Sorong, West Papua (ANTARA) - Environmental education is crucial for today's communities to educate them to preserve nature for the sake of future sustainability.

In order to instill a sense of love for nature and care for the environment, environmental modules are taught since early childhood in Fakfak District, West Papua Province.

Environmental education for early childhood (PLH) in Fakfak, West Papua, is intensively conducted by the Indonesian Conservation Foundation (YKI).

Collaborating with the Fakfak Mengajar Institute, which involves youth in Fakfak to raise awareness of the importance of education, YKI encourages the realization of PLH.

Both institutes hold related activities in the Teluk Berau coastal conservation park and the Teluk Nusalasi-Van Den Bosch coastal park, which is a fish cultivation area.

A member of Fakfak Mengajar, Kartika Dwi Cahyanti, stated in Fakfak on Thursday that her side strives for pushing educational actions in both coastal parks by training teachers.

Cahyanti drew attention to the environmental education trainer program for elementary school teachers in the marine conservation areas.

According to Cahyanti, the environmental education modules created by the YKI were handed over to Fakfak Mengajar to conduct training sessions for elementary school teachers in the Fakfak marine conservation areas.

She noted that after the training, teachers are expected to teach the materials to their students.

Cahyanti explained that the PLH program is targeted at elementary school children from fourth grade to sixth grade.

The targeted students are those living in villages in Teluk Berau and Teluk Nusalasi-Van Den Bosch. Environment education is not exclusive to those upper-class students, as she said, students in grades one to three are also included.

Furthermore, Cahyanti pointed out that the PLH training program is not only taught to elementary school teachers in the Fakfak conservation areas but also to the community and traditional leaders to participate in educating children.

"The program is already running, and all elementary schools in the marine conservation areas of the Teluk Berau and Teluk Nusalasi-Van Den Bosch have been given the PLH," she stated.

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Meanwhile, the Indonesian Conservation Foundation for Environmental Education and Conservation Education staff, Fitriyanti Killian, said that Fakfak District has two marine conservation areas that continue to be maintained, so that they can be enjoyed by future generations.

She noted that in order to preserve the two areas, the foundation works along with Fakfak Mengajar to teach children about the sustainability of aquatic and forest ecosystems.

If the village has fewer fourth- to sixth-grade students, then the module is taught to all students of the first to sixth grades, she explained.

Killian highlighted that the module pattern is by learning while playing outdoors by using tools that make it easier for children to understand how to nurture marine life and protected animals.

The PLH activities contain nine materials to help children understand the concept of conservation, she noted.

The module is called "from the mountain to the sea," with the subjects spanning from teaching about protected land animals to protected marine animals, she noted.

In addition, the material talks about the preservation of clean water as well as "where the garbage goes."

Specifically, in the material "where the garbage goes," children are invited to play in the mountains to witness people throwing garbage in natural spaces where the waste flows into the river and to the sea and eventually damages the coral reef ecosystem.

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Another material discusses three types of forests: conservation forests, production forests, and protected forests.

So far, Killian said, only adults receive ample training and education about environment and conservation, while children rarely receive similar attention.

Hence, she noted that environmental and conservation education is useful to enlighten children, as she deemed they are quite innocent and those who have been educated can immediately reprimand adults, who pollute the earth through acts, such as littering.

She also expressed optimism that the environmental education module would be included in the local curriculum at every elementary school in Fakfak.

Support for environmental education for minors residing in Fakfak District is also encouraged by the Kitong Bisa Learning Centre or KBLC, with the "Our Generation Conserves" movement.

A Fakfak District KBLC official, Fuad Uswanas, stated that in the movement aiming to create a generation that cares about the environment, his side cooperates with the Indonesian Conservation Foundation.

According to Uswanas, the ongoing program under the collaboration aims to provide environmental education materials for college students on campus and elementary school students about the importance of preserving nature for sustainable living in the future.

"We will continue to campaign for the importance of protecting the environment, such as not to litter and reduce plastic waste for the younger generation in Fakfak District," he added.

Fakfak Deputy District Head, Yohana Dina Hindom, praised the YKI for assisting the communities to conduct natural preservation, especially around Teluk Berau and Teluk Nusalasi-Van Den Bosch.

Hindom said that the local government supports the foundation's programs to encourage indigenous people to utilize conservation areas sustainably.

"One of the problems that needs serious attention from all parties in Fakfak District is the problem of plastic waste," she emphasized.

To this end, Hindom pushed for the movement of reducing plastic waste that will have an impact on the diversity of marine life.

"I invite all communities to reduce the use of plastic and not throw plastic waste into the sea that will have an impact on the destruction of coral reef ecosystems and life around them," she concluded.

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Editor: Suharto
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