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December 2010

Environmental Education at Schools in Masasi

Normally garbage is burned near residences.

In order to improve residents' living environment or its residents, Masasi District Council, through its Health Department, periodically undertakes visits to guesthouses and shops to check the cleanliness of such places. Additionally the District Council has the intention to undertake similar visits at the community level from now onwards.

Presently in Masasi town, garbage is scattered at many places, and since the collection system is not functioning even though there are dump trucks which collect garbage, garbage has overflowed the streets.

Moreover, since there are workers who collect garbage, people just do littering. Though the council appeals to business people at shopping streets to install garbage cans, people do not have a custom of using the garbage cans and it seems it will take a long time before people get used to it. The situation in Masasi is still difficult.

In such a background, we decided to start environmental education lessons programme at primary and secondary schools in cooperation with an environmental NGO which contributes much to create clean environment in Mtwara, the regional capital in our region

The purpose of this environmental education programme is to create a clean environment in the centre of Masasi town, and to improve Masasi residents’ consciousness to their health and living environment. By working with an NGO with rich experience in this program, we hope that district health officers of Masasi will learn the technique of performing health environmental education, and can practice such new knowledge in their activities in communities too.

In the classes at schools, we begin from the simple question “What is environment?” Children come to understand that "food, clothing and shelter" is "environment", and that to consider environment is the same as managing one's food, clothing and shelter. Also through discussion, they learn classification of garbage and how to throw away the garbage, methods of lessening garbage and reusing it, and so on.

Now, two months of this three-month programme have finished, and we have visited five primary schools. Considering the concept of "learning happily", we prepare some environmental games and teaching materials, so that students can participate positively in the class.

Students learn about environment by enjoying the game.

For example, in a "classify garbage game", each small group of students gets cards with garbage names such as a "PET bottle" and "a core of an apple", and classifies them to two kinds; "rot" and "not rot". Next, out of the garbage of "not rot", they divide them into "recyclable" and "not recyclable". Then, about "garbage which is classified as not recyclable", students discuss “Is it really not recyclable?" “How can we find the way to reuse it?”, and “How shall we live with garbage which is not recyclable?". After all these exercise, each group presents their opinion and shares it with all students. To my surprise, I found out that students know well how to reuse things, though they have limited knowledge on how to classify garbage.

Since this program was started, some students have made signboards saying "keep clean our environment!", and some have started activity of planting trees. I am happy to see students and teachers beginning to get interested in environmental issues. Although only one month remains before the programme comes to an end, I would like to visit as many schools as possible and use such visit as a basis for planning future activity.

(Ms. Yumi Koyama, JOCV for Environmental Education, Masasi District Council)

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