Marine Education and Awareness

Mahonia Na Dari’s marine education and awareness program has proven to be a powerful tool in building support for conservation, increasing environmental awareness and inspiring local action to protect reefs, waterways, turtle nesting areas, sea grass beds, mangrove areas and cultural sites. It has three main components.

            • The Marine Environmental Education Program (MEEP)

            • Field excursions

            • Outreach activities

The Marine Environmental Education Programme (MEEP) 

The Marine Environment Education Program (MEEP) was first developed in 1997 and targeted secondary school children in the Kimbe area.

Today it runs as four programs targeting secondary school students (Intensive MEEP), Grade 9 primary school students (Junior MEEP), primary school teachers, (Teachers MEEP) and Elementary school students (Baby MEEP).

Sections of the MND MEEP manual have been incorporated into the mainstream primary school curriculum under the Curriculum Reform Implementation Project (an AusAid and PNG government initiative), recognizing the value of the program. A draft manual will become an official resource material for primary and secondary school teachers.

INTENSIVE MEEP.  currently runs at 9 to 10 day program, repeated 3 times per year with a maximum intake of 20 students per session. Classes spread over 9 to 10 weeks of one day per week, and include classroom theory and extensive practical sessions. The 20 students who are selected to complete the course learn general reef biology, environmental problems of the pacific islands, ways to protect marine ecosystems, and the importance of marine resource management. Students also learn about basic coral reef survey and data collection techniques. When possible visiting researchers and scientists will contribute to the program explaining their research activities and demonstrating practical field biology. Although most of the students come from coastal areas, many are not familiar with the underwater side of the marine environment. Snorkeling and boat trips to a variety of reefs show the students both the fragile nature and abundance of life associated with these environments.

JUNIOR MEEP. The MEEP program has also been adapted to suit students in primary school and each year grade 9 students attend the modified classes.

BABY MEEP. This MEEP program targets elementary school students aged between 6 and 10. Their course is one day per week for three weeks and involves storytelling, reef walks, videos, drawing and puppet shows.

TEACHERS MEEP. Primary teachers do not currently receive any training in marine or environmental studies. Mahonia Na Dari has designed a teachers workshop lasting 5-10 days to help equip these teachers with the information and skills they need. Each year up to 20 teachers from the Talasea, Hoskins or Bialla inspectorates (and further afield if funding is available) attend this workshop.

MEEP Graduates in PNG are encouraged to contact Mahonia Na Dari and let us know how their participation in the Program has influenced them in future endeavors. Schools and community groups interested in participating in one of the MEEP programs, should contact Mahonia.

Field Excursions

Field excursions run by Mahonia Na Dari, based at Walindi Nature Centre, take many forms depending on the specific requests from the community and schools. Community groups sometimes want those placed in positions of responsibility regarding marine resources to have the opportunity for hands on experience of coral reefs and their inter-relationship with reef inhabitants.

Similarly, secondary school students with a particular interest in the marine environment can request a Biology Field Excursion or Intensive MEEP. Students then have practical hands on sessions in subjects and issues of their choice.

Primary and elementary students are also catered for along with other interested groups. The participants can come from anywhere in the country or overseas for up to five days at a time. The groups are accommodated in the dormitory style facility at Walindi Nature Centre with options for catered or self catering available. Mahonia Na Dari staff conduct the program with input from visiting scientists and researchers.

Costs and facilities available are listed under the Research page.

   Students attending a marine field excursion at Mahonia Na Dari. Photo by Steven Aparo

Outreach Activities

In order to deliver its educational message to as many people as possible, Mahonia conducts outreach activities, visiting schools and villages both in West New Britain and further afield.

These outreach activities are suitable for adults and students and are conducted by Mahonia Na Dari staff and trained marine educators. Although style and content will differ to suit both the topic in question and target audience, this work has allowed discussion about important issues including over-harvesting, dynamite fishing and pollution. There is a very popular puppet show, conducted in pidgin, which outlines the damaging effects of “poison rope” and dynamite fishing. “Poison rope” fishing uses a highly toxic substance derived from a local plant known as derris root, which kills fish indiscriminately and also affects corals.

   Primary School students from Bereme Community School visiting Mahonia Na Dari. Photo by Lorna Romaso