Teacher Training in Environmental Education
The MFG's education initiative began in 1990 by offering classes and tours focused on Parc Ivoloina Zoo's animal collection. It quickly became evident to our education team that the local schools were unable to reinforce or sustain the environmental messages children received from their school trips to Parc Ivoloina's Conservation Education Center (CEE). Despite encouragement from the Ministry of Education to have environmental education integrated into classroom curriculum, teachers often lacked the educational background to develop lesson plans on Madagascar's diverse plants and animals, varied habitats and environmental problems facing the island.
In response, the MFG organized and collaborated with a team of 40 Tamatave school district officials and teachers to produce a 65-page manual in Malagasy and French titled "Guide Pratique du Maitre: l'Application de l'Education Environnementale dans l'Enseignement Primaire" (A Practical Guide for the Teacher: the Application of Environmental Education in Primary School Instruction). The Guide included information on different types of habitats, ecological processes, Madagascar's biodiversity, maps showing the island's varying landscapes and ideas for classroom activities. The Guide’s subject modules were directly linked to the teaching modules of the national primary school curriculum, by grade, subject, topic and lesson. A draft was piloted and evaluated in eight schools providing valuable feed-back that led to further refinements. In May 2001 the Guide was officially validated by Madagascar's Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
Over the next two-years the MFG introduced the Guide to teachers and trained them in its use. A total of 420 teachers from 181 schools in the Toamasina Region attended the workshops and were given copies of the guide. During workshop evaluations, the teachers and school administrators overwhelmingly agreed that the Guide was the most valuable environmental education resource they had. The MFG thanks Dr. Bud and Onnolee Trapp whose generous grant funded the entire program.
Education Heros: Andre Ratsimbazafy (left) and Gimod Ramahavory (right) were instrumental in developing, implementing, evaluating and improving the MFG's education programs from their inception. Their passion and commitment to Madagascar's children and environment proved unyielding. Sadly, Gimod has passed away, but he will be remembered for all the lives he touched.
Beginning in 2004, the MFG developed annual continuing education workshops for the “Chef ZAPs" (Zone d”Action Pedagogique- head of the local school district) to provide them with tools to reinforce the training their teachers received and to train new teachers. In addition, the workshops serve to update the Chef ZAPs on environmental issues of concern, present new conservation concepts or practices that can be incorporated into their districts’ lesson plans, review the use of the Teacher’s Guide with new examples and practical activities, and assess district needs for additional teacher training.