Kids in uniform looked a bit surprised when we entered the school. We walked through the corridor and looked into old-fashioned classrooms on our way to Eny, the tourism teacher. She had already taken her place in one of the chairs that still have tables attached to it. Awesome! I got to sit in one of those chairs!
What is your link to environmental classes in this school?
I guide a team of 40 kids between 12 and 17 years old, who sustain a nature trail next to our school. They are responsible for bookings and administration and for the condition of the trail.
Do you also teach about the topic of plastic pollution?
On the trail we often find rubbish and it is the childrens’ responsibility to take it away. I also show films about pollution in our classes and on how they effect animals.
Is the topic alive for Panamese schoolkids?
Not so much, I am afraid. I do teach about the topic, but at the end of the day, this classroom is still covered in candy wrappers and crisp packages. I think 40% out of 100% of the students in this school is aware.
I heard that Panamese primary school children get classes about the environment?
Those classes are very general. And everything depends on the teacher who teaches them. The kids here, for example, do not know how to recycle, even though we were donated recycling bins.
What goal do you have for the school about this topic?
I would really like to make a model that is also applicable for other schools on how to teach about recycling. A simple step-by-step plan.
If somebody in Europe reads this interview and has a model for these classes, would it help to send it to you?
I think what would really help is if the Ministry of Education understood the importance of good education about environmental topics like recycling. Then they could spread it in the schools. Motivated teachers can always start teaching things on their own, but we only get paid for the regular classes we teach, so even I do not have time to teach about recycling.
So what would it take for the Ministry of Education to make the decision to focus on environmental classes?
Money. The more money they get for it, the more schools they will include in these programmes.
Would it help if the recycling team that gave you the bins would offer classes in your school?
I think it would…
After the interview, she showed us a greenhouse made out of bottles by the argriculture project and a couple of artificial swans, made out of car tires. Believe it or not, but on our way back it started to rain heavily and a car gave us a ride. It turned out that we got a ride from the director of that same school. He told us the schools aim is to be as environmentally con’scious as possible. It think you could tell by many aspects. I hope the Ministry for Education will follow through so the school can start implementing step-by-step classes on how to deal with things like deforestation and plastic pollution.