The SeedTree Program for Environmental Education added a fresh approach in early 2002. We developed a course of study for classes in rural communities. An illustrated manual written in Nepalese by our Program Manager, Bishnu Kumar B.K., has received editorial comments from several local allied organizations, agencies and individuals. One teacher with some educational attainment, usually a woman from the same community, receives training to teach topics, leads discussion and evaluates progress.
Topics include basic concepts of environmental science. Chapters in this manual whose title, "Hami ra Hamro Vatavaran", translates as "Ourselves and Our Environment", include such topics as: Our Home, Soil and Waste Management, Climate (Air and Water), Forest Resources and Agroforestry, Ecosystems, Biodiversity, and the interconnectedness of the web of Life. Each chapter is followed by written questions that lead to group discussion of a few simple points. Each chapter asks participants to make pledges of the practical applications of these lessons that they intend to make in their lives. This unique feature of individual commitment to apply practically the lessons of human ecology has brought forth remarkable initiatives, as class participants have undertaken.
Growing out of this, SeedTree helped establish a secondary or intermediate college for natural science education at the award-winning Tulsi School in Tulsipur, Dang, Nepal. A first in the area, it will enable disadvantaged students to remain in the area and receive a quality higher education. Tulsi School Principal Bhisma K.C. was glad to see the revised edition of our manual and believes it will make a real contribution to the new course of college study.
Other secondary schools in Chitwan have also expressed interest in using it in their curricula. In additional to the traditional study of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, students are following the traditions established during a long relationship with SeedTree, engaging in active, practical, outdoor applications and experiences of seed collection and tree-planting. Here a group of Chitwan villagers study the environmental education manual by lamp light.
In 2006, SeedTree provided organizational and matching support to Desarollo y Educacion, a teaching initiative of two students from Wheaton College on behalf of students in Rio Chico, Ecuador. They wanted to help the children develop a basic understanding of scientific concepts by doing hands-on experiments and going on field trips to explore the rich biodiversity of their native land. Read more about this program in the article by Hannah Benoit.