WasteLess Auroville & TN govt. launch educational programme to raise awareness on plastic pollution
WasteLess Auroville and Tamil Nadu govt. launch educational programme to raise awareness of microplastics and marine plastic pollution
In a first-of-its kind initiative, WasteLess, a non-profit organisation from Auroville, in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu government, on Friday rolled out Sea Change, a comprehensive educational programme to raise awareness, among government school students of Classes VI, VII and VIII, of microplastics and marine plastic pollution.
Created by the Auroville WasteLess team, the programme uses engaging interactive and experiential teaching methods, such as games, experiments, and stories in comic form, to share the latest science on microplastics and marine plastic pollution. The curriculum was created by WasteLess, piloted over the last three years with the support of Ramco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund, and funded in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society. The first phase of the programme was launched on October 29 in Tiruchi.
To cover 200 schools
According to Ribhu Vohra, co-founder of WasteLess and National Geographic Explorer, the programme will be offered at 200 schools in Tiruchi, Virudhunagar, and Villupuram, benefiting 10,000 students. As many as 127 schools in Villupuram district will be part of it.
The team from WasteLess spent about one-and-a-half years during the pandemic conducting research on marine plastic pollution. “We realised that the biggest problem is that plastic is breaking into millions of pieces (microplastics) and this is going everywhere. We could be eating up to 5 gm of microplastics a week, 20 gm a month, and that is equivalent to 3 ballpoint pens. We wanted to educate children about this and in the next two years, the WasteLess team will be working with children and teachers of Classes VI, VII and VIII in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu to design and test this programme,” according to Mr. Vohra.
WasteLess will conduct a randomised social impact trial study to see the impact of this programme on education, attitude, knowledge, and beliefs. “Once we track the social impact, we are going to make a White Paper and also translate this into Hindi,” he said, adding that 60 teachers from government schools in Villupuram received the teaching kits at the culmination of their week-long training programme on Friday.
Through Sea Change, pioneering government school teachers will lead the way in imparting this important education on global challenges to more young minds across the world, Mr. Vohra said.
From November to January, students of these 200 government schools in the three districts will complete a seven-lesson programme culminating in a Sea Change celebration, where students will educate their parents and peers. More than 1.2 million students in 45,000 schools across the world have received educational materials from WasteLess, showing the importance of Auroville projects for Tamil Nadu and India.
According to Savarigi Moorthy of WasteLess, the programme will empower students. “The open house experience, something we all grew up with in Auroville, has been woven into this curriculum design. Students are going to be teachers and educate other students, teachers, and their parents in a Sea Change celebration before Pongal.”
According to Nirmala Raja, chairperson of Ramco Community Services and member of the Governing Council on Climate Change, “We have first-hand experience of the power of education and the innovations from WasteLess in Auroville. The programmes have transformed our schools and students.”
According to Chandrah Nusselein, co-founder of WasteLess, “With education, we have the opportunity to plant a seed in the new generation to grow a sustainable future.”