The Pareo project and Seychelles: a review of activities implemented in 2020 | 13 January 2021
It was an exciting year for three primary schools in Seychelles as the islands joined Mauritius and Reunion in implementing Pareo – a project to raise awareness on the coral reef of the Indian Ocean Region by developing innovative awareness programme.
Port Glaud, Takamaka and Beau Vallon primary schools were chosen to be part of Pareo.
Pareo – the reef heritage of the Indian Ocean in our hands – is highlighting the crucial importance of coral reefs for human livelihood and children as its custodian. Children from Mauritius and Reunion are also benefiting with the project.
The project officially kicked off on Mahé in March, with a three-day teachers' training including a field trip in the St Anne marine park. The teachers were taught how to use the MARECO kit developed to raise awareness about the fragility of coral reefs by the Research Institute of Sustainable Development (IRD). This is the first step of the Pareo project that aims to set up conservation actions for the coral reefs with the children on Mahé.
The kit contains three educative materials, a card game “happy family” to discover marine biodiversity, an album with stickers to understand why the coral reef is degrading, a board game in the form of a role-playing game where together the players must find solutions to conserve the coral reefs.
Field trip to Ste Anne marine park and Cerf island
On the third day of the training, blessed with beautiful, clear and sunny weather, the group boarded the glass bottom boat Shooting Stars for the field trip to Ste Anne Marine Park.
There the group was divided into two, a group went on a beach on Cerf island and the other stayed in the boat. Those on the boat switched flip flops for flippers and got the chance to discover and admire the beautiful underwater life.
On Cerf island, participants had to walk the beach and collect waste. These were then sorted, weighed and volume recorded as this was the easier way to gather data on waste collection and useful when lobbying the authorities. Participants also learned how to calculate how much waste was collected per square metre as well as rating waste as per their toxicity to the marine species.
The other component of the beach was learning the importance and crucial role that marine species play in the coral reef ecosystem and why the need for their conservation should be conveyed to children.
Artworks used to promote conservation
Combining art and conservation, a group of students from the Port Glaud primary school in July started to work on a song about the importance of the reef and its rich heritage. Putting words together to a catchy islands’ style rhythm, the song is singing praises to the reef as a rich biodiversity and ecosystem worth protecting. Issues like pollution will also be highlighted. The song was professionally recorded at the Maudio Waves studio and also made into a video clip.
The two other schools participating in the project opted to work on sculptures. Beau Vallon primary school in the north of the main island of Mahé worked on a sculpture revolving around a traditional boat known as the “pirogue”. The boat made of wood will be the centrepiece and it will be surrounded by a reef designed with recycled materials.
The boat is sculpted in a way to create the impression that it is sinking partially and while the other half of the boat is afloat. The idea is to show that this traditional way of fishing was a sustainable practice in Seychelles but it is now a dying tradition that is lost through modernisation and introduction of motorised boats.
Takamaka primary school in the South of the main island created an artwork in the form of sculpture showcasing a healthy reef versus an unhealthy reef. The art creation has a mirror effect, showing the importance of having healthy corals, with rich biodiversity compared to having an unhealthy polluted reef with negative effects. The kids showcased a bleached and a healthy reef, raising awareness on the issue of climate change.
Both schools are located in districts known for their beautiful beaches. Beau Vallon beach is one of the most frequented beaches by visitors on the main island while Takamaka down south is home to some of the most pristine beaches such as Grand Police and Anse Bazarka.
Class interventions with the MARECO kit
During the third term, all the students got the chance to use the MARECO kit, the sessions which started in October saw each school get 13 hours to discover, learn and play with the kit. The kit is a specifically developed educational tool with games which will be used for teaching in primary schools. The kit includes a booklet as well as card and board games used to illustrate different threats that affect the coral reef directly or indirectly.
Students also learned that the local names we give to some species of coral are funny, and very different from their English names and has no relevance whatsoever. For instance, the rabbitfish is locally known as kordonnyen which when translated in English means shoemaker.
Using the board the kids had to come up with different solutions to these problems. As part of the classroom activities the students got to write poems, role play and at the same time convey important messages around reef protection and conservation. Using playdough, they could also recreate some of the different corals they have learned about and see photos of. In the end, it has been an exciting year for Pareo in Seychelles despite delays caused by Covid-19.
2021 brings the students to the next step in the project which is a fieldtrip, where the kids will apply the knowledge learnt at school and through activities in the project and observe the coral reef from another perspective.
- The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is the implementing agency for the Pareo project in Seychelles.
- The Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles is the local project partner.
- The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development and the Blue Economy department are national collaborators on the project.
The project is being implemented in the three Indian Ocean islands by the Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD). It is funded by Europe, France and the regional council of Reunion – a French department in the Indian Ocean.
The accompanying photos show some of the students working on their projects.