‘Young people need nature, and nature needs young people’
BirdLife Malta in collaboration with the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education yesterday organised the Lifelong Learning through Nature concluding seminar which was held at Blata l-Bajda Middle School.
In support of this partnership, the event was attended by Malta’s Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo, who addressed the seminar, saying “this work is extremely important; getting out into the natural environment for learning experiences is vital and it shouldn’t just happen once a year for a field trip. A significant next step will be to get this work accredited to recognise how important it is, and there are further areas that we can look to develop next, for example after-school clubs, which will extend the amount of time when students have the opportunity to benefit from such programmes.”
Lifelong Learning through Nature came about due to the realisation that young people need nature and nature needs young people. It is vital for conservation that we make a positive change in young people’s knowledge, attitude and behaviour so that they grow up realising the need to protect the world around them and live sustainably.
The project has focused on developing resources for environmental and sustainable development education and has worked with age groups from early years to post-secondary to engage them through formal and non-formal education. During the seminar, attended by educators and educational officials, college principals and heads of school, these resources were presented by a wide range of speakers who have been involved in development and implementation.
One initiative which will be launched this scholastic year is a partnership between BirdLife Malta and Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology which has seen the collaborative development of two new Learning Objectives related to environmental sustainability.
Speaking about the initiative Daniela Psaila, Science Coordinator at MCAST said, “Building an awareness of the natural environment and sustainable development within our students is very important as it is relevant to everyone no matter what subject they study or career path they chose.”
Another key element of the project has been a research study delivered in collaboration with the University of Malta, the results of which were presented at the half-day seminar. The findings from this research have provided documented evidence to show how vital connection with nature and outdoor education are for health, well-being and education. This knowledge and expertise is now being shared by the three international project partners to support implementation in their own and other European countries. The project aims to achieve these objectives by enhancing transnational cooperation between education and training providers and other stakeholders.
BirdLife Malta’s Education Manager Hannah Chisholm said: “By working together we can share best practice and learn from each other to develop transferable resources suitable for the different age groups”.
This project has highlighted that Malta, being a small country where new initiatives can be implemented at a national scale with relative ease, can also be used as a testing ground for such projects in which the results can then be shared and adopted by other countries after being evaluated.