The Jakarta Post
In an effort to promote the importance of the natural environment to children, the West Manggarai regional administration in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) will introduce the subject of environmental conservation as a part of the primary school curriculum's local content, starting in the 2015-2016 academic year.
West Manggarai administration assistant Benediktus Banu, who is in charge of people's welfare and administrative affairs, said the introduction of the new subject was a breakthrough policy for the regency, as it would help students in the regency to recognize the region's high biodiversity and urge them to actively take part in local conservation efforts
The introduction of the subject in the school curriculum's local content, according to Banu, was jointly initiated by West Manggarai's Education, Youth and Sports Agency and national conservation organization BirdLife Indonesia.
'The local administration has also given their concrete support to the introduction of the local content by issuing a regental decree on the implementation of the new subject at all primary schools in the regency,' he said on Wednesday.
West Manggarai is the first of the 23 regencies and cities in NTT to initiate the environmental conservation curriculum as local content, according to Banu.
To support the introduction of the new subject, BirdLife Indonesia and the local administration have printed 9,300 textbooks to be distributed to the regency's 239 elementary schools.
Fifth grader Margareta Cerliyani, who attends the Ranggawatu SDN 5 state elementary school in the Mbeliling district, said she was happy to learn the new subject, which has been recently been introduced at her school.
'We can learn about the types of traditional handicrafts made of natural materials that we previously knew from our parents' stories about their childhoods,' she said.
Another fifth grader at the school, Riswan Rabin, said the new subject helped students to understand nature more easily.
'During a lesson [on the subject], we visited a nearby forest or school garden to learn how to distinguish many types of plants,' Riswan said.
SDN Ranggawatu elementary school principal Emilia Jemis also applauded the new subject, saying that it would help children to recognize every form of local wisdom of the West Manggarai community.
BirdLife Indonesia's team leader in Mbeliling, Tiburtius Hani, said West Manggarai was home to at least five important areas of biodiversity. The Mbeliling forest, for example, is a habitat for several endemic plant species and four endemic bird species that are at risk of extinction, such as the Flores hanging parrot, according to Tiburtius.
'Conservation efforts for the biodiversity must involve many parties, including children who are the future actors in such efforts. By instilling a love for nature from an early age through a local-content school subject, the future generation in West Manggarai is expected to be aware of environmental conservation,' Tiburtius said.
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