Primary school teachers to attend the course which will begin in November. As well as developing skills in using environmental education in schools and learning innovative new teaching methods, you will be able to increase your own knowledge about the environment and sustainability. Guest speakers will be invited to talk about their specialist subjects and a field trip arranged to investigate Tobago’s different eco-systems. Environment Tobago’s traveling eco-classroom, with a wide range of books, videos, posters and games will also be available to visit your school as part of the programme.

The programme will be run after school hours, twice per week initially from 4.00pm – 6.00pm on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Light refreshments will be offered and the cost of travel to Scarborough from rural areas will be refunded. All Primary school principles have already received detailed information of the timetable and content of the course, which should be in schools now.

We hope that many teachers will take advantage of this course, which promises to be both informative and inspiring. All interested persons should call Environment Tobago phone 660 7462 or e-mail envirtob@tstt.net.tt for further information and to register for this course. The closing date for registration is Friday 25th October. Secondary school teachers with a special interest in environmental education may also apply. We look forward to seeing you. - By Anoushka Visvalingam - October, 2002
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