Educators in Papua New Guinea Tackle Water Issues With New Project WET Materials

Local educators included not only classroom teachers but also corporate volunteersLocal educators included not only classroom teachers but also corporate volunteers Some 20 local educators—primary and secondary classroom teachers in public and private schools, corporate volunteers, government officials and NGO representatives—have learned new ways to teach kids about water using an education module customized for Papua New Guinea. A two-day workshop introduced educators to the new booklet, which has seven activities covering a variety of water topics, including the water cycle, water quality, watershed protection and water, sanitation and hygiene. And according to Project WET Senior Vice President John Etgen, who traveled to Papua New Guinea to conduct the training, the newly trained educators are excited to start using the new resource.

Educators learned to use the new module during a two-day training workshopEducators learned to use the new module during a two-day training workshop “The feedback from educators about the new materials has been extremely positive,” John said. “They found the activities highly engaging, with science concepts that are clear thanks to being taught in an interactive way. Several educators told me that they can’t wait to teach kids about water with the new module.”

Map of Papua New Guinea courtesy of the PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at AustinMap of Papua New Guinea courtesy of the PCL Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin The workshop trained educators to work with different grade levels of students and to implement the activities into their curriculum. There was also a train-the-trainer component that will allow the program to grow beyond its initial implementation in the West New Britain Province. Held in Kimbe, the capital of West New Britain, the workshop was sponsored by New Britain Palm Oil Limited (NBPOL), a company that produces palm oil products. NBPOL also sponsored the module’s creation.

Project WET Senior Vice President John Etgen with kids in Papua New GuineaJohn with some of Papua New Guinea's younger generation, the next generation of leaders The program’s initial roll out will occur in West New Britain, with the long-term plan to scale up the program in the other four provinces of Papua New Guinea in which NBPOL operates. The island nation of Papua New Guinea is home to many important aquatic ecosystems, including the bay on which Kimbe sits, which boasts more than 60 percent of the coral species of the entire Indo-Pacific. The country also faces significant water challenges. A 2016 report from the nonprofit Wateraid singled out Papua New Guinea as having the world’s poorest access to clean water, with 60 percent of the population living without a safe water supply. Moreover, a changing climate is leading to a host of water-related problems, including rising sea levels.

Papua New Guinea Activity Guide for EducatorsIn a letter in the introduction to the new Papua New Guinea Activity Guide for Educators, NBPOL Sustainability Manager for West New Britain Peter Callister said that the company “understands that to achieve true sustainability, NBPOL needs to extend its principles and influence outside of the operations into the wider community.”

“An important way to [achieve sustainability] is through the education of the younger generation, as they will grow to be the next generation of leaders and users of the environment in which we operate,” Callister said. “As such, we are excited to endeavor on this partnership with the Project WET Foundation to provide the latest in water and watershed management education material for teachers, with the hope that this information enables communities within the provinces that NBPOL operates to make informed management practices and choices with one of our most valuable resources.”

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