CERTAIN students in Grand Bahama will have an extra school day when they return to class in January – and no one is complaining.
The students from public and private schools will participate in a four-month hands-on programme designed to teach the impact on the environment resulting from habitat loss, pollution, unregulated development, invasive species and climate change.
A combination of classes, field trips and studies every other Saturday and open to students in grades 7-9, the programme is a joint effort between Save The Bays and EARTHCARE.
Representatives from both environmental organisations explained the programme to the Grand Bahama Principals Association.
“Save The Bays and EARTHCARE are looking forward to working with the schools on Grand Bahama to share this important information with local students who will become the stewards of our environment for the future generations to come,” said Joseph Darville, a retired principal who serves as education officer for Save The Bays, the fast-growing environmental movement that has garnered more than 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for an Environmental Protection Act.
In the eight months since its launch, Save The Bays has raised environmental awareness throughout the Bahamas, partly through its legal actions and in part by forming partnerships with long-standing environmental associations and groups like EARTHCARE, formed as an NGO in 1988 with a focus providing environmental education for students and teachers at the primary, secondary and tertiary level.
Founder Gail Woon, a marine scientist and educator, said the programme designed for Grand Bahama students will rely on the Youth Environmental Ambassadors between 20 and 35 years old who have been trained to teach.
Classes will include an hour of information followed by a field trip that could take participants into the wetlands to study the growth and critical role of mangroves or out into the ocean to observe ocean acidification.
“Our goal for the 2013/2014 school year is to provide environmental education around issues such as habitat loss, invasive species, coastal management, pollution, unsustainable fishing methods, and various aspects of biology, physics and chemistry that are seen in the Bahamian natural environment,” she said.