Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

Field Project Summary
Education for sustainable village living, Saanapu and Sataoa villages, Upolu Island, Samoa.

Revision Date:

1st November, 2000.

Title:  Education for sustainable village living, Saanapu and Sataoa villages, Upolu Island, Samoa.
Goals: To address environment and development problems such as resource depletion, waste disposal and pollution, through innovative coupling of indigenous knowledge and practice with contemporary science and technology;
to ensure strong community participation with a particular focus on involving school children, youth and the local community in project activities to strengthen, in a complementary manner, indigenous knowledge, practice, cultural identity and self-esteem;
to strengthen local values associated with mangroves and swamps as sources of food, medicine and other traditional products, as well as places of social/spiritual significance.
Location: Saanapu-Sataoa Mangrove Conservation Area, Saanapu and Sataoa villages, Upolu Island, Samoa.
Starting date: The project was expected to begin in 1998, however due to various factors it was only initiated in June 2000.
Partners: Government of Samoa through the Department of Education and the Department of Lands, Surveys, and Environment; National University of Samoa; Saanapu and Sataoa Villages; Saanapu and Sataoa Primary Schools; UNESCO: Education Sector Associated Schools Project, Coastal Regions and Small Islands platform.
Pilot project leader: Peter Varghese, Chief Education Officer, Curriculum Development Unit, Department of Education, Apia, Samoa.
Tel: 685 24614, Fax: 685 20004, e-mail jjjdv@samoa.ws

The project works with two village UNESCO-Associated Schools Project (ASP) schools, Samoan secondary schools, and the local community in order to further the protection of natural heritage through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity while strengthening cultural identity through the recognition and innovative application of indigenous ecological knowledge and practice.

The pilot project has two major activities.

(1)  Opportunities will be provided for primary and secondary school students to develop an understanding and appreciation of the importance and usefulness of mangrove systems. This will be achieved through the development of a locally adapted mangrove field study guide booklet for primary and secondary school usage, based on organized field study visits to mangrove conservation areas. A further activity is to develop an illustrated resource book, of international quality, on Samoa’s mangrove ecosystems.
Mr Asipa Pati, a senior lecturer in Biology from the National University of Samoa, coordinates this activity. He is assisted by senior secondary and primary school teachers, personnel from the Curriculum Development Unit, and the Department of Lands and Environment.
(2) Traditional knowledge relating to key coastal resources and management practices will be recorded using Samoan advisers, personnel from the Department of Lands, Surveys and Environment, social science experts, and curriculum advisers. Information gathered will be compiled in a bilingual report to be published by end-October 2000 covering the following information:
  • Traditional knowledge of key coastal resources, including specialized terms in Samoan language, indigenous concepts of ecosystem functions, and traditional management regimes;    

  • Identification of threats and risks to the Samoan coastal environment, their causes, and culturally and socially appropriate solutions.

It is hoped that the report will help the community to discover the symptoms and causes of environmental problems, understand their complexity and hence the need to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, and stimulate the optional use of local knowledge and skills.
The component is coordinated by Dr Asofou So’o of the National University of Samoa and his team of researchers.
Achievements & Assessment: (1) The group made its initial visit to the conservation area on 17 June 2000 to familiarize itself with the area and to discuss and design field study activities. Work has been initiated on the field study activities and booklet, which will be field-tested before the camera-ready material is prepared, scheduled for the end of September.  A digital camera has been purchased to capture high quality photographs of the rich biodiversity of the conservation area. Photographs will serve to illustrate the resource book on Samoa’s mangrove ecosystems.
(2) The group started interviews on 6 June 2000, and have so far interviewed a select group of approximately 30 individuals, comprising primary school teachers, students, parents, community leaders, and community members knowledgeable of traditional management practices. It is expected that about 80 people will be interviewed by the end of July, completing field data collection activities, after which a report will be prepared.
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