Environmental education in the Bolivian Amazon Requested by the indigenous people and the town of Rurrenabaque in the Bolivian Amazon, in 2013 Amazon Fund started to support an environmental education project.
Destruction of the rainforest: a threathening reality
The rainforests of Bolivia are threathened by illegal logging, forest fires, road construction and the development of large-scale sugar cane plantations. The livehood of indigenous people has come under pressure and as ecotourism is an important source of income, they see the destruction of the rainforest and its biodiversity as a major threat. Through practical nature and environmental education, future generations learn about the value of nature and the need to protect the rainforest and its environment.
School gardens for primary schools It is recognised that school gardens are a very suitable way to teach young children about nature. Planting, sowing, weeding and harvesting their own vegetables, fruits and herbs and cook their home-grown food brings children in touch with their environment. In 2013, 310 schoolchildren from 4 primary schools participated in the school garden program and in 2014 over 420 schoolchildren from 21 classes took part. In addition, 88 teachers participated in practical workshops, along with parents from 80 families. The enthusiasm proved contagious; with the fresh produce, healthy school meals were prepared and some schools were able to market part of the harvest. The school garden programme is guided by our Bolivian partner Alerta Verde.
Fieldwork for secondary schools
Students from secondary schools go to the rainforest and learn from indigenous guides about the functioning of the rainforests, the interaction of flora and fauna and the value and need to protect the rainforest ecosystems. They learn to recognize medicinal plants and the function of the rainforest to provide drinking water. In 2013, 63 students, 6 teachers and 6 parents from 3 schools participated in this program. Another 80 pupils and eight teachers participated in classroom lessons. In 2014, 285 students took part in the fieldwork program. Most activities took place in the land of our indigenous partner San Miguel del Bala and the Jaquareté wildlife refuge. Moreover, each school developed additional practical activities as socio-productive projects required by a new law on education and supported by Amazon Fund. The fieldwork programme has been guided by Annelies and Dolf Andringa, two Dutch biologists specialized in fieldwork volunteering the project.
Results The activities of the project in 2013 and 2014 resulted in a functional basis for practical environmental education at primary and secondary schools in Rurrenabaque. More needs to be done though and in 2015 Amazon Fund will continue to support the project. Emphasis will be on consolidation, the further development of a manual with teaching materials and experiences to be published on the website: leccionesamazonicas.org The ultimate objective of the project is that environmental education becomes part of the regular curriculum.