Last week SEARRP hosted the first introductory workshops for our Environmental Education (EE) toolkit and the subsequent “Train-the-Trainers” programme that is supported by Daim Zainuddin Environmental Education Programme. The purpose of these workshops was to introduce the EE materials and topic areas to future practitioners, stakeholders and communities, in order to gauge their interest in participating in the “Train-the-Trainers” programme as well as utilising the toolkits in their own EE programmes in the future. It also provided us with the opportunity to ask project partners for constructive feedback on the materials and how they can be improved so that they are more user-friendly and relevant in the Malaysian context.
SEARRP, in partnership with Swansea University Science for School Scheme, Sabah Environmental Education Network and Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust, is in the process of co-developing Environmental Education (EE) materials that bring together the SEARRP science base and community specialists in order to develop an EE toolkit. This toolkit will consist of materials, workbooks, slide presentations and hands-on activities that promote environmental awareness and activities in the key environmental areas of agricultural sustainability, riparian buffers and water catchment areas, and living in a biodiverse world. We have chosen these subject areas based on partner consultation, with the focus on issues that impact the lives of local communities and are important to promoting environmental stewardship across Malaysia. We will use this toolkit to train and empower local EE practitioners and educators through an intensive “train-the-trainers” pilot programme, with the aim that participants will gain an in-depth knowledge on the subjects and to be able to convey and teach this information to local communities, schools and partners in the future. This EE toolkit will be free, available in both hardcopy and online in English and Bahasa Malaysia, and can be downloaded for partners to use in their own EE outreach projects.
The introductory workshops were incredibly successful and the participants from both the government and non-government sector and the PACOS Community Learning Centre initiative showed great enthusiasm at receiving the training and having access to the final EE toolkit. Following the workshops, we circulated an online questionnaire to determine if participants thought we were focusing on the correct topic areas. The responses showed that our areas of focus are in line with what partners feel is important at a local and national level and this feedback has reassured our team that the EE toolkit will be relevant and applicable to a wide range of users. We were also able to gain insight into the likelihood of partners using the materials in their own EE outreach programmes and again all participants said that they thought that the toolkits and training programmes would benefit their current EE projects, and they are interested in adopting them into their curriculum and training modules. The questionnaire has also helped us to understand ways that we can improve the materials, by suggesting that we utilise case studies and local examples of environmental issues that local people face regularly in Malaysia. This type of feedback is the precise information that we were hoping to gain from the introductory workshops and we are looking forward to applying this information into the EE toolkit
We will incorporate these suggestions into our final EE toolkits and begin the roll out of our “Train-the-Trainers” workshops that will be held in late March and early April. If you have any questions about this exciting programme, please contact our EE Outreach Manager Imelda Geoffrey here.