During the past four years there has been much discussion in the Seychelles about sustainable coastal development and integrated coastal zone management. Various stakeholders, including rep re s e n t at ives from educat i o n , h ave been involved in an array of sometimes unrelated national and regional workshops on the subject. Inevitably, one of the outcomes of all of these meetings is the recognition of the vital role education must play in the development of a society able to live sustainably in coastal areas. As the Seychelles is an archipelago of small islands, most of its land area can be considered to be coastal, and most human activities have a direct impact on the coastal environment. For example, as new roads and housing developments cut into the hillside, rain washes loose red earth into the sea where it settles on sea grass beds and coral reefs. Pesticide and fertilizer runoff from agricultural activities eventually finds its way to the sea. Sewage from faulty domestic septic systems along hillsides and on the coast seeps into rivers and is then washed down to the sea. Most industrial developments are along the coast, where their effluent poses a potential hazard to coastal and marine life. The dumping site on the main island of Mahe is located on reclaimed land (coral fill) along the coast where leachate seeps into the adjacent sea. Environmental education activities that seek to address these problems all potentially could have a impact on sustainable coastal development. Since the early eighties, the Seychelles Ministry of Education has placed a strong emphasis on the environment in the national curriculum at primary and secondary school levels. Since this time, Seychellois pupils have learnt about the sea and coast in a range of subjects including science, English, art, French, Creole, and geography.
More recently, the Ministry of Education brought out an environmental education policy, outlining its commitment to further development of environmental education in the national curriculum from Crèche (nursery) to Polytechnic. In 1997 a curriculum guidelines document was produced which details a series of environmental learning objectives to be integrated into the national curriculum; it includes a strong focus on the marine environment. At present a new unit on coastal environments is being developed for the primary school science programme, and another is planned for secondary school geography. Part of the Ministry of Education’s strategy to further integrate environmental education into the curriculum is to provide training in environmental education (EE) for in-service and preservice teachers. Since 1993, short workshops on various aspects of EE have been offered every year for primary and secondary school and polytechnic teachers. In addition, in 1994 the local teacher training institution introduced a popular optional module on environmental education for pre-service primary and secondary school teachers. Teacher training initiatives aim to provide teachers with opportunities to learn more about the local environment and ecology, environmental problems, and provide them with first-hand experience through field trips and project work.
However, due to several constraints, schools at present are limited in their capacity to provide students with opportunities to participate actively in projects re l ated to sustainable coastal development as part of their timetabled lessons. It is rather in the context of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that students are being more actively involved in coastal and marine conservation education. For example, each year in the Seychelles, the Ministry of Tourism collaborates with diving centres and the Ministry of Education to organize a festival of underwater photography, the ‘SUBIOS’ festival. Included in the annual programme of activities are art and creative writing competitions for sch o o l ch i l d re n , wh i ch are taken up as co-curricular activities by art and language teachers. This popular event provides an excellent opportunity for students and teachers to get involved in learning about coastal a reas. In add i t i o n , SUBIOS guest speakers (internationally renowned underwater photographers and marine biologists) make presentations in schools on a range of topics related to the marine environment.
A local non-gove rnmental orga n i z at i o n , Wi l d l i fe Clubs of Sey chelles (WCS), wo rks in close collab o ration with the Ministry of Education to co-o rd i n ate a netwo rk of ex t ra - c u rri c u l a r e nv i ronment and wildlife clubs in schools. W C S o rga n i zes training sessions for club leaders to fa m i l i a ri ze them with local wildlife and conservation issues. Many of these clubs wo rk on activities pertinent to sustainable coastal deve l o pm e n t , s u ch as monitoring coastal wildlife, v i s i ting coastal hab i t at s , t ree planting along coastal a re a s , visiting marine park s , cleaning beach e s e t c. In Ju n e, 1 9 9 8 , in re c ognition of the Year of the Ocean, all the wildlife clubs joined toge t h e r for a march through the capital to promote the p rotection of oceans and marine life. More re c e n t ly, clubs orga n i zed and perfo rmed a va riety show for the ge n e ral publ i c, wh i ch fo c u s e d on the protection of the marine env i ronment. A t p re s e n t , WCS is wo rking on a coastal and mari n e a c t ivity book for ch i l d re n , wh i ch will include a va riety of indoor and outdoor activities to help ch i l d ren learn about the marine env i ronment and p a rt i c i p ate in conservat i o n .
The Ministry of Education also works in partnership with the Division of Environment (DOE), which is mandated to co-ordinate environmental education initiat ives targeting the general public. The DOE works alongside the media (television, radio and newspapers) to produce regular articles, and television and radio p rogra m m e s , wh i ch often focus on coastal development issues as well as school environmental initiatives in this domain. In general, the situation in the Seychelles at the moment is conducive to environmental education initiatives, particularly in primary and secondary schools where there now exists a network of committed and enthusiastic teachers. The Ministry of Education’s close partnership with the Division of Environment and Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles is producing results: we are slowly beginning to see the development of a new generation of youth concerned about, and committed to, sustainability, including sustainable coastal development.
H oweve r, t h e re still remains room for furt h e r d evelopment and new initiat ive s , p a rt i c u l a rly in t e rms of strengthening our co-o p e ration with other small island states. Th rough our part i c i p ation in the technical wo rkshop in Map u t o , M o z a m b i q u e, on ‘ S u s t a i n able Integrated Coastal M a n age m e n t : The Role of Education and Commu n i c at i o n ’ , we hope to establish new contacts with other individuals and orga n i z ations so that we can learn from them and share our ex p e ri e n c e.