30 Apr 2013

Kiribati schools get climate change book

5:55 pm on 30 April 2013

A book which aims to teach primary school children in Kiribati about climate change has gained interest from around the world, with requests to print the book in several languages.

The book, called, "The Children Take Action - A Climate Change Story", was developed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and aims to help children learn about the basics of climate change and its impacts on the environment.

Seema Deo is SPREP's communications and outreach advisor, and she told Jamie Tahana what it's all about.

DEO: "It's actually an idea that's come out from some of the work SPREP has been doing in the past few years with trying to find ways to teach young people about climate change. And we found that it's a little bit of a challenge to teach the science, as well as the possible impacts of climate change to the very young. So we thought we'd try something a little bit different and go with storytelling. That's basically what's happened. We tried to take away our technical and scientific hats and put on a creative bent and worked with an illustrator and artist who helped put a little colourful booklet together, basically."

TAHANA: "In the book itself, you've compared climate change to when you're sick and being wrapped in a blanket. Is this getting the message across?"

DEO: "We're just waiting to find out how things are going with the book and how it's being used. What we've found is that if you use analogies with taking science concepts to something that children can actually relate to, it just helps them get a better picture of what's going on. The use of the blanket analogy is actually quite a common one when talking about greenhouse gases and the way the planet works. So we feel that little stories like that help kids ask questions, which then allow teachers and parents to take further steps to actually teach the science as kids get older."

TAHANA: "What kind of feedback have you been having about this? Is it working, do you think?"

DEO: "When we were producing the book at the early stages, we actually had several focus groups, both with parents, teachers, and younger children. And through the focus groups we were assured that the basics of climate change were getting through to the kids. But more than that it was the fact that because it's targeted at younger children, their appreciation for the environment seemed to come out as a result of the book. So we may not be getting through on the climate change story, but we're certainly getting through on the environment, just getting kids to be aware of their natural environment and see how their actions can contribute to the betterment or otherwise of their natural environment.

TAHANA: 6,000 copies of the book have been printed and it's in I-Kiribati and English. Are there hopes of spreading this more region-wide?

DEO: We are a little bit surprised how much interest there is in this particular booklet. The Kiribati books were actually translated and printed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's GIZ programme, which is funded bythe German government. The books in Kiribati are going to be used in the primary schools as part of their official teaching programme. And since the launching of those books, we've actually received interest from several places to translate these books into all sorts of languages, including Taiwanese. And people are looking at using the pictures as is and simply translating the text. So it seems that it's resonating with all sorts of groups of people, which gives us hope that we've done something right in this area. It's probably a little bit early to say what kind of impact this is going to have, but certainly there is interest from people who are working in climate change education to use these books in different ways across the Pacific and beyond.