Palawan Teachers Eager to Promote Environmental EducationCatch of the Week
Science and social studies teachers in the Philippines are excited to promote environmental education after successfully completing an in-service training (INSET) program on climate change adaptation and coastal resources management.
These secondary school teachers are now more confident in initiating societal change as researchers and educators at the end of the training organized by the ADB regional technical assistance, Coral Triangle Initiative Southeast Asia (CTI-SEA), from 27 to 30 September 2014 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines.
Most valuable allies for social change
The three-day training strengthened the commitment to teach among high school teachers while building a network of environmental advocates. The teachers learned of the basic knowledge on coastal ecosystems, coastal resource management strategies, climate change, fishery and environmental laws, local threatened species, and investigative research.
“Here in Palawan, there are a lot of issues concerning the environment. For example, dynamite fishing. Our teachers must be appropriately informed so that they may be able to suggest and share solutions to address these,” said Editha Torrente, Education Program Supervisor for Science Secondary of the Department of Education, Palawan.
Investing in developing the research skills and awareness of teachers in environmental conservation can help produce better-educated children and in turn, a more socially and naturally conscious community. Essentially, partnership with educational institutions will affect social good.
Multiplying knowledge, addressing local environmental issues
The Department of Education expects that the teachers’ research studies and echo trainings will create more than information ripples but waves of action among localities.
“We expect the teachers to conduct echo trainings so that whatever insights they have gained will be multiplied in their communities. We will be issuing a memorandum requiring this,” said Ms. Torrente.
Research that will be conducted by the teachers may impact current initiatives or provide a framework for future activities that will address environmental issues. In the same way, educators have a direct influence on young students on the value and proper management of natural resources.
One exercise on the estimation of personal carbon contribution or footprint introduced by Climate Change Specialist, Dr. Rosa T. Perez, piqued the interest of many participants. They were surprised that most of the seemingly harmful daily activities — from riding a tricycle to school, to eating meat — can sum up to a large carbon footprint.
“I was challenged when I learned [about this]. Last year, I was diagnosed with hypertension, so I guess I should reduce meat consumption and start walking to school to reduce my carbon footprint,” shared Ma. Dona Dalumpines, science teacher from Central Taytay National High School.
Developing confidence to tackle research scenarios
To help improve the participant’s research skills, Dr. Roger Dolorosa, Associate Professor at the College of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences of Western Philippines University, discussed the principles of research, research process, and methodologies. The teachers also engaged in practical exercises using statistical programs such as Microsoft Excel and Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. The participants considered these exercises very useful.
“This training is very important for us because there has been a low participation in the division science fair. Now that they have technical skills to conduct research, we hope that there will be more schools that will submit research proposals in the next years,” said Ms. Torrente.
As main training output, the teachers were grouped according to geographical area and common environmental issues. The groups worked on research proposals, which tackled marine turtle nesting grounds, freshwater turtle population; potential seaweed culture sites; coliform levels in tourist spots; student lifestyle and carbon footprint; salt-water intrusion; coral gardening; and seaweed as fertilizer, among others.
Department of Education Palawan conducts an annual science fair wherein investigatory research projects submitted by schools are evaluated and sent to compete in regional, national, and international science fairs.
Rina Ticzon, an economics teacher from PSU Laboratory High School, admitted that the training helped her decide to continue pursuing a teaching career. The program made her realize the importance of environmental education and research to social studies and even to society itself.
“I think the usual understanding is that research is exclusive to science teachers [but it is not]. I think I won’t be backing out from teaching anymore. I’ll teach again,” she shared.
Other collaborators and lecturers during the training were Raul G. Roldan, fisheries expert and CTI-SEA Philippine Deputy Team Leader, Dr. Benjamin Gonzales, Coastal and Marine Resources Management Specialist, and Levita Lagrada of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.
The INSET program is part of the Bayani ng Kalikasan communication campaign developed by CTI-SEA. The program aims to develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence teachers in managing their coastal and marine resources.
Palawan is endowed with a wide range of coastal and marine resources that provide communities with livelihood and protection to natural hazards. However, climate change, unsustainable use, and poor management are now threatening these resources.
(Story and photos courtesy of CTI-SEA)