Operation Santa Claus

Youngsters to gain better appreciation for nature via outdoor courses

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 December, 2012, 3:48am

One way to conserve ecologically valuable sites would be to teach youngsters to be "watchdogs" of the natural world, in the view of one green group.

WWF Hong Kong is forming partnerships with schools to organise outdoor learning activities for students. They will focus on schools located near ecological hotspots and attended by a relatively large proportion of children from less well-off families.

"We hope to equip them to be watchdogs of the environment," said WWF education officer Stephen Chung Siu-fung.

Many ecological hotspots, such as Long Valley and Nam Sang Wai, are in less developed parts of Hong Kong. Many pupils of the schools in those areas are from poor families and normally cannot afford field trips.

They may not be aware of the ecological value of the environment around them, Chung said.

Operation Santa Claus will be raising funds for the programme to run next year. The teachers will receive training and pupils will be taken on several field trips.

The pupils will be provided with tablet computers during the trips and learn about the sites using a mobile application developed by the fund. They will do a project report on the trips as a part of their liberal studies curriculum.

Lam Pui-yee, the liberal studies panel head at Elegantia College in Sheung Shui, one of the schools taking part, said the idea was not to single out poorer students. Rather, it's to give them more diversified learning opportunities along with the other pupils.

She hopes the programme will teach the children to compare different levels of development by visiting the sites, and understand the viewpoints of different stakeholders involved in development.

Such hands-on learning leaves a deeper impression on pupils than classroom sessions, she said: "They gain knowledge in classrooms.

"But if they don't have strong feelings about the issues, they won't gain a deeper understanding."