Beau Vallon secondary student wins prize in international essay contest


Anthea poses with certificate and trophy

Anthea Laurence from Beau Vallon secondary school, who was one of the highest performing students from Seychelles, won a special prize trophy for her outstanding performance for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The organisers stated that they were impressed with the knowledge and emphasis Seychellois children have placed on the impacts of climate change on (SIDS), like Seychelles.

Anthea, accompanied by Shane Emilie, environment education officer from the Environmental Education Unit of the Ministry of Education who coordinated the competition at school level, returned to Seychelles on May 20, 2012 after having attended the prize giving ceremony in the United Kingdom.

(From l to r): Mrs Dunlop, Mr Hansen, Anthea Laurence and Shane Emilie

This week’s Education Page brings you a feature article on Anthea and Shane’s visit to UK.
Upon arrival in the UK, they were greeted by the tourism ambassador for Seychelles, Georgia Dunlop.

They immediately visited the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens not too far from where they were living in Bradwell Grove near to Oxfordshire.

Mrs Dunlop organised for them to go for a special tour in the park and meet Darwin, one of the giant tortoises.

“It is amazing to see how the park’s authority looks after the place and the animals, especially one of Seychelles native animals, the giant tortoise, which has easily adapted to the environment there,” Shane explained.

Darwin, the famous giant tortoise at Cotswold Wildlife park

Apart from Cotswold Wildlife Park, they also visited the walled garden, tropical house, insect and reptile house and both Shane and Anthea managed to see and hold various rare animals such as Morelet’s crocodile and snakes, some of which they had seen for the first time. 

“The park is very large and provides opportunity for interaction and it was interesting to observe the different animals such as guinea pigs and ponies in the children’s farmyard,” Anthea said.

Apart from that, both Anthea and Shane managed to feed giraffes and also view other mammals such as wolves.

Anthea feeding the giraffe

Their well planned schedule of visits did not end there; the second was the highpoint of their visit -- the prize giving ceremony for the Living Rainforest international competition entitled ‘Dear Mr UN secretary general’ held in a village along the countryside called Hampstead Norreys, Berkshire.

Shane and Anthea were accompanied by Mrs Dunlop and Lena Hoareau (Seychelles Tourism Board’s public relations manager and press bureau in UK who travelled from London to also attend the ceremony.

(From l to r): Anthea, Mrs Dunlop, Shane and Mrs Hoareau

At Living Rainforest the Seychelles team had a cheerful welcome from the staff and some participants from other countries.

The impression was that most of them were excited to see people from Seychelles and started to share their fascinations about our beautiful islands.

A special tour was organised in the Living Rainforest and it was observed that the organisation was doing a wonderful job to conserve some of the plants and animals that were in danger of extinction. Some of the plants being grown in the forest are also found in Seychelles, such as the angel’s trumpet (known as ‘fler laklos’ in Seychelles), Swiss cheese plant and ‘lake mimi’.
The animals were some species of birds such as Turaco and small mammals and reptiles such as the African dwarf crocodile and Goeldi’s monkey.

After the tour, the director for Living Rainforest, Karl Hansen, welcomed all the students and teachers from different countries such as Nigeria, Malta and United Kingdom.

The prize winners were announced and they were divided into two categories: the special prize trophy winners and the overall best winners.

Anthea, Seychelles’ highest performing student, received a special prize trophy and also collected the prize for the best performing student for SIDS.

Other countries such as Nigeria, United Kingdom and Malta also won special prizes.

However, for the overall best category, Nardos Tilahun from New Zealand snatched the star prize and a return trip to Brazil to be accompanied by her teacher and parent.

In second position was Theo Toaldo from the United Kingdom followed in third place by Ksenia Bashlykova from Kazhakstan.

Group photo of winners and their teacher champion

It should be noted that the essay competition was for both primary and secondary schools and some students from Seychelles were among the finalists. Some -- from both primary and secondary -- also received honourable mentions. All of them received certificates which were collected by Anthea.

The students were then separated into groups representing different interests to be debated at the Rio+20 Earth Summit such as Climate change, pollution, deforestation and others to discuss on the way forward. This was followed by presentations and an attempt to come to an agreement on 10 major points on a shared path forward for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Some of the points discussed were:

1. Make environmental education fun and appealing
2. No go areas to protect biodiversity
3. Emissions filters in all factories
4. Make sure Rio+20 keep its promises
5. Plant more trees to replace those cut down
6. Greener energy for new houses with incentives provided by government
7. Eco taxes

Mr Hansen stated that they were impressed with the content of Anthea’s essay because of emphasis placed on climate change and the importance of providing a platform for SIDS like Seychelles to express their concerns on this issue.

It is important to note that Anthea managed to get one among the seven trophies in this international competition. The panel of judges were highly respected academics.

Being the first time that a Seychellois student receives such a prize, in the future the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Energy would like to continue to work together to give our children and young people more of these international exposures.

Recently Seychelles received great news about the Rio+20 youth song contest with the locally produced song ‘Respect life’ and this shows the talents that the youths of Seychelles have and how we care for our environment.

Shane, who coordinated the essay competition within the Ministry of Education, would like to urge all schools to take part in these contests so as to provide the students with the opportunity to make their voices heard and also for their schools to be recognised for the effort they are putting towards environmental education and education for sustainable development.

Apart from spending time in Bradwell grove, Shane and Anthea managed to go for a short tour in Oxfordshire, Romford, a protected forest by the queen’s order called ‘Epping forest’ and also at Stratford in London, where the Olympic Games will take place.

Our two local delegates would like to express their gratitude to President James Michel,  Ministry of Education, Ministry of Environment and Energy, JJ Spirit Foundation, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Mrs Dunlop and Marie-May de Speville (both from UK) for making this trip a success.

Besides Anthea, the other Seychellois students who got into the finals of the competition are
Abirami Pugazhendhi (Belonie secondary), Toni Larue, Marielle Bouchereau, Aathi Padayachy (Praslin secondary).

Those wo received honourable mentions are Stephanie Joseph, Jean Francois Servina, Petra Estico, Anse Aux Pins primary), Sonam Tsultrim, Frances Barra (Anse Boileau secondary), Hamelia Marie (Beau Vallon primary), Beverly Sedgwick, Ray Cecile, Marlon Bijoux, Kelly Barbe, Grace Maria, Eileen Sinon, Dylan Renaud, Deera Charles (Beau Vallon secondary), Nisha Serret, Irma Dubois (Belonie secondary), Jean-Luc Adrienne (English River secondary), Venuri De Silva, Upeksha Hettiarachchi (International school).

Contributed by the Environmental Education Unit, Ministry of Education