Thursday, January 30, 2014

The introduction of MAP’s Marvellous Mangroves Curriculum to Kenya

The Mangrove Action Project’s (MAP’s) Education Director, Martin Keeley, met with teachers and scientists in December 2013, in Shimoni and Wasini Island , southeastern Kenya, following an initial introduction through Global Volunteers International (GVI) in Kenya.

Mr. Keeley spent several days in Shimoni, in southeastern Kenya, and explored the region’s mangroves, in particular those on Wasini Island. During this process he was assisted by Faridi Mshamanga, the GVI boat captain, who facilitated the meetings with the various educators who were not away on vacation! During this time work was initiated to develop a work-plan and establish a small working group that would initially comprise the following personnel. The members of the potential working group were met and introduced to the curriculum concept. All expressed great interest in Marvellous Mangroves and its introduction to Kenya.

Shimoni Primary School:  Principal Hannah M. Paul; Chief Teacher and Ecologist: Harold Ouma Amolo
Wasini Island Primary School: Principal Imamu Dossa; teachers Ali Omar and Hussein Mashee.
Mkwiro Primary School (Wasini Island); Principal Aboulbast Ahmed Aububakar
Mangrove expert and author/researcher Ruga Bakari.

Resources for the adaptation of the curriculum for Kenya were reviewed, especially the English version of Marvellous Mangroves for Belize, and a variety of suggestions for adaptations were planned. It was generally agreed that the translation process into Swahili should be undertaken.

The Womens’ Co-operative which runs the huge boardwalk in Wasini Island would also be involved in the eco-tourism component of the Kenya Marvellous Mangroves. Dr. James Kairo, a founding member of MAP’s board of advisors, would be involved on research aspects, although attempts to meet with him were unsuccessful during this trip.

There is a need to establish a local partner in Kenya that will be MAP’s main partner in that country. We are hoping that this partner could be GVI which has a long established community education role in the region.

The working group needs to be finalised with  several experts who were unavailable being on vacation during the Christmas/New Year’s break. These would include Mr. Jillo Katello of the Kenya Wildlife Service who would provide input on the terrestrial and aquatic wildlife found in local mangroves.

The structure of Marvellous Mangroves in Kenya would follow the same process as previous adaptations/translations:

There are five major units which are all inter-related:
All about mangroves
Mangroves as habitat
Human impacts on mangroves
Exploring mangroves
Making change.

Each unit contains the following:
An introduction containing factual and detailed background information
Fact sheets and accompanying illustrations
Several supporting hands-on activities with detailed instructions and full lesson plans
Illustrations to support the activities

In addition, three new sections will be added: one on restoration, a second on water quality testing and a third on ecotourism following the criteria developed for Belize. These could also be researched and upgraded to senior secondary school and junior college level. The same criteria will also be applied to other sections of the adaptation.

An artist will be brought in to complete the necessary illustrations for the flora and fauna of Kenya’s nine species of mangroves.  It will then be edited, a final draft completed, and printed. The process of the development of the Kenya translation and adaptation of Marvellous Mangroves would follow the pattern established in other countries where the project has been successfully introduced. This would be as follows:
A full review of Marvellous Mangroves in Belize to see which areas are appropriate for Kenya.
Initiation of translation of Marvellous Mangroves in Belize into Swahili to speed up the final production
A resource search for existing resource materials available on related flora and fauna.
New flora and fauna added and changed.
Localisation of mangroves by Mr. Ruga Bakari.
Review of availability of workshop/activities materials re: cost to teachers etc.
New illustrations.
Review by marine scientists
Review by local teachers including classroom testing some of the activities.
Review by editors.

Following the publication of the curriculum, MAP, in conjunction with the local NGO/Government partner  (GVI) and the members of the working group, will host 40-50 teachers at a “train the trainer” pilot event led by MAP Education Director Keeley and local teachers and held at a location preferably close to Wasini Island and Shimoni. The first of the three workshops in would be held in Shimoni or a location like the Mkwiro Village Hall on Wasini Island. This first large workshop will likely entail bringing in teachers from other parts of the region.

At this workshop the curriculum is formally introduced and teachers are shown how to conduct the activities, as well as how to use the resource guide, of which they each receive a copy to take back to their classrooms – together with materials that will enable them to carry out the activities. An extensive mangrove field trip is held at the end of the workshop (possibly to the Women’s Co-operative Mkwiro boardwalk) so teachers can apply their knowledge in the field.

The teacher training activity will also serve to train future workshop facilitators.  As the demand for MAP’s Mangrove Curriculum grows, it has become apparent that Mr. Keeley cannot personally attend all of the requests for workshops.  It is therefore crucial to build local and regional capacity to facilitate workshops, that is, train the trainers.  With this objective in mind, local education and GVI outreach officers would assist in the workshop, and will help facilitate the workshops to be held in in following years, thus learning how to be able to give the workshops themselves in the future. Teachers attending the first workshop will also assist.

During the full workshop a larger group of local teachers will be selected – in addition to the ones who have already conducted trial lessons – and these will become the local core group. The MAP Education Director will also work closely with the local teachers and GVI staff to assist teachers with implementing the curriculum in their classrooms. Teachers who take the workshop are certified as Mangrove Educators. Suggested additional follow-up includes such things as competitions and awards to further support the continuation of the program. MAP’s experience with introducing the curriculum in developing countries shows that this contact is extremely valuable in assuring the project’s continuing success and implementation.

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