Don’t Forget the Teachers

By Petrus Kanisius, Environmental Education Media  Officer

While our Environmental Education program has developed to reach all students from elementary school to Master’s students through puppet shows, lectures, field trips, mentorships, support and scholarships, we also reach out to an often overlooked target demographic for conservation education: teachers!

Group presentation on teaching methods to convey local biodiversity to students.

In October, we held the long-awaited Teacher Training workshop that aims to help teachers incorporate environmental sciences into the classroom. This year’s event builds upon the success of last year’s teacher training workshop by doubling the number of participants from 30 to 62! By collaborating with local NGO, the ASRI Foundation, and the Regional Education Department of Kayong Utara, we were able to pool our resources to provide a bigger and more interactive workshop, and reach more teachers from remote schools.

Teachers modeling the bespoke tote bag they received upon arrival (features logos of GPOCP, ASRI and our donors for the event: Arcus Foundation, Woodland Park Zoo and Conservation, Food & Health).

The workshop was held at ASRI’s health clinic on the border of Gunung Palung National Park, providing the perfect mountainous rainforest backdrop for the event. ASRI was also able to help provide accommodation for those participants who had traveled very far (a few teachers took a 4-hour speed boat down the river to get to the workshop!)
The participants included teachers and principals from elementary schools all the way to high schools. The Head of the Kayong Utara Education Office, Mr. Muhammad Irvan, opened the event – showing the participants that bringing environmental science into the classroom is openly encouraged and supported by the local government.

The first day of the two-day workshop started with the introduction of materials related to environmental education and group sharing of what methods are currently used. The afternoon consisted of a field trip to the nearby forest near Pulau Datok Beach to investigate the teaching resource merits of the flora and fauna itself. During the field trip, the participants were split into groups and encouraged to look for various ideas, inspirational teaching materials related to the environment or the surrounding biodiversity. The groups then presented their findings and ideas, and all individuals had the opportunity to provide input to each group, followed by a discussion of what teaching methods each school has already tried-and-tested and how to enrich them.

One of the groups during the field trip to collect inspirational teaching material from the outdoors.

The next day was dotted with activities led by the fantastic facilitator Mr. Mas’ud Effendi from the Pasakt Baktiku Institute. Teachers were able to express ideas, plans and thoughts related to creative, interactive and fun teaching methods and how to best apply them to their respective schools.
While the goal for this workshop was to increase teacher capacities in content and material by incorporating environmental sciences and utilizing natural resources around the schools and district as a medium and teaching resource for students, the workshop also strongly developed the teaching process itself. The workshop created an open platform for schools in the Kayong Utara district to communicate and coordinate with each other about how they can actively participate in efforts to preserve the environment. Participant testimonials also happily reported that the teachers felt re-energized and motivated to try out new teaching methods and incorporate the course material. During the last day of the event, the teachers were also encouraged to join in creating the follow-up monitoring of participants to see if they are successful in implementing environmental education material in their schools.

The field trip to the local forest to experience and bring the learning contents to life was a big hit!

GPOCP Program Director, Victoria Gehrke said, ”GPOCP works to educate and build awareness at all levels of the educational system to fundamentally change the understanding and behavior towards orangutans in the Gunung Palung landscape. We are very grateful that so many schools and teachers could participate this year, and thankful to ASRI for their big support. I look forward to seeing the follow-up with the teachers and how they have successfully incorporated the new material, concepts and techniques in their curriculum.”

Group photo of Teacher Training Workshop with participants, ASRI Executive Director, GPOCP Program Director and Head of Education Department of Kayong Utara.

We are so grateful for the support of our followers, our funders for this activity (Arcus Foundation, Woodland Park Zoo and Conservation, Food & Health), the ASRI Foundation and our amazing staff for their hard work!