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  1. #1
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    Default Environmental Education - Is There Any?

    I would like to hear from all the DR1ers currently teaching in Dominican schools (whether public or private), or have kids in school in the DR.

    Are your kids getting any semblance of environmental education?

    The framework environment law adopted in 2000, Law 64-00, calls for it. As far as I can determine, Hipolito's Administration did little to implement the provisions. [If there are Hippo defenders who can point to concrete steps (an actual plan, program or curriculum) taken to the contrary by the prior Administation, I'd be interested to hear. Otherwise, spare us the propaganda.]

    The Fernandez Administration claims to be doing something. Witness the following press release from the Environment Ministry in late August:

    Proyecto educativo busca integrar
    el desarrollo sostenible con el humano
    24 de Agosto del 2005

    "Bienvenidos a la Escuela por un Ambiente Sano" está dirigido a estudiantes de niveles inicial, básico y medio, docentes y la comunidad

    Con un programa piloto que busca articular la gestión ambiental con la población estudiantil, la Secretaría de Estado de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales y los centros docentes dieron la bienvenida a los estudiantes que regresan a las aulas para el nuevo año escolar.

    El programa "Bienvenidos a la Escuela por un Ambiente Sano" ofrece a los estudiantes de nivel inicial, básico y medio, a los docentes y comunitarios la oportunidad para aunar voluntades y coordinar acciones tendentes a crear las condiciones para mantener un ambiente sano, tanto en las escuelas y colegios, como en los hogares y la comunidad.

    Iniciado en el anterior año lectivo en tres escuelas del Distrito Nacional, el programa piloto será implementado esta vez en cinco escuelas y colegios, a fin de conformar en los mismos "los clubes defensores del ambiente", con estudiantes de nivel básico y "Ventanitas Ecológicas", con el nivel inicial.

    "A través de estos programas se podrán ejecutar acciones conjuntas entre la familia, la escuela y el resto de la comunidad, lo que permitirá una integración en la que todos sean partícipes directos de cambios positivos en sus formas de vida, para disfrutar de un ambiente sano y por tanto mejor nivel de salud", dijo Martha Pérez, subsecretaria de Educación e Información Ambiental.

    Señaló que estos programas podrán complementarse con los clubes escolares que auspicia en todas las escuelas la Secretaría de Estado de Educación y de esta forma fortalecer el acuerdo interinstitucional suscrito entre ambas entidades.

    El programa es una herramienta educativa para estimular el respeto y amor al medio ambiente y los recursos naturales y una respuesta a las necesidades de desarrollo sostenible del país y el desarrollo humano, como aspecto fundamental, indicó Pérez.

    "La educación y el cuidado del medio ambiente y los recursos naturales es responsabilidad de todos", dijo.
    What I want to know is any of this getting into your kids' classrooms yet?

    I'd also welcome ideas on just what should be in an environmental education component of the curriculum for the various levels (grade, middle, high, college) in the DR, and how it might best be taught in the Dominican context.

    The floor is open.

  2. #2
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    My son is in the third grade and attends a public school here in El Seybo. I take a very active role in his homework and I have reviewed his school books, of the few that he has, from cover to cover and can honestly say that he is learning nothing truly useful concerning environmental education.

    They teach basics such as how plants depend on sunlight and water to survive but any reference as to what anyone and everyone needs to do to help the enviornment in any of its facets is not being taught in this area of the DR.

    Rick

  3. #3
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    Hmm, for fear of appearing cynical:

    Nice projects with brightly coloured paintings of the planet with earnest messages about protecting the environment - OFTEN.

    Translating those messages into personal responsibility or linking them to everyday behaviour - HARDLY EVER

    In the private school next door to where we used to live, there were no litter bins in the schoolyard and children just threw their drinks cartons and snack packets on the ground, for the sweeper to collect after they'd all gone home. I'm willing to bet any amount that at least one of the classrooms has pretty pictures on the wall about saving the planet. Just one example.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, Rick. My guess is that, as they seem to do with all new programs in the DR, they are starting with the capital and perhaps Santiago and then slowly (oh-so-slowly) fanning out to the other provinces.

    But given the clear need for it, and the fact that it's been five years now since the law was passed, I think that they really should pick up the pace.

    Let me ask you, if you were teaching a third grader in the DR like your son, what concepts about the environment do you think he should be introduced to, and how would you do so?

