Category: environmental programs for students


Young women sit on the floor, deeply engaged with the task in front of them. Learning how to shape and polish coconut shells into wonderful animal and other shapes – they are also taught how to use machines that will help them in their work.

Dr. Pellur Sudhakar, the Director of CPREEC (the C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre), has traveled to Gudalur, a city in the Nilgiris Hills in south India, to conduct classes in making traditional handicrafts.

Handcrafted products made from coconut shells can be wonderfully imaginative.

Coconut trees grow abundantly in India, and many products are made from them, for example, coconut oil. After the oil is extracted, the shells are left, and this extremely abundant material, which would otherwise go to waste, can be turned into delightful works of art.

CPREEC teaches groups of students or teachers, or both, how to do these crafts. By teaching the teachers, who pass on what they have learned, they reach a great many students.

The Nilgiris hills of Tamil Nadu, where the town Gudalur is located, are one of the most beautiful places on earth. Unbelievably green hills are enveloped in mist that drifts among the hills. It is a magical landscape. Gudalur is the farthest point west in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

In the town of Gudalur, thirty young women, from a low-income background, were identified as trainees to take part in the two-month training program to learn how to make coconut shell products. CPREEC came up with the products that would have the greatest marketing potential: “angry birds,” spoons, bowls, cups, key chains, soap stands, incense stands, flower vases, wall hangers, and doorbells. The young women were taught how to make these.

An expansive program

In 2020, Dr. Sudhakar and his team traveled to 24 locations in four different states to teach teachers and students. The course in how to make handicrafts from coconut shells was just one of several programs that were offered to the students. As well as the town of Gudalur, the training programs also traveled to twenty-six other locations.

In the Tumakuru district of Karnataka, the state just west of Tamil Nadu, another hill district, a range of hills 4,000 feet high, running north to south, creates spectacular vistas, as one looks down over the valleys below. It is a wonderland of green hills.

In the state of Odisha, to the north, they traveled to the Khorda District, a land of coastal plains and startingly beautiful, ancient temples.

The long history of Indian folk art

Handicrafts in India are not something that one just does as a hobby. They are part of a long, much respected culture and tradition – an art form that has been passed down from generation to generation. Indian handicrafts are extraordinarily beautiful and creative.
CPREEC taught the trainees how to use machines safely — grinding wheels, polishing tools, cutters, and drills to make and polish the finished products. The young women were also trained to use natural colors to decorate the products. The training would enable each of them to make a good living as an entrepreneur, and also a professional artisan.

Producing this beautiful and very popular form of folk art will give them a livelihood based on creativity and inspiration, which engages their inner spirit and natural joy in producing works of beauty. It is an art form that is filled with life and charm – that will bring delight both to themselves and their customers.

Helping the earth

As well as artistic creativity, the coconut shell products are friendly to the environment. They make use of a by-product – the coconut shell – left over from the production of coconut oil or coconut milk. The process destroys nothing and creates great beauty.

During the year 2020, in 27 programs, reaching 1,215 students and teachers, which took place in 24 towns – from the Nilgiris hills to Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, further north along the coast, Dr. Sudhakar and his team have brought out the natural creativity of these young people, giving them a very practical – as well as delightful and environmentally friendly — future. They will now be equipped to make their way in the world with confidence and pride in their own talents and abilities.

Photos:

Photo of Gudalur. Needle Rock View Point
Raj, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

All other photos: CPREEC

© Text copyright, Forest Voices of India, 2021

Most of us cannot speak Tamil; however, if you take a moment or two to look at this beautiful video – somewhere in the middle, you will be able to get an idea of the peaceful, graceful surroundings of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation….

The pandemic has hit India hard. But there are groups you can support who are making a big difference for families. For example, with schools shut down, many children are in danger of losing a lifetime chance at education – or of getting into trouble or marrying younger than they would like to. But the CPRA Foundation is focused on making sure that schooling and opportunities continue, even for some of the poorest children in their region.

