[Guest Post] Environmental studies in our schools – A Must

Hello everyone!

Here’s a guest post by Yo Nature

Yo Nature (as YOur NAture) is about making the environment of Mauritius everyone’s central interest. We are simply nature lovers, who enjoy salt water in our hair and hiking in the woods. No place is better than little Mauritius, yet few take the time to realize what a beautiful island this really is. We want to change that through our website by providing the right information and encouraging you to care.

We hope that our passion rubs off on you!

Anyone interested to write a post and get some visibility are the most welcomed. Just get in touch with me!

 


Environmental studies in our schools – A Must

Have you ever seen a cute little boy eating crisps and then throw the plastic bag right on the pavement in front of his parents?

Though it may seem natural to some, others may find it quite unnerving for people to act like this in the 21st century. The sad truth is this: most parents do not themselves respect their environments, so they do not see the use in teaching their children to do so.

What is the environment?

Put simply, our environment is everything that surrounds us, both living and non-living. It also refers to the set of conditions within a specific area as well as the interactions between the organisms and the non-living things. Usually, we associate the environment to nature: trees, rivers and rocks. But it is not limited to that; man-made additions are also considered.

Why should kids learn about environmental management?

Some time back, primary schools used to teach Environmental Studies or EVS; now, this has been divided into science, history and geography. Secondary schools teach Environmental Management at SC and HSC levels. Yet, very few schools in Mauritius offer this option.

While we tend to concentrate more on jamming boring science into children’s heads who see no use of it, environmental studies focus more on the outdoors. Cyclonic conditions, flash floods, climate change make more sense.

5 reasons to study environmental science

  1. It offers the opportunity to work outdoors if you don’t like confined spaces and usual 9am-5pm jobs.
  2. Environmental experts have to move from place to place while working on different projects, one week in the mangroves of Mauritius, one week in the mangroves of Kenya. So, there’s the opportunity to travel and actually see different places.
  3. You get to work right on the battlefield. Our environment is in peril today; industrialization and urbanization are not only wiping away what natural habitats we have left but also impacting heavily on them. Experts are needed to help keep these disasters at bay and to mitigate them.
  4. The study of the environment helps to open doors to more job careers. Most companies are going green and the demand for organic food is also increasing. Depending on where you are, your studies will be useful in some way or another.
  5. Working in nature requires passion. What’s at stake, saving whales or protecting forests, though sometimes may be risky, is more important than the pay at the end of the month.

Right now where we are heading is towards massive changes in our climate. Winters do not even feel cold anymore whereas summers feel like you’re being burnt alive. Something is happening around us; our children have to learn and understand this to be able to come up with the right measures and initiatives.

Islands are more threatened by climate change

We heard time and again of the possible effects and consequences of global warming and climate change; few actually realize that the phenomenon is very much happening now. Little Mauritius, in the middle of the sea, is much more threatened compared to large countries. Why?

  1. Sea level rise
    As glaciers melt, sea levels are rising. Maldives, for instance, is expected to be completely inundated by 2085 without appropriate coastal prevention structures [1]. A general rise in sea level by 80 cm is expected by the year 2100.
  2. Extreme weather conditions
    The temperature is increasing as well as the frequency of cyclones. Warmer waters stimulate the formation of cyclones. Is it not a fact that now we have more flash floods and thunderstorms?
  3. Touristic activities
    Tourism is one of the main economic pillars of the island. According to the Bank of Mauritius, the tourism industry has made around Rs 62.5 billion for the year 2018 [2]. Villas are sprouting over the island like mushrooms, at the expense of wetlands. It is, in fact, due to the filling of these wetlands that flooding is becoming such an issue.
  4. Coral reef deterioration
    The reef that surrounds the island protects us from the fiercer waves of the ocean. As the sea gets warmer, coral polyps die because they cannot withstand high temperatures. What’s more, ocean acidification by acid rainwater accelerates the process. With no barrier, Mauritius is exposed to oceanic threats.
  5. Coastal erosion
    Right now, Mauritius has a population of 1.29 million people. From mountain slopes to agricultural land, houses are popping up everywhere. Obviously, more people means more buildings. However, stronger waves, sea level rise, longer lasting and more frequent rainfall, take away coastal land with them. The population will keep on increasing as will the demand for property.
  6. Fisheries
    For the coastal population, fisheries are still a major money source. With changes in the sea conditions, fishes will migrate or will be destroyed by invasive species.
  7. Social instability
    Don’t we all get annoyed that our once public beaches are now getting restricted? With climate change looming over us, the few beaches that are now public will eventually lose their charm. Who wants the eroded beaches? This is an issue that’s already causing social anger.
  8. Loss of money
    Playing around with our fragile environment will eventually yield the results. Mangrove trees are free, building protective structures costs money. Not to say that it will be a blow to the touristic industry once the word gets around that floods throw their tantrum whenever they want and to beware.

