Schools to the Sea is an educational awareness programme run by Buccaneers Dive Centre which was set up in order to enhance environmental awareness of marine conservation and environmental issues for the various communities in and around the Mombasa coastline. GVI has been involved with Sea for Schools for the past year, run from the Voyager Hotel, Nyali. The programme involves children from schools who would ordinarily be unable to have access to marine parks, aiding the development of their environmental awareness.
Olives Rehabilitation Centre was the latest school to participate in the Sea for Schools programme, involving Standard 7. The programme is a one day activity which begins with the students undergoing a half hour induction of what the day will entail, at the Voyager Hotel. The students are then taught how to use the snorkeling equipment correctly within the confinements of the Voyager swimming pool. As none of the participating students had ever used any form of snorkeling equipment, they struggled with using them initially, and could not master the ability to breathe through the snorkel under the water, as this is a completely alien experience for them. However with practice the students gained their confidence and were able to use the equipment effectively.
Following this the students are then provided with lunch (burgers and chips) which becomes one of the high lights of the day as most of these children know of this meal but have never had the opportunity to enjoy such food items. The Voyager provides both use of the pool whilst training the students, and the provision of lunch.
After lunch Buccaneers carry out a 45 minute presentation detailing information of the marine ecosystems, biodiversity and environmental issues and conservation. These include conscientious waste management practices, over fishing and the importance of the different marine species (both flora and fauna) in maintaining a healthy and functional ecosystem. The students learn a great deal from the presentation generating a wealth of questions ranging from the diet of marine species to the function of coral reefs.
The final activity of the programme is taking a glass bottom boat out to the reef, which is provided by Buccaneers. This allows the children to have direct access to the marine life and the reef, and are able to observe the marine ecosystem directly. Following this the students are then able to snorkel with the assistance of life jackets and ample supervision (GVI volunteers, and trained Buccaneer Dive Masters), to experience accouter the marine life.
Environmental conservation is paramount to ensuring the long term sustainability of the fragile costal marine ecosystem which makes up the Mombasa coastline. By teaching the younger generations to engage with their environment in a conscientious and environmentally sound manner, the marine ecosystems have a greater chance of long term survival. The younger generations are a key influence on the future of the coastline, and the importance of social and environmental interaction on future sustainability.
GVI are currently working towards ensuring that Sea for Schools becomes a more regular activity resulting in more in-depth knowledge of the environment and also giving them an opportunity to learn and experience things which would otherwise be unattainable for them.