Island partnership aids environmental learning

A new range of books, posters and DVDs to guide Seychellois students through the wonders of the country’s unique environment will be in classrooms soon thanks to a public-private partnership deal signed yesterday at Nature Seychelles’ Roche Caiman environment centre.

From left: Nature Seychelles' CEO Nirmal Shah; Nature Seychelles' GEF Project Coordinator Kerstin Henri; Education Principal Secretary Jeanne Simeon; and Cousine Isand Executive Chairman Selwyn Gendron

School children colouring in the book . All photos © Dao Nguyen

Education Principal Secretary Jeanne Simeon signed the agreement with Nature Seychelles’ Chief Executive, Nirmal Shah, who – sitting alongside Cousine Island Ltd, Executive Chairman, Selwyn Gendron –  put pen to paper on behalf of Nature Seychelles and Cousine Island Ltd.

Under the agreement a wide range of educational materials and at least 35 computers will be donated to the Ministry of Education, as Nature Seychelles and Cousine Island channel funds from GEF projects into local environmental education programmes.

The agreement forms part of the GEF funded “Improving Management of NGO and Privately Owned Nature Reserves and High Biodiversity Islands in Seychelles” project involving Nature Seychelles and Cousine Island, one component of which is a public education and advocacy programme, which includes working on materials for local schools.

Signing the agreement yesterday morning PS Simeon said that the agreement and subsequent resource materials would support and strengthen environmental education in schools.

“We already know that we will benefit under this new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Nature Seychelles,” said that PS, after referring to substantial work accomplished under a previous agreement with Nature Seychelles signed in 2000, which is still in force.

Mr Shah also drew the link between yesterday’s signing and the long standing MoU.

“Some questioned our move and others were sceptical. [But] both the Ministry and Nature Seychelles saw opportunity where others saw nothing. Since then we have participated with the Ministry in national and regional workshops, implemented a multitude of training programs for teachers and produced many specialised products for the curricula and for use in extra curricula activities.”

And he also highlighted the importance of links forged between Cousin and Cousine.

“Today we have brought another partner to the table – Cousine island. Together Nature Seychelles and Cousine island are now offering new and exciting materials and equipment,” he said.

With the signing of the agreement, Nature Seychelles and Cousine will develop an educational DVD consisting of environmental educational materials and a wildlife photo database, a series of posters, a student-centred book on Seychelles island biodiversity and will donate 35 computers on which to run the DVDs.

One of the first learning-resources to come out of the GEF-Nature Seychelles-Cousine Island agreement, a young learners wildlife colouring book, was ready for hand over immediately after yesterday’s signing.

Pupils from six nearby schools got a chance to try out the colouring book, which features a range of local animals and a guide chart showing their colours, in an attempt to familiarise young children with Seychelles’ endemic animal species.

Nature Seychelles, 28th September 2006

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