Extending a lifeline

Throughout the pandemic, the CPRA Foundation (the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation) has redoubled their efforts and extended a lifeline to many in this difficult time.

Children with learning disabilities

In the Saraswathi Kendra Learning Centre, a school for children with learning disabilities, autism, or dyslexia, in south India, the CPRA Foundation has been providing the children with both online education and online counseling. The head psychologist, Mrs. Niraja, has organized parents’ counseling groups to guide the parents in how to relate to the children when they are at home and not in school. They have continued to make amazing transformations in the lives of the students. In normal times, some of these children pay fees for school. Others cannot afford to pay. No one knows which children are paying and which are not, and that’s how it should be. There is no charge for any of the special counseling.

Schools for low-income children

In the two elementary schools outside of Chennai that the CPRA Foundation runs for low-income children, finding ways to help the children learn remotely has been challenging.

The CPRA Foundation runs four schools. The school in Kumbakonam, to the south of Chennai, is a free elementary school for very low-income children whose parents cannot afford to pay anything at all for their children’s education – they may work as waiters or domestic help, or as laborers in brick factories. The CPRA Foundation bought and gave to the students, textbooks and notebooks for use during the school year when the students did not go to school because of the pandemic. However, since many of the parents cannot read or write, they weren’t able to help their children to read these books, so they were of only limited benefit.

In Kanchipuram, an hour to the west of Chennai, The CPRA Foundation runs an elementary school for girls. There the teachers produced a video of themselves going through each lesson. This was easy to watch and understand and was extremely helpful for the students, enabling them to keep up with their academic work.

The CPRA Foundation also runs a scholarship program, called Each One Teach One – sending children to several schools in Chennai and paying for their education. 600 children are part of this program, being paid for by the CPRA Foundation. However, in this lost school year, the children could not attend school. Since most of the families had lost their jobs, the Foundation took the money for the scholarships and distributed it to the families to help them through this year when they had no income.

Challenges for the children of India

One morning, a woman, as she was struggling to load trash onto the back of a garbage truck, was asked why she was allowing her son, who looked to be around ten, to work alongside her. She replied, “His school is closed, and if I leave him home alone, he will be running wild in the streets. It’s safer for him if he’s with me, so I bring him along.” She was doing everything she knew how to do to keep her son out of trouble.

With so many schools in India shut because of the pandemic, there are many young boys being left alone, without supervision. Their parents work, as do their grandparents sometimes. Other relatives may have their hands full caring for the sick. Young boys, who are normally kept busy with their schoolwork are instead left to their own devices. As might happen anywhere, many do run wild, and there is a widespread fear that many unattended children could get into trouble, or even form into gangs.

The situation is dire for the girls as well. One woman being interviewed for a job, when asked about her children, explained that she had just “married off” her teenaged daughter. She didn’t want to leave her alone in the house. There was no school open for her to go to. By having her married, her mother intended to give her daughter a permanent, secure place in another family.

To prevent these things from happening, the CPRA Foundation works ongoingly, counseling parents, to give children secure, happy lives and good opportunities for the future.

Dr. Nanditha Krishna, President of the CPRA Foundation, writes, “The pandemic has caused great hardship for children in particular, as their best years are drifting past. Many young girls have been married off all over the country.”

When these teenaged girls cannot go to school and are too young to work, their families may seek to give them a secure and stable place with another family through marriage. Sadly, even when this arrangement does give some security, it will usually mean that the girl will have no further education and very few opportunities in life.

The CPRA Foundation is doing a tremendous amount of work through online learning and counseling, to help both girls and boys continue their education and prepare for the times ahead – to get through the hardships of COVID-19 and on to a brighter future.

In normal years, to attend the Asia for Animals Conference – which is always lively and dynamic – you’ll need to spend several thousand dollars and around 15 hours flying across the Pacific.

This year however, due to the pandemic, you can stay in your armchair and pay $20 to be part of the virtual two-day AfA Conference – which is a good deal.

Well, it’s really a two-night conference, from the U.S., due to the time differences.

