There is a long list of contributing factors that are degrading the mangroves on a daily basis: lack of public awareness, illegal poaching and logging, industrial pollution, urbanization, unplanned mega projects, unwise resource collection by the traders, frequent natural disasters, irresponsible tourism, commercial shrimp farming, excessive use of chemicals in agriculture and absence of participatory forest management.
Education on the ecology and importance of the mangroves is vital for conservation and sustainable use of the mangrove forest. But the schools’ national curriculum does not place enough importance on mangrove ecology. So, the previous and current generations have grown up with very little sensitivity of the mangroves and its biodiversity. There are also severe problems involving the typical learning process, which follows a strict text-based lecture method without any practical or hands-on scientific activities.
Students can play a vital role to change the direction from destruction to the dream of ecological bounty and health. Recognizing the potential role of students as social advocates, CLEAN formed Mangrove Clubs in 7 secondary schools in the Sundarbans adjacent areas. The clubs motivate the students to study science; to protect the Sundarbans mangrove forest; to build awareness within and beyond their communities and ultimately to implement the Marvelous Mangroves Curriculum to build an environmentally-friendly and conscious future generation.
Mangrove Club is a way to lead active children and adolescent students towards conservation education. it is a mission to create a new generation that is environmentally-sensitive, knowledge-based and conscious citizens. It is a structure which allows students to play the role of a scientist, a teacher and a conservation activist.
Students from ages 11-16 (Class-VI to X) are at the centre of Mangrove Clubs. Any of them can join in the club by filling-out a prescribed application with membership dues of only Taka 10.00 (USD 0.12), and by taking an oath to conserve their local environment – especially mangroves. The members elect 9-11 Club Team members with one senior student playing the role of Captain together with two Vice Captains. At least one representative from each class must be part of the Team. The Team members help their teachers to facilitate Mangrove Education in and out of classrooms as co-facilitators. Three teachers facilitate the Mangrove Clubs as Educators. The Headmaster or Principal of the institution takes the honorary position of Patron of the Club.
Learning basic science related to the national curriculum in and out of classrooms. This includes:
- Recognizing and knowing mangrove microorganisms, and related flora and fauna, soil and water;
- Making presentations on mangroves in their school and to other students;
- Organizing regular discussion, debate, art competition, knowledge games, essay competitions and other programs on mangroves and wetlands in the schools.
- Visiting mangrove forests periodically for observation, hands-on knowledge and research purposes;
- Meeting media to inform them about education techniques and their research findings on mangrove forest and wetlands;
- Celebrating national and international days related with wetlands, mangroves and environment to build awareness in their communities;
- Working in their own communities to educate families, friends and community leaders on the importance of mangroves including their unique characteristics;
- Taking action on any disastrous situation including serious pollution in mangroves;
- Building the awareness of tourists about the role and importance of mangrove forests;
- Establishing databases for water quality, plant and animal species types and number, etc. plus ongoing data collection as part of the monitoring process;
- Gathering information on threatened and endangered species and take action to protect them;
Currently 3,357 students and 117 teachers are involved with Mangrove Clubs; and the number is increasing!
Mangrove Clubs are formed and working in seven schools of Sundarbans adjacent areas. The schools are:
- Abul Hossain Girls High School, Dacope, Khulna
- Belphulia Islamia High School, Rupsa, Khulna
- Channir Chak LC Collegiate School, Koyra, Khulna
- Comrade Ratan Sen Collegiate Girls School, Rupsa, Khulna
- Laudob-Badamtala High School, Dacope, Khulna
- Surkhali High School, Batiaghata, Khulna
- TA Faruq Collegiate School, Mongla, Bagerhat
2. Article on Mangrove Club by Louis Warner