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ANAK-Balayan's Approach in Promoting Environmental Education

Batangas Province, Philippines — For almost three years now, a group of dedicated members and leaders of ANAK-Balayan has been visiting schools and communities in Batangas Province, Philippines, in an effort to impart environmental information. Currently, environmental education in public schools is subsumed under science and technology classes but discussions are sometimes limited. This may perhaps explain the limited appreciation of students when it comes to applying practical environmental management skills in their daily lives.

"We discussed with the schools how we can involve the students in the activities of the Federation and we are fortunate that they agreed to provide us with time to present some basic environmental concepts," Filmoore Gadon, Federation President of Ang Nagkakaisang Mamamayang Kostal ng Balayan (ANAK-Balayan) said. He added that the schools usually provide the necessary logistical requirements while the Federation develops the content of these education campaigns. "Our approach is to conduct these information and education campaigns with a mix of formal and informal techniques. Aside from conducting room-to-room discussions, we make it a habit to involve students in community activities, such as cleanups, information drives and fund-raising activities. People will easily grasp concepts if these are used in actual activities," he added. One such example is the series of activities done in celebration of the International Coastal Cleanup in September 2007. Using the results of the water quality monitoring conducted with the Batangas Provincial Government-Environment and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO), the Federation enticed various sectors of Balayan to join the coastal cleanup by simplifying and disseminating information. Although dissemination of results is regularly facilitated during the meetings of its member organizations, the Federation took advantage of the occasion to elevate the level of concern into concrete action. Aside from mobilizing about 760 community members during the municipal-wide cleanup, a seminar on biodiversity conservation was also conducted. The activity culminated in a competition for best material developed from recyclables, designed to encourage ingenuity and instill the habit of recycling. Today, the Federation continues to conduct information campaigns on basic environmental education activities and also targets women and out-of-school youth in their activities. Through its member organization at the local level and initiatives to engage a multitude of stakeholders from business organizations to local schools, the Federation is able to make a concerted effort to promote sustainable coastal management in Balayan. "We hope that we can get the other municipalities and the residents from the upland area to implement similar initiatives in the future. We cannot disregard the impact of activities in nearby municipalities. Even if we conduct cleanups everyday, wastes from other municipalities will just come to us, so they also need to start looking after their own coasts." The initiatives of ANAK-Balayan in information, education and communication campaigns are also being strengthened by the continuous process of learning and capacity building among leaders and IEC officials. During the second half of 2007, a series of leadership and skills training were held to enhance the spirit of volunteerism and how such changes can have a "domino effect" in the municipality. ANAK-Balayan is a recipient of a project grant in support of multisectoral partnership building for the sustainable development of the municipal waters of Balayan, under the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP)-PEMSEA joint communiqué.