Speakers

Jane Goodall will give the keynote address. Other speakers will be well-known animal activists from China, Nepal, India, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, and other Asian countries. The conference will be in English.

The 2021 Conference will be put on jointly by Blue Cross of India and FIAPO (the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations). Dr. Chinny Krishna, one of the founders of these two organizations will give the opening address.

Around twenty sessions and panel discussions will take up highly relevant topics.

One session will focus on building an Asian movement to end live animal markets and the wildlife trade.

A panel discussion on Spirituality and Animal Protection will include Dr. Nanditha Krishna, well-known author of many books on animals, the world of nature, and Hinduism – along with Manoj Gautam from Nepal, Wolf Gordon Clifton of the Animal People Forum, and others. The traditions of many Asian countries go back 5,000 years or longer – so there’s quite a lot to cover.

Jill Robinson, of the Animals Asia Foundation, who has led the struggle to free bears from bear bile farms, will speak about the cat and dog meat trade.

Other sessions will feature – fading out the use of animals in tourism, the role of a plant-based movement, and the role of children in animal rights advocacy. Sessions will also focus on farm animals, wild animals, and companion animals.

Asia for Animal Conferences have been held every year and a half since they began in 2001, twenty years ago, in the Philippines. Animal advocacy in Asia faces challenges – as is the case everywhere in the world. The animal movement in Asia is led by remarkable people, who set an amazing example, marked by a high level of energy, enthusiasm, courage, and perseverance.

You can view the Conference program here: https://www.asiaforanimals.com/conference-2021
Scroll down until you see the schedule. You can see the times in the left margin. “IST” is Indian time.

Time Differences

The time difference between U.S. Mountain time (Utah time) and IST (Indian Standard Time) is 11 and a half hours.

This means that, for U.S. attendees, the conference does not start on April 24, instead it starts this coming Friday – in the evening of April 23, at 10 pm, Utah time – or 12 midnight EST.

To convert Indian time (IST) to Utah time, subtract 11 and a half hours.

If you’re not much of a night owl, you may still want just to stay up for one or two events – or if you’re a morning songbird, you may want to wake up for two or three early morning events, starting at around 5 am. Or, you may be completely captivated and want to watch the entire conference – for all of both nights.

In any case, whatever you can watch, it will be fascinating. It will give you an insight into the dynamic work of Asian animal advocates, who stand up for the animals in Asia – and it will be a lot easier than flying across the Pacific for 15 hours!

How to sign up

Go to this link https://afa2021.eventuresindia.com/register

But first do this: Before registering, you are advised to call your credit card company and notify them that you are about to make a foreign purchase. These days, credit card companies may block your card for making an “unusual” (i.e. foreign) purchase. If you call them in advance, there will be no problem.

Registration for the two-day conference is $20.

Relevance to wild lands

All efforts to save the earth’s animals (both wild and domestic animals – and ourselves too) depend on the continued existence of wild habitat, which means wild lands – which means renewing the earth. We all live on the same earth – one earth.

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We look forward to seeing you at the AfA Conference this Friday evening!

 

 

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Harini and Pavitra, dressed in their blue and white school uniforms, had come to school that morning with their parents – Harini with both her parents and Pavitra with her mother – so we could interview them to get a sense of what the EACH ONE TEACH ONE scholarship program meant to them.

 

“If you could say something to the whole world, what would it be?” I found myself asking Harini.

 

It wasn’t a question I had planned to ask her. She paused for thought, then replied,

 

“Trees are very important for humans. Trees breathe by photosynthesis, and that’s good for humans, because we need oxygen to live. They give us oxygen to breathe, and they each give life to a whole ecosystem. We need to love trees and protect them. I would say to everyone in the world that we must take care of trees.”

 

An uplifting message

 

What an uplifting message from a twelve-year old child.  If only the world’s politicians would speak with such clarity about the natural world.

 

In her office, where the principal, Mrs. Ruby Puthotta, greets visitors with a warm, engaging smile, every wall was lined with shelves and more shelves of trophies, won for athletic achievements over the years by the girls of Lady Sivaswami Ayyar Girls Higher Secondary School. The school is in Chennai, on the Bay of Bengal in South India.

