Intervention | Environmental Education
This section takes us through the formal and informal approaches we have taken towards improving the quality of environmental education in the islands
Formal approaches to building an integrated environmental education curriculum
Dakshin Foundation’s education work in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) has been centred around the presence of the Andaman Nicobar Environment Team (ANET) research base in Wandoor, South Andaman.
In order to improve the understanding and appreciation of the islands’ natural resources, ANET and Kalpavriksh came together in 1996 to create a place-based and contextual environmental education teachers’ training manual called ‘Treasured Islands’. Designed and produced by Sunita Rao of Kalpavriksh, Treasured Islands was created both in English and in Hindi (2nd edition), to help teachers of the islands initiate environmental awareness among students, encouraging them to take an active interest in conserving the islands’ diversity, history and culture.
After the 2010 order from the Supreme Court of India to infuse environmental education with mainstream education programmes, a circular was issued by the Directorate of Education in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands making environmental education mandatory in all schools and it recommended Treasured Islands as a resource book. Dakshin Foundation, along with ANET and a host of contributors (teachers, administrators, facilitators and many others), took this opportunity to update the existing book and align it with the CBSE curriculum. This 3rd edition of Treasured Islands was redesigned by the students of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and aims to serve as a contextualising environmental education through Place-based education in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands within the framework of the school curriculum. This book is currently in the process of being formalised by the Directorate of Education.
Place-based education is a form of integrated pedagogy that is rooted in local contexts while facilitating systems thinking, problem-solving and celebrating diversity. It is the sharing of local knowledge and learnings across stakeholders and scales.
What is Place-based education?
Our Place-based education locates the child as nested within spheres of parents, teachers and the school which are in turn nested within the larger ecological, cultural and socio-political systems. And hence, the Place-based model of education becomes a tool to facilitate education using natural and social ecosystems as learning aids, toward building a generation of environmentally and socially conscious decision-makers. Such a model will empower stakeholders to make informed decisions/choices by jointly unpacking the spectrum of human-environment relations.
Place-based Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Education
The environmental education engagements began by designing Place-based environmental content for children and schools such as the Treasured Islands. We soon realised that Treasured Islands had nuanced information about the environment that was inaccessible to many children as they had not attained Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN). FLN is broadly conceptualised as a child’s ability to read basic texts with meaning and solve basic maths calculations by the end of Class 3.
Thus in 2017, through the support of Wipro Applying Thought in Schools (WATIS), we began the ‘Islands of Wisdom’ project to strengthen FLN through Place-based education for children and expand the capacities of the community teachers in delivering the same.
Educational outreach material
A-Z picture cards, the fauna of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Some live on land, some live in the ocean. These cards are designed for readers across abilities. Each card has an illustration of an animal on one side along with an alphabet. On the flip side, the cards contain three facts about these animals. These picture cards will also serve as supplemental material for the Treasured Islands book.
These cards are designed and Illustrated by Subhadra Sridharan, a student at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru during her internship at Dakshin Foundation in 2021.
These cards may be accessed as a PDF and downloaded by using the links below –
This content is under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA terms. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit Dakshin Foundation and Subhadra Sridharan and license their new creations under the identical terms
The Islands of Wisdom
ANET & Dakshin, in collaboration with WIPRO Applying Thought in Schools executed the Islands of Wisdom project, an after-school learning programme for students from classes 3, 4 and 5 in the Wandoor Panchayat, South Andaman. This project aimed at building a holistic approach to education in order to strengthen foundational learning and to make education contextualised and place-based, thereby helping students effectively deal with the demands of the school curriculum. The programme provided a safe space where the students experienced the coming together of learning and play. The learning framework focused on language, comprehension and expression skills through innovative teaching and learning methods. By employing learning level appropriate, contextualised, and hands-on activities, students were encouraged to explore concepts individually and in a manner that cuts across traditional subject boundaries. The methodologies employed and the principles followed aimed at developing independent thinkers and curious learners with a strong sense of appreciation for the environment. To this end, the content used at our centre is developed in-house and through studying the work of organisations with similar goals. Since 2017, many have worked on the Islands of Wisdom project including Karishma Modi, Aplonia Topno, Moumita Bhowmik, Mahira Kakajiwala and Sadaf Sethwala. The project was supervised by Dr. Naveen Namboothri.