It is a fact that natural science taught in tropical schools suffers through having evolved from that of temperate countries, and this may be said not only of its content, but of the methods used in teaching it. The long ‘dead’ winter of the temperate zones, connected to what is generally an urban environment, has encouraged an indoor approach to the subject, based on the study of dead specimens and of books which we who teach in the tropics have less need to impose on ourselves. We are fortunate to work where direct contact with plants and animals in their natural habitats is usually possible at all seasons of the year.
Exploiting this asset, especially when introducing biology in the fourth year of secondary school, would seem to hold considerable advantages. Then our students are most likely to come to appreciate the subject for what it is ‒ a study of plants and animals by man ‒ rather than as information to be accepted and memorized. A prior acquaintance with living plants and animals would provide the soundest possible background for the more systematic study of later years.
Guyana today, a developing country having come out of a period of colonialism, greatly needs to take careful and accurate stock of its resources. The development programmes are placing increasing emphasis on agriculture, particularly the need for its diversification, but it is obvious that in order to accomplish the diversification of agriculture and the improvement of our natural resources, we need to know, among other things, exactly what plants (edible and otherwise), animals and soils we have in Guyana, where they are and what their characteristics are. With such knowledge we can develop techniques for maximizing our gains from the soil, conducting research, promoting eco-tourism, creating employment and thus, go a long way towards real economic independence and indeed, lead easier lives.
Towards this end, Evergreen Nature Study Club was established on 8th September 1997, Georgetown, and soon taken to secondary and primary schools in other parts of the country with the aim of awakening the curiosity of the human mind emphasizing natural science, geography, research techniques and tourism habits. To date, there are club representatives in every Administrative Region of the country, the last being Region 8, Mahdia in 2003.
Besides practical outreach projects, a number of booklets have been produced by the club, and most importantly, this year the club in collaboration with McGarrell Farm and Plant Nursery establishment has initiated a School Crop Garden Competition for secondary schools in Regions 3, 4 and 10 as a start. The prize-giving project shall have a duration of eight weeks from the 4th September to 31st October, 2017 culminating in Agriculture Month. The objective is to encourage students towards greater participatory activities in agricultural/environmental sciences in Guyana’s schools as we strive towards a green economy.
Education can be exciting. Every student knows that outdoors is fun and only copying notes in class is boring.
Congratulations to all our representatives and students in every Region of Guyana on the occasion of the Club’s Twentieth Anniversary.
Fitz H Ogle
Evergreen Nature Study Club