 

Harini and her schoolmate, Pavitra, who is thirteen, are two of the 300 children at the school who are able to attend school thanks to the EACH ONE TEACH ONE scholarship program, run by the C.P. Foundation, Chennai.

 

Harini and her parents live in Tharamani, outskirts of Chennai, twelve miles away from Mylapore. The three of them had caught a train early that morning to travel to meet us.

 

When Harini is not at school, she spends her time painting natural scenery and, especially — you guessed it – trees. She tells us that there are lots of trees and bushes around her house.  She loves animals too; there are community dogs that live in her neighborhood. When she finishes school, she wants to join the Indian Administration Service to become a civil servant.

 

Her mother, K. Jayanthi, takes care of the home, and her father, Mr. Kaliraj owns and runs a sidewalk shop that sells ice cream and snacks. He says it’s fairly busy, and he enjoys his work, which he’s been doing for around twenty years.

 

A future scientist

 

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Harini’s schoolmate, Pavitra, who is thirteen, rides her bike to school every day. She lives closer to the school than Harini does – only about a mile and a half away, and she’s fascinated by science. She loves to read books about nature – especially about the stars and the planets. She’s fond of animals too, particularly dogs and horses.

 

Pavitra intends to be a scientist one day and is especially intrigued by chemistry. When she’s not at school, she spends her time doing handicrafts, especially making pink paper flowers to decorate her room.

 

Harini’s mother, Jayanthi, works in the home, has a talent for sewing, and makes clothes for her family. Married for 25 years, she and her husband have three children. She tells us, “When I’m making lunch for my children in the morning, I’m just really happy and grateful that they’re able to go to school.”

 

She wants her children to have good lives, and she is focused on that. Pavitra’s sisters are eleven and nine years old. Harini’s eleven-year old sister also studies at this school and has a scholarship.

 

Giving young people a chance to learn

 

Under the guidance of Dr. Nanditha Krishna, President, C.P. Foundation, the project has been coordinated by Mrs. Malathy Narasimhan, of the C.P. Foundation, after the passing away of Mrs. Shakunthala Jagannathan, Founder Member of EACH ONE TEACH ONE, in the year 2000.

 

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The principal, Mrs. Ruby Puthotta, gives us some background on what this program means to the students being sponsored. 90% of the students at this school are very poor, while 10% are middle class. Over half of the students are able to attend school only because of the scholarships that they receive – from the C.P. Foundation and other charities that also offer scholarships.

 

She explains, “We have a lot of children from very poor backgrounds.  Some of the girls do domestic work early in the morning, and then again after school to help support their families. We’ve identified 45 children who work before and after school, and we’ve set up a special coaching program to help them. The All India Domestic Workers Association helps by paying for the teacher that does the coaching.”

 

Legally, children can start to work in India at age 14, so without a scholarship to be able to stay in school, these girls would have only a dreary future ahead of them.

 

Thanks to generous sponsors though, there are now no limits on what they may accomplish. Their sponsorships will take them through the twelfth grade, and the chances are good that they will qualify for scholarships to go on to university.

 

A wider reach

 

It also means something really important for the rest of us — that the world will not lose all that these gifted young people have to offer.

 

The world is in need of their talents and energy – and very much in need of the deep understanding that “trees are very important” – and are vital to our future.  What could be a more meaningful message?

 

A promising future for these youngsters will make a big difference – not just for them, but for us and our world as well.

 

 

 

By Sharon St Joan

President

Forest Voices of India

 

How you can help

The Ramaswami Foundation
(the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation)
Chennai, India

The Ramaswami Foundation

– empowers women to start their own businesses.

_ runs schools and sponsors the education of children from low-income families in South India.

– instills the concept of ahimsa (“do no harm”) through the art and culture of India.

You can help by clicking on the Donate button, and choosing the CPR Foundation. Another great way to help is to send this link to a friend.

