Centre ValBio hosted over 50 guests from January 18 to 20 for the My Rainforest My World (MRMW) Second Quarter Workshop. MRMW was recently added to CVB’s ongoing conservation education initiative in October, and it focuses on teaching fourth grade students from the remote villages surrounding Ranomafana National Park about the importance of the environment and the impact that they have on the world around them. The program reflects CVB’s mission to create a sustainable movement in Madagascar by directly involving the community in all aspects of the center’s conservation efforts.
Ten intern teachers trained with education professionals to learn the curriculum developed by educators in the United States, and then they set out to ten different remote villages, each of which are several hour hikes from any main road. The program caters to fourth grade classes, which includes children from ages 8 to 15 years old. After regular classes end around 1 p.m., the program provides fourth grade with school lunch, and then the intern teacher leads an hour long lesson on topics such as hygiene, climate, and the importance of biodiversity.
The students are also responsible for hands on learning projects and presenting the projects to the community at the end of each quarter. Over the first teaching quarter, the four-person MRMW team lead by Lovasoa Razafindravony visited each of the ten remote schools to watch the students’ quarterly presentations, and then they meet with the teachers and parents to analyze the program’s impact on the community. Stony Brook University Senior Sociology major Alessandra Reed spent her internship with CVB visiting some of the schools with the team and organizing activities and materials for the second quarter workshop.
At the three day workshop, the ten intern teachers as well as the ten fourth grade teachers from each school met at CVB along with Dr. Patricia Wright, the Mayor of Ranomafana, and a team of education experts including Daniella Rabino, an American PhD candidate from the University of Sussex who played a large role in developing the program. The majority of the workshop consisted of the experts teaching the intern teachers the material for the second quarter of the school year, but they also dedicated time for the intern teachers to discuss their experiences and challenges during their first quarter and share different teaching techniques and games.
When asked about the future of MRMW, Rabino stated, “I hope that as we get our feet wet, and continue to work with these communities, not only will it continue to expand to more villages, but the program will keep getting stronger and new elements will be added that will make it possible for people to create their own projects that they want to do, so that the teachers and the children will work together to see projects through.”
So far, the program has proven to be quite successful, and the parents and children of the remote villages have made requests to expand MRMW to all primary school grades. The MRMW team plans to expand the program to 20 schools by next year, and to 34 schools the year after.