‘Young peo­ple need na­ture, and na­ture needs young peo­ple’

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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