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  • Webinar on Learning Content of "Shiga Uminoko" (Part 2) (Lake Managua Environmental Conservation and BIWAKO TF Activities, Nicaragua)


September 7, 2022

Webinar on Learning Content of "Shiga Uminoko" (Part 2) (Lake Managua Environmental Conservation and BIWAKO TF Activities, Nicaragua)


Conference Title: Webinar on Learning Content of "Shiga Uminoko" (Part 2) (Lake Managua Environmental Conservation and BIWAKO TF Activities, Nicaragua)
Date: September 7th, 2022 17:00-19:00 (Nicaragua time),September 8, 2022 08:00-10:00 (Japan time)
Organizer: BIWAKO Task Force Group, Managua City Hall/Nicaragua Office
Location: Online Seminar


Nicaragua side:
・Ministry of Education (16 persons), Managua City Hall (10 persons), Nicaraguan Center for Aquatic Resources Research (6 persons)

Japanese side
・Shiga Prefectural Board of Education, Shiga Prefecture Lake Biwa Floating School (8 persons)
・BIWAKO Task Force members from JICA Nicaragua (8 persons)
・JICA Headquarter (Global Environment Department, JICA Kansai Center, JICA Shiga Desk, and others (5 persons)

Background and Objectives


Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America after Haiti. Managua, its capital city is bordered by the Lake Managua, which is nearly twice the size of Lake Biwa. While Lake Managua is being developed as a tourist resource, water pollution is becoming serious issue due to the inflow of contaminated water caused by insufficient sewerage system, and Nicaragua is unable to take advantage of its rich natural resources.

JICA Nicaragua Office aware of this situation, studied domestic examples and abroad, paid attention to the experience of Shiga Prefecture in the conservation and restoration of Lake Biwa, which has developed its economy while promoting environmental conservation and restoration through the "Lake Biwa Model" that Shiga Prefecture has been promoting to the world. BIWAKO Task Force (hereinafter referred to as the TF) was established to consider the challenges of Lake Managua environmental conservation in 2020. After 2021, with the cooperation of the International Lake Environment Committee (ILEC), Shiga Prefecture's Board of Education, and floating school officials engaged in Lake Biwa environmental conservation, we are implementing diverse activities related to the environmental conservation of Lake Managua.

In Nicaragua, the Nicaraguan version of "Uminoko(*)" has been implemented since last year, based on the 40-year experience of the "Uminoko" boat-boarding study (lake conservation) in Shiga Prefecture. The first onboard environmental learning experience in Nicaragua received high recognition from the children and teachers who actually experienced the learning onboard. Nicaragua's Minister of Education also shared the experience in 2021 at COP26.

For this webinar, teachers from the Shiga Floating School gave a presentation on the educational contents before, during, and after boarding, while conducting several live experiments with the aim of further upgrading and enriching the educational contents of the Nicaraguan version of "Uminoko" to facilitate the implementation of environmental education.

(*)Uminoko is a boarding study program operated by the Shiga Prefectural Lake Biwa Floating School for the purpose of preserving the Lake Biwa environment. It offers an experience-based learning for fifth-grade elementary school students living in Shiga Prefecture.


The 2nd presentation of "Shiga Uminoko" study contents

1. Explanation of the learning boat "Uminoko" (history, achievements, facilities, vision, etc.)

2. Explanation of educational contents
a. "Pre-boarding learning" before boarding
b. "Learning about Lake Biwa" on board
c. "Post-boarding learning" after boarding

3. Questions and comments

4. Message from Nicaraguan participants

5. Message from JICA Nicaragua

During the first "Shiga Uminoko" webinar last year, teachers from the Shiga Floating School introduced different scientific experiment contents to understand the aquatic environment of Lake Biwa. After this webinar, Nicaraguan officials implemented the Nicaraguan version of "Uminoko" for the first time, adapting it to Nicaragua's needs and conditions, hence "Uminoko," was highly accepted in the country.

In this second webinar, in addition to last year's "onboard" science experiments, a series of "before" and "after" educational content was also explained, with specific topics and experiments.

It was also mentioned that more than 40% of the population of Shiga Prefecture has experienced Uminoko, therefore, the children who started the program are now 50 years old, and that over its long history, Uminoko has been established as a safe, secure, and educational learning ship.

Next, the "pre-boarding" study was explained. The students are taught on specific themes such as "fish" and "plankton," and the students are asked to find out what they can do to protect the lake. At this stage, they will talk about the good points of Lake Biwa, whether the water is clean or dirty, the situation of pollution in the lake 50 years ago, and the decrease in the number of fish due to the overgrowth of waterweeds and garbage.

It was also explained that the "on-board" learning experience includes several observations and experiments to "pay attention to the living creatures of Lake Biwa" and provide an opportunity to think about the water of Lake Biwa. During the webinar, a demonstration of the "Lake Biwa Water Clarity Survey" was shown on the screen, explaining how many years it takes for the clarity of polluted water to recover. It was explained that it is important for people to "realize" that the water has become cleaner as a result of people's efforts.

Finally, in the "post-boarding" class, students are asked to reflect on their "on-boarding" learning and organize their thoughts (in the form of study newspapers, sticky notes, survey results, etc.), in order to answer the question, "What actions are needed for humans to coexist with the beautiful lake and its inhabitants? The content of the study was designed so that each student could give his or her own answer to the question, "What actions are necessary for humans to coexist with beautiful lakes and the living creatures that live in them?

After this presentation, a Nicaraguan teacher asked a question regarding theme selection, such as, "At what stage do you decide on the theme for the onboard learning and when do you communicate the theme to the students? The Shiga Floating School responded, "The teachers consider, select, and prepare the theme in the pre-boarding stage, and the study lessons begin before the students board the ship.

By Managua City Hall, the organizer of the Nicaraguan version of Uminoko, said, "I think the educational content of Uminoko for the conservation of Lake Biwa is wonderful because it includes systematic and practical scientific content, including past, present, and future perspectives. We would like to follow the example of Lake Biwa and continue the project for 25 years. I will make every effort to report back to you after the second "Umi-noko" project," she said enthusiastically.

Finally, Mr. Takasago, Representative of JICA Nicaragua Office, gave the following words of encouragement: "I would like to send my best wishes to everyone involved in Nicaragua for the implementation of the Nicaraguan version of Uminoko. I hope that this program will be continued in Nicaragua for the next 25 years, following the 40-year experience of Shiga Prefecture, and that it will be handed down to future generations for a long time to come."

photoUminoko, a boarding type learning boat with a theme of Lake Biwa conservation, boasts a 40-year history in Shiga Prefecture.

photoExplanation of "Uminoko" background and history from Shiga Floating School.

photoExperiment demonstration of lake water transparency by a teacher from Shiga Floating School.

photoExperiment of water pollution recovery aboard the "Umi-noko.

photoMessage of thanks from Managua City Hall to Shiga Floating School

photoGroup photo of "Uminoko" webinar participants.


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