Since 2015, the MMRP has been running Marine Education Programs (MEPs) with different local schools across the Maldives. The MEP mission is to educate groups of local school students about environmental issues the Maldives and their own local community are faced with; provide environmental initiatives that improve conservation efforts; and inspire young Maldivians to pursue careers in marine conservation. Through the MEP, we hope to develop a well-educated group of locals who are willing to act as ‘ocean guardians’ – to step up to protect and conserve their environment. This will build a generation that can help to solve the anthropogenic problems in the community.
We are currently running the MEP with 28 students from Baa. Dharavandhoo School in partnership with Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru (FSLG) and the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve Office. The program includes four modules: Maldives Marine Ecosystems, Coral Reef and Megafauna, Waste Management, and Ecosystem Conservation. The program includes theory presentations and games designed to encourage critical thinking, with a heavy focus on snorkelling field trips and in-water activities. Many young people in the Maldives, especially females, have never been snorkelling before and are not confident swimmers. These young people are often wary of the ocean and unaware of its beauty and fragility. As Baba Dioum famously said: “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” MMRP believe that getting more Maldivians into the ocean is one of the key ways to improve environmental mindsets and conservation in the Maldives.
So far, the students have learnt about marine ecology and oceanography, as well as coral reef ecosystems and megafauna. They have snorkelled at four different sites with turtles and dolphins and learnt in-situ coral and reef fish identification, as well as visited the turtle rehabilitation centre at the Marine Discovery Centre at FSLG. Next up will be waste management, where students will learn about ways to reduce and manage waste and create their own reusable bags. The program will peak with a field trip to see manta rays (and maybe even a whale shark!) with the Biosphere Reserve rangers. The students love the course so far and are always eager to ask questions and know more. We can’t wait for the next session!
Thanks to Four Seasons Resorts Maldives and Biosphere Reserve Office for their amazing support and partnership on this exciting project.