Environmental Education in Rodrigues  
School community projects-Planting of endemic shrubs in school garden
© MWF Rodrigues

In Rodrigues, we have a well-established and successful education programme, The Rodrigues Environmental Education Programme (REEP), working closely with all primary and secondary schools as well as local communities, involving them directly with our conservation work. 

We believe that conservation must occur hand-in-hand with education in order to be successful. In 1998, working in partnership with the Philadelphia Zoo the Rodrigues Environmental Education Programme (REEP) was established, aimed at working with primary and secondary schools and local communities. MWF liaises with the Commission for Education, part of Rodrigues Regional Assembly, and has been giving talks in primary schools since 2000 and secondary schools since 1998. Topics covered include water cycle and pollution, plants and animals in the environment, and endemic plants, and these are integrated with the science, history and geography elements of the curriculum.

School community projects are also an effective way to involve both children and teachers in environmental issues, and include the planting of endemic shrubs in school gardens or playground areas. We provide the expertise and then the teachers, parents and children take on the project on a day-to-day basis.

Education Programme in Rodrigues
© MWF Rodrigues

Educational talks are given in the villages and field outings are organized to the nursery and nature reserves so that Rodriguans understand the importance of restoration work and the protection of their island’s biodiversity. Educational material including posters, stickers, bookmarks, and screensavers are produced and distributed across the island.

MWF’s environmental educator is also active in organizing volunteer days, village talks, donations of plants to village groups, newspaper articles and radio talks, ensuring that the local community is included in the conservation process.

Plant Donations for Village Planting Project REEP
© MWF Rodrigues

The effects of education are difficult to measure but we note that Rodrigues is an environmentally responsible island, aspiring to become an ‘ile ecologique’. Today, most of its citizens are aware of the uniqueness of its biodiversity.  One success has been the focus of this education programme, the Rodrigues Fruit Bat.   Thanks to the constant financial support of Philadelphia Zoo over 20 years and with access to advice and expertise, MWF has been able to continue the education programme in a consistent manner to educate each generation of Rodriguan children.  The Rodrigues Fruit Bat, free of persecution and benefiting from increased forest cover has grown from a population low of 70 to 100 bats in the 1970’s, to 3,500-4,000 bats in 1997, to over 20,000 bats in 2017.  Once the world’s rarest bat and ‘critically endangered’ the IUCN has recently been downlisted the bat to ‘endangered’ ( http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/18755/0) .