Nature and Environment Education
Bonaire’s economy is highly dependent on the sustainable use of its natural resources. Information and education are important tools for the conservation of Bonaire’s nature, along with the management of protected areas, law enforcement, and biological research.
The significance of education cannot be underestimated. If STINAPA Bonaire is to succeed in its charge of caring for Bonaire’s nature on behalf of the Island Government, the local population must be in support of our nature and environmental policy. This support will only be given when people are environmentally aware. The awareness can only be created through education and information.
Thus in 1997 a project to provide Bonaire’s schools with information on nature and environmental issues was initiated. STINAPA Bonaire, working jointly with other nature NGO’s (non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations) on Bonaire, was behind the project. The World Wildlife Fund Netherlands (WWF-NL) provided financial support.
As a result of this project, the concept of Educational Boxes for schools was developed, along with the creation of the first few boxes. Many additional Educational Boxes have been developed since then. Outdoor activities have also been created to take the school children outside and educate them about the natural environment.
The Education Unit of STINAPA has received a great deal of financial help from donors and financial agencies. Initial funding was from WWF-NL. Then, for several years, funding for the Education Coordinator’s position came from SELIBON (Servisio di Limpiesa di Boneiru), Bonaire’s sanitation department. They had the budget for education and our department created the materials for them and implemented the program. After that, the government subsidized the basic salary of the Education Coordinator, and Aliansa di Naturalesa di Bonaire (Nature Alliance of Bonaire), an association of Bonaire’s nature NGO’s, the remainder. STINAPA covered the office costs and overhead.
Bonaire’s government recognizes that nature education is important and that providing education is one of their primary tasks. Still, nature education wasn’t taught in Bonaire’s schools until STINAPA took the initiative to do so. The government has committed itself to subsidizing STINAPA’s Educational Coordinator position.
Since April 2005, with the initiation of Bonaire’s Nature fee, STINAPA has been able to pay the part of the Educational Coordinator’s salary which is not being covered by the government, as well as Education Department overhead, social benefits, and miscellaneous expenses. The Nature Fee also made it possible for us to fill the Communication Coordinator position; one responsibility of this position will be implementing an island-wide awareness campaign, funded by WWF-NL, about nature preservation on Bonaire.
STINAPA Bonaire’s classroom and field activities are in the curriculum of all elementary schools for students from the 1st grade through the 8th grade. They are all are classified under the “Wild4Life” program. The first part of the school year consists of classroom presentations, the latter part of the year takes the child out of the classroom into nature through the field activities.
Classroom activities are:
Grade 5: Reforestation Presentation
Grade 6: Bats
Grade 7: Migratory Birds
Grade 8: Sharks
Grade 1: Animal Shelter with “love4pets”
Grade 2: Donkey Sanctuary with “love4donkeys”
Grade 3: Lorapath
Grade 4: Coastal life
Grade 5: Animal path
Grade 5: Reforestation Day
Grade 6: Rocky coast
Grade 7: Wheel of Nature
Grade 7: Bird watching
Grade 8: Sharks