Sustainable Mauritius

At the end of the day, all the elements in nature are linked one to another. We have to be prepared for the coming hard years ahead. And it is not with an attitude that money or technology is the answer that we will do that. Where parents fail, teachers take over.

The future is for children; right now, we have to teach them what we know so that they can come up with the right ideas and solutions to survive. Sustainability starts at school.

References:

  1. Union of concerned scientists. Climate Hot Map – Global warming effects around the world. [online] Available at http://www.climatehotmap.org/global-warming-locations/republic-of-maldives.html [Accessed 14th November 2018]
  2. Statistics Mauritius. International Travel and Tourism- 1st Quarter 2018. Publication. [online] Available at http://statsmauritius.govmu.org/English/Publications/Pages/Tourism_1Qtr18.aspx [Accessed 14th November 2018]
  3. Image source : https://pixabay.com/en/learning-school-outdoor-asia-book-1782430/

 

Government steps down, again : Halting distribution of “Repas Chaud” program in ZEP schools

At the time of launch of this program, no restrictions or instructions were provided to caterers about the food and service they need to provide. Is the govt waiting for incidents to happen so that they can bring necessary amendments to improve, playing with the life of innocent students.

food

Hello!

As per the “Repas Chaud” program, about Rs1500 per student is spent monthly in providing food in each ZEP school. The menu distributed included briani, noodles, fried rice and sometimes even dholl pourri. At the time of launch of this program, no restrictions or instructions were provided to caterers about the food and service they need to provide.  Is the govt waiting for incidents to happen so that they can bring necessary amendments to improve, playing with the life of innocent students.

The food poisoning of 90 primary students in the west of the country after having consumed food distributed in their ZEP (Zone Education Prioritaire) school could have turned into a real chaos if the incident had more serious consequences. The permit and contrat to the caterer was immediately suspensed. Unfortunately, deeper analysis in the contents of food from other schools has revealed the presence of a bacteria (“E. coli”).

Yesterday, the Government has finally taken the decision to stop the distribution of “Repas, replacing the distributed food by …. bread, butter and cheese until suitable food caterers satisfying the following criteria are hired:

  • Certified HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points) ;
  • Abiding to strict measures for preparation, transportation and distribution of food
  • Only 300 dishes per caterer

Why the word “Again” in the title?

Do you remember the yellow vehicle license platesfire extinguishers and the Permis à Points? Following the huge confusion and lack of professionalism shown towards the implementation of new license plates, the government finally had to remove any deadlines and nothing is communicated to add any more confusion.

The next big thing? I feel that the free distribution and use of tablets will also be stupidly done. Let’s see…

The country is clearly in wrong hands when you analyse the bad state of things since some months now. I find a big lack of vision and haste in implementing announced measures to prove that the Government is indeed working towards the well-being of the population.

Is there somewhere a fear that they are not working enough to satisfy the demands and needs?

HSC Laureates: No more bonds between them and the country.

This article is an update to what has been written and hugely debated here back in 2009. Many have been able to express themselves on the scholarship topic and the due of the HSC laureates at the end of their studies, financed by the government. And we all know that a considerable number of laureates never came back to Mauritius.

HSC-2012

This article is an update to what has been written and hugely debated here back in 2009. Many have been able to express themselves on the scholarship topic and the due of the HSC laureates at the end of their studies, financed by the government. And we all know that a considerable number of laureates never came back to Mauritius.

Today, the minister of education, Vasant Bunwaree announced that as from this year, the HSC laureates won’t be bonded as in the past. Hence,

  • They won’t have any commitment to come back to serve the country and
  • This also means that they won’t be required to repay back any money the Mauritian government has invested in them, i.e, your money.

Personally, I’m much disgusted by this decision. It does not only encourages the best to work abroad but the government is doing so with our own money. On top of that, the same government will say that the country does not have the necessary expertise and skills, so they need to hire foreigners to manage top-most positions in different organisations. Instead of encouraging them to stay, the government is providing the necessary funds to make them flee the country!

Your thoughts?

Free tablets for Form 4 students. Your thoughts?

A few months ago, you have most probably thought that the government was just blabbering about this project of giving a tablet to each and every Form 4 student. This concerns more than 20,000 units to be distributed in some 157 secondary schools.

Let’s talk about it!

