The Mamanuca Environment Society main objective is to promote and encourage sound environment management practices with the goal being the sustainability of the fragile marine and terrestrial environment. One of the areas the organization is spearheading is to deliver education program for resort staff, tourist operators, resource owners and commercial users. Over the years of establishment, the Society have been focusing on village school education only at Primary school level in our island communities namely Namamanuca Primary School, Mana SDA School and Malolo District School.

This month MES has reached another milestone in introducing the Yaubula Education programme ‘yaubula means to natural resources’ to preschool students with age range from 3-5 years old in the two villages Yaro and Tavua. The organization has embraced and worked on a focal area of education program is conservation of natural resources by integrating Ridge to reef approach that addressing issues of Waste Management, Reforestation, Marine conservation, Endangered Species protection to name a few. According to the MES Project Manager, Environment Education in Fiji is only introduced in Primary school level and there is a great need for Early Childhood education sector to introduce the basis of environment education at this level particularly for island community as they are most vulnerable community to both human activities and natural changes. The programme will also adequately prepare the children to better understand the changing environment how they can act today in sustainably manage natural resources for the future.

She added that the team is passionate in creating awareness through outreach programme with the village communities to complement the efforts of resort members in establishing best environment practices for the tourism industry and support community livelihood. This programme will also allow Early childhood educators to build capacity as environment education coverage is limited in teacher training courses and also an area that will motivate parents and active community participation in small scale projects that the students will work on within this programme.

Village consultation was conducted over two months and meetings held with the preschool teachers and school committee. ‘When this programme was discussed with the village headmen and teachers we received overwhelming response’ said Filomena, MES Environment Education officer. According to Vilimoni Naitau a Yaro villager, member of Ketenamasi clan and Duty Manager at Likuliku Lagoon Resort he said, “I am happy that the organization has thought of developing this environment programme for the young village children of Navatalesau”. We have received recommendation and gained support also from Ahura Group Resorts for the weekly environment programme in Navatalesau Yaro Kindergarten and hope to build working partnership in small projects such as coral planting, tree planting with the school and the Malolo Kids Club.

The programme kicked off at Navatalesau Kindergarten in Yaro Village today where students were taught the basics of Ridge to Reef Conservation.

A total of fourteen students were present during the first environment class in Navatalesau Kindergarten and was facilitated by Ilisapeci Sokidi MES Project officer. Her first time experience teaching children this young was very encouraging as they eagerly voiced their opinion and shared experiences and observations of human activities done around their village setting as Introduction of Ridge to Reef approach was covered using Picture base natural resource management flip charts. Following the short presentation and discussion, students were provided with papers and coloring sheet and discuss learning outcome before group presentation. According to Ilisapeci that more picture base activities, environment coloring books, story books and dramas, DVD’s and environment movies should also be part of early childhood learning. The education program will begin in Tavua Kindergarten in October. MES is confident that by targeting the grass roots levels and collaborating with member resorts will further develop the younger generations in the village communities to become future environment stewards and together change mindset and behavioral pattern towards sustaining and better management of the surrounding natural resources.