    I recall, for example, when my son was in fourth grade and had to do a science fair project, after examining a number of books about science fair ideas recommended by the teacher, to my surprise he picked one about decomposition of materials. He took a bunch of common materials -- different grades of paper, glass, cardboard, plastic, wood (from a pencil), metal (bottle tops, paper clips), styrofoam, etc. -- noted their condition, size, composition, etc., then buried them in damp earth for 60 days. He dug them up at midpoint (30 days) and examined and noted any changes, and did the same at endpoint (60). He was surprised at how little things had changed (except for the paper). In his presentation to class he talked about what this meant it was all the more important for us not to litter, and the need to reuse & recycle certain materials, and which ones might be possible to compost. As he said when it was all over, "Dad, now I understand why you are so worked up about how we handle our wastes."

    A hands-on lesson, as it were. And as with most boys, he enjoyed getting his hands in wet dirt! LOL

    Best Regards,
    Keith
    Last edited by Keith R; 12-13-2005 at 01:15 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chirimoya
    Hmm, for fear of appearing cynical:

    Nice projects with brightly coloured paintings of the planet with earnest messages about protecting the environment - OFTEN.

    Translating those messages into personal responsibility or linking them to everyday behaviour - HARDLY EVER

    In the private school next door to where we used to live, there were no litter bins in the schoolyard and children just threw their drinks cartons and snack packets on the ground, for the sweeper to collect after they'd all gone home. I'm willing to bet any amount that at least one of the classrooms has pretty pictures on the wall about saving the planet. Just one example.
    I know what you mean. I saw the same thing happening when my kids attended Montessori school in SD.

    I've often wondered if it might change things for the kids if they as a class project went to clean up a plaza or street or mini-park near their school. I would love it if someone like Bon sponsored a contest among all the public schools, where the top classes cleaning up some area around their school got a recognition plaque and a voucher for all the class members and the teacher for a free ice cream at Bon. Just a thought.

    Let me ask you Chiri -- how would you translate the messages into personal responsibility if you were one of their teachers?

    Regards,
    Keith

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    I used to do this all the time when I was with Friends of the Earth. We used to go into schools and speak to the children, and depending on the age group we would do not-too-subtle stuff like brainstorm what they do in their everyday lives that is helpful or harmful to the environment, and the discussion would follow on from there, ending up with a list of action points. We also used to work with the teachers, who were a very enthusiastic constituency.

    Getting children involved in clean-up campaigns is an excellent idea. Trouble is, so many of them grow up without being required to lift a finger in their own homes, it's going to be difficult to get them to get their hands dirty outdoors.

    Having said that, there is a schools community service programme in the DR, I can't remember what it's called but I once spoke to a group of teenagers who were part of this, collecting litter in the Botanical Gardens.

  7. #7
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    I have taught in two private schools in SD. They get lots of classes and projects on macro subjects like "Global Warming" and "World Poverty" etc. etc. but very little on Micro issues like basic sanitation and personal responsibility.

    It is amazing to see the messes that kids will leave behind for others to clean up after them. Kids in the states can be little pigs too but the four high schools I worked at in Boston did not compare to here. They are used to having someone wait on them from a very young age. They also rarely see their parents lift a finger because everyone has a maid. I think even my maid has a maid.

    At the school I teach at now we are frustrated about how to solve the problem or at least improve it. I personally take a lot of time to do my part. Sometimes they don't like it but I could care less. This is the last week of classes before Xmas and usually if kids are good we do something fun. One of my classes today left my room dirty. On Thursday we are having a "cleaning party". They will mop the floors and scrub my tables. Bah humbug!

    Scandall

  8. #8
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    Chiri, how difficult would it be to train others to do what you used to do for Friends of the Earth? I mean, could you for example teach willing DR1ers how to go to schools and do that effectively? Not only the schools of their kids and schools that they teach at (I recall that Scandall and some others on this board are teachers in the DR), but others in their community? What kind of training and resources would such an effort require?

  9. #9
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    Scandall, thanks for the input. I personally think (though I am no expert on pedagogy concerning environmental issues) that all that stuff on global issues is nice, but if you don't find some way to bring it down to the personal level in some way, it's a lost lesson on the student. That goes for students anywhere, not just in the DR.

  10. #10
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    There are tons of resources for this on the web. Even in the pre-web dark ages when I did this sort of work organisations like FoE and others had plenty of good educational action packs and the like. These days you can access them at the click of a mouse. The difficult part would be where to start and where to stop.

    It would take some research, and then the logistics of getting a group together of people who would be willing to do this. What about the schools end?

    I'm game if others are!

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