Bless you for your kindness!

 

*Ravishankar with students

By Sriya Narayanan

 

A tree is a quiet pillar of endurance, continually infusing life into earth and sustaining thousands of species, many of which are practically invisible to the human eye. But S. Ravishankar sees them all – and wants us to as well. A former math teacher, amateur astronomer, volunteer at Tumkur Science Center, and passionate advocate for the protection of our planet, Ravishankar has spent eighteen long and fruitful years with CPREEC (C.P.R. Environmental Education Centre) turning young children with no prior information about conservation into wide-eyed explorers whose first task is always deceptively simple – just count how many living things they see on a nearby tree.

The task titled ‘Exploring a tree’ always results in the delightful discovery that even a casual, preliminary count could come up to 15-20 kinds of insects, birds and other animals. This serves the dual role of teaching children about the wealth of biodiversities in their own backyards, and fostering empathy for a living being that silently bears the responsibility of nurturing more species than one ever knew existed.

 

*students

 

Ravishankar conducts environmental education camps for two age groups – the first group consists of children from Grades 6 to 8 who get to learn basic environmental concepts such as trees, soil, water and leaves with presentations on the above, piquing their curiosity about the world around them. The second group (Grades 9 to 12) gets to go on field trips and also gets the opportunity to become volunteers themselves, conserving nature and helping out with similar camps. Also in the curriculum are nature walks, bird-watching tours, sky watching and learning more about water sources. Students also get to drop seed balls in forest areas just before the monsoon to give tree cover a much-needed boost. As expected, the saplings that resulted are now thriving.

By tailoring the experience to their level of knowledge this way, Ravishankar removes the barrier to learning about conservation, and does so in a way that feels more like fun than an education. He fondly recalls how one such session at Devaraiyana Durga caught the attention of two onlookers who drew closer to the group to listen to what was being taught, even though they were not part of the delegation or even aware of what the camp was about.  Fast forward to the present, and the duo – Ramkrishnappa and Indramma – are permanent resource persons at CPREEC, inspiring other children the way Ravishankar unknowingly inspired them all those years ago.

Ravishankar believes that every child must know of the intricate relationship between humans and the delicate, yet powerful ecosystem that surrounds us. He firmly believes that no educational mobile app can match the thrilling moment that one experiences while seeing so much life buzzing under the surface upon exploring a tiny 50-square-foot area in the real world.

He also demonstrates to children how resilient even a barren patch of land can be, by encouraging them to collect seeds and throw them in areas where nothing grows. He tried the experiment in Siddarapetta and Didigulpetta and was happy to see that two years later, 20-30% of the seeds had sprouted and grown. The farmers in the area believe that it could take a decade to see significant results.

 

*geology

Ravishankar reveals that while he doesn’t have the resources to own or operate farmlands, he hopes that these initiatives encourage his students and shape their choices. He observes that many young people do care deeply about environmental protection but are often at a loss for what exactly to do.  He hopes that his camps and educational programmes are the seeds that lay the foundation of everything they will do next. He’s proud to report that his success rate is fairly high, and that between 3 and 4 students out of every 20 become conservers of nature when they grow up. Even if it feels like a tortuously long wait, as a man who has spent nearly his entire adult life working with Mother Nature, Ravishankar knows that anything worth accomplishing takes good intentions, relentlessness… and most importantly – patience.

 

Sriya Narayanna is the Senior Editor at Karadi Tales, a children’s publishing house in Chennai, India. https://www.karaditales.com

 

How you can help

The Centre for Environmental Education
(C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Centre for Environmental Education)
in Chennai, India

– Safeguards water

– Revives tribal arts

– Runs ecological study projects for students

– Restores forest groves – planting trees, improving water sources, and providing places of peace and joy for both wildlife and village people.

To help, click on Donate and choose Centre for Environmental Education.

Sending this link to a friend is another great way to help.

Bless you for caring!

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In among the trees dozens and dozens of spotted deer munched on their breakfast of leaves and grass.