Tablet-Books

The project

A few months ago, you have most probably thought that the government was just blabbering about this project of giving a tablet to each and every Form 4 student. This concerns more than 20,000 units to be distributed in some 157 secondary schools. According to the “Market Sounding Exercise” published on 10 January 2013, these devices should be of at least 8 inches touch screen and with a battery autonomy of minimum of 8 hours. Additionally, the ministry is also looking for Service Providers who need to provide internet access; a minimum of 130 connections per school. The aim of this exercise is to help in the preparation of the procurement for these devices and related services.

Why a tablet?

In the past, the government (as well as other political parties) mentioned their intention to offer a free laptop to every student. Finally, I don’t know how this laptop project got converted into a “tablet” project. Anyway, budget wise  a tablet will definitely cost much less than a laptop.

Apart from the price, the tablet is definitely more portable, light-weight and can easily integrate in a classroom context. Points not to be ignored; tablets are much fragile and prone to thiefs as well as we do not have the necessary local expertise to provide technical support and after sales service. Finally, it is not a secret: Low cost tablets will definitely be of cheaper quality.

It does not surprise me that the choice for a tablet was made just to give a better impression about their vision.

Uses of a tablet

Using Facebook on the nexus 7

Ever since I received my Nexus 7 a few weeks ago, I literally fell in love with it. My wife will certainly agree with this; she got a serious competitor in here. Just to quote what I do with my tablet: Social networking, chatting with friends, watching YouTube movies, keeping up to date with latest news in the world, playing games and even blogging! Nowadays, I seldom switch on my desktop computer.

I won’t hide this fact; I frequently carry it to the toilet too. Afterall, why not? 😛

And what about in a classroom?

This far, I talked about the tablet only for personal use (recreational use if you wish). But this project is about introducing the tablet in schools for Form 4 students (15-16 years old).

The objectives of the government is to, I quote:

  1. An improved pass rate of students at Cambridge SC/GCE ‘O’ Level through a diversification of pedagogy making use of multimedia tools.
  2. Increase in completion rate of first cycle of Secondary Education and thereby an increase in the transition rate to upper Secondary Education and ultimately to higher education and further training.
  3. Better preparedness of students and Educators for 21st Century Skills

As far as I understood, they will be preparing tailored programmes as well as educational materials with the collaboration of MIE to improve and help the teaching process at this level.

You remember, MIE? Their educational channel which most students just ignore.

My thoughts

Good. Enough said.

I truly disagree with the government on this project. Tablets handed freely to Form 4 students will neither increase the level of education nor the quality. I can already see MOST students using the tablets for their own leisure (Like I do), not for educational purposes if ever strict rules and software modifications are not made.

The government said that they will ensure that there’s no abuse when the device is used in and out of school premises.  What do they mean by “Abuse”? Watching movies, streaming videos, chatting or updating your Facebook: Do these fall in this category?

At one instance, some talked about doing presentations and school projects with the tablet. How damn are they going to do a presentation on an 8 inch tablet in a classroom? And school projects? lol.

Instead of wasting the population’s money on this far-fetched vision, the government should have :

  • Improved existing facilities in colleges
  • Extend opening hours of computer labs
  • Provide more computers (in working conditions of course)
  • Allow computer labs to be used by all, not only Computer students
  • Provide free internet access for all in school premises (Use existing software to block forbidden content)
  • Give better incentives and facilities for parents to purchase cheaper laptops or desktop computers.
  • Decrease price of internet connection at home (The announced 256kbps internet connectivity with a limit of 2GB for Rs200/month is a joke. I might come on this in a future post)
  • AND ABOVE ALL, end these tuitions and that rat race in our education system!!!

Bref, this list is not exhaustive.

If I was a Form 4 student reading this article, I would be definitely cursing the author because what probably really matters is that the government is playing Santa Claus. There are so many questions about this project, its viability and efficiency as such. Fortunately, this project is at a very early stage but I truly fear that we might soon have more tablets than youngsters with a good level of education and a white collar job.

I now invite you to express yourselves on this topic. Thank you for reading 🙂

Kreole morisien ou bhojpuri?

The government has announced that the two languages “Kreol morisien” and the “bhojpuri” will be introduced as optional languages in primary schools as from next year.

The government has announced that the two languages “Kreol morisien” and the “bhojpuri” will be introduced as optional languages in primary schools as from next year. Parents now have 2 more choices in the existing list of optional languages (Hindi, Urdu, etc).

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you might remember that we already discussed about the introduction of creole some time back.

Yashvin, pages of my life

On this great Friday morning, let’s keep the post short. I have only one two questions for you :

  1. What do you think about the introduction of these 2 languages
  2. If you are enrolling your kid in the primary school next year (or just imagine that you have a kid), will you opt for one of these languages?

Have a nice day and bon weekend to everyone. Thanks for your visit (and comments) 😉