 

This August morning, Ravi Shankar, the CPREEC field officer for Karnataka, in south India, was taking a group of college students into Devarayanadurga Forest, where they soon encountered the herd of deer.

 

The students were from the nearby Sri Siddaganga College of Arts, Science, and Commerce.

 

Their task for the day however, wasn’t just to stand there in awe of the deer, it was to clean up a section of the forest.

 

The younger sister of one of the college students had tagged along. No one could discourage her because she had been quite determined to join the outing.

 

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When they set to work to gather up some of the trash to make the area clean as part of their service project, she picked up more litter than anyone else. Late that afternoon, not tired at all from a hard day’s work, she was all smiles.

 

Villagers and water birds

 

Throughout the school year, Ravi Shankar leads groups of students on outings away from city centers, crammed with shops and motorcycles, and out into the green, beautiful world of nature.

 

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In Kokkrebelur, a village near Mandia, in the state of Karnataka, the people have an extraordinary bond with water birds. In fact, “Kokkare”, the name of the village, means painted stork. Ravi Shankar took a group of students there to learn about the way that the villagers and the birds interact with each other. The whole village is a sanctuary for the birds. Instead of relating to the birds as a nuisance, they have long welcomed them and, over the centuries, have built up a close bond with them, viewing them as harbingers of good luck and prosperity. The villagers watch over and care for the painted storks, pelicans, and the other migrating species — little cormorants, black ibises, and herons.

 

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On this occasion, one of the baby storks had fallen out of his nest. When this happens, parent birds, unlike mammals, aren’t able to pick up and move the baby, much as they would like to. So, the villagers had picked him up and stepped in to become foster parents, feeding and caring for the youngster. Since he was still surrounded by his flock, he would have no trouble rejoining them later as soon as he was old enough to fly and could feed on his own.

 

Watching how much the villagers loved the birds was an amazing experience for the students. The village women even sang songs to the birds to welcome their return; they viewed them as friends and companions, as blessings sent from heaven.

 

The situation of wild birds is rather different in India compared to that in the U.S.

 

In the U.S. people are rightfully encouraged to leave wild birds alone, not to interfere with them, and especially not ever to try to tame them, so that the birds will always be well adjusted to their lives in the wild.

 

But India is a country of over one billion people. There are villages everywhere, and many villages are located right near or even inside forests, so the people and the wild birds are already living together in the forest. The ideal situation in India is just what is happening in this village – to have a very close bond between the people and the birds. The birds fly free, and yet they live close to humans and are comfortable around them. This is in keeping with the age-old reverence that has always existed in the culture of India for nature and wild creatures.

 

The Indian Forest Service encourages the villagers to live in harmony with the birds. In this area there are crops of sugar cane and also many large artificial lakes, called “tanks.” During the nesting season, nearby trees are overflowing with water birds. Because they can’t grow crops directly underneath trees filled with nests, the villagers are compensated with a fixed sum for each tree in which there are nesting birds, which provides a much-needed supplement to their income.

 

This is a wonderful example of co-existence. The trees too, which are the homes of the birds, are nurtured and cared for. The population of spot-billed pelicans is thriving and has doubled in recent years.

 

Forming a deep appreciation of nature

 

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Spending a day keeping the forest clean and picking up litter formed a tie between the forest and the students. Now they will truly care about the well-being of the trees and the wildlife there.

 

Meeting the young pelican being raised by the villagers and watching people happy to be surrounded by thousands of migratory birds made a lasting impression on the students – a vivid memory of harmony with birds in the forest that will shape their future views of the natural world.

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How much water does a train use?

 

Does a train use water? Who knew? Well, some high school students in Chennai, in the south of India, can tell you all about it.

 

As part of a school project at the Daniel Thomas Matriculation School in Koyambedu, to the west of Chennai, they did a study of the water usage of the Mangalore Express.

 

Visiting the railway station and talking with the yard manager in charge of keeping the trains ready, they learned about the storage points of water on the train. Most of the water is kept on top of the train. When the compartments are air conditioned, then water is stored underneath the train and has to be pumped.

 

The students calculated the amount of water being used – and how it can be conserved. “Even we didn’t know that much information,” one of the train officials commented.

 

The C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Environmental Education Centre (CPREEC), based in Chennai, conducts programs like this in schools all across south India, and even in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The program is offered jointly by Wipro, an Indian IT company based in Bangalore and CPREEC, Chennai.

 

Generating data that can be useful to engineers and scientists, these studies engage students in scientific field work that is precise and meaningful.

 

 

Who needs water?

 

Why is it important for students to know about water use? As we all know the world is running out of water. In India, with over a billion people, with widespread drought conditions, and with disputes between states over river water,  there is already a growing crisis.

 

But there is hope and a ray of light around the corner when a future generation is being trained to think and act in terms of conservation.

 

This work gives these students an eye-opening glimpse of the problems at hand and tools for knowing how to search for solutions.

 

 

Birds, squirrels, frogs, and fish

 

At another school, L’École Chempka in Trivundram, Kerala, also in south India, every student in the school is involved. Assigned to a particular wetland and guided by a teacher who has been specially trained for this program, the students visit the wetland three or four times. They come up with a report, cataloguing the biodiversity of this spot – the trees, plants, insects, birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish. They develop a complete map of all the species and how they are all interrelated as part of the eco-system.

 

In a world where species are going extinct faster than we can discover them, what better way to shine a light on the inter-connectedness of natural species and the need for preserving them?

 

 

Catching rainwater

 

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In Nerul, in Goa, on the west coast, in a village school run by the parish, students installed a percolation pond for their school. Working hard out in the sun for two months, they dug up the ground and carried away stones. Now, water flows into the pond from surrounding areas, for storage. The Parish Priest, Father Bolmax Periera, could often be spotted among the students, encouraging them and lending a hand.

 

A percolation pond, a shallow pond that catches rainwater, prevents excess evaporation and erosion. It helps the water to be conserved and filtered into the ground, improving soil moisture and mitigating drought.

 

 

Working together with Wipro

 

Mr. Arasu, the Senior Environmental Education Officer who administers CPREEC’s Earthian program, explains that the projects chosen may relate either to water or to biodiversity.

 

Recalling the day he met the Wipro Earthian team – Mr. Mr. Abhijit, Mr. Paul Zacharia, and Ms. Arathi Hanumanthappa in early 2015, Mr. Arasu muses, “Dr. Sudhakar of CPREEC introduced us, and this was the start of a really great time working together.”

 

A major highlight of the program happens every year in February Wipro when holds an annual award event to recognize the accomplishments of the students.

 

Mr. Arasu reflects, “The children travel to Bangalore for the event. They are shown royal hospitality and treated like special guests. The Chairman of Wipro, Mr. Azimpremji takes their questions, ranging from “Why do you care about the environment?” to “What do you think of smart cities?” Music, wildlife photographers, and artists make for a lively atmosphere, and the students get to know others who, like themselves, are captivated by the world of nature.

 

 

Reaching tens of thousands of students

 

Every year CPREEC promotes over 400 of these projects in nine Indian states and two union territories: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Goa, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 

Just in these states alone, CPREEC enriches the lives of tens of thousands of students with the Earthian program.

 

There is no lack of enthusiasm among the students. Getting out of the classroom for a day in the countryside is a big hit, and learning is fun. Each project to be undertaken is designed and submitted by a group of five students guided by a teacher. Then the students carry out their project.

 

Some of the students go on to become scientists or engineers; others, no matter what their chosen field, will always carry with them a deeper understanding and an enduring love for nature and the environment.

 

This innovative program is working to create a new generation of environmentalists in India, a land where the environmental movement first got its start many centuries ago.

 

Traditionally, in India, there has always been a deep reverence for nature. In recent decades, the overwhelming influences of the modern age have sometimes pushed this ancient worldview into the background.

 

 

 

But now this age-old love of nature is finding ways to reassert itself in a new generation of environmentalists.