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Wildlife education added to syllabus

Update: April, 21/2014 - 09:06
Seventh graders at Cu Chinh Lan Secondary High School in Binh Thanh District learn about hoofed mammals. Detailed information about the animals along with their photos is being added to the seventh-grade biology syllabus in the city following a pilot programme since the end of last year. Photo Thu Hang
by Thu Hang

HCM CITY (VNS)— The last Javan rhino in Viet Nam was found dead at the Cat Tien National Park in April 2010: It had been shot by poachers for its horn, Le Thi Thuy Dung, a biology teacher at a HCM City school, tells her class.

"Now we can see the animal only in photos and videos," she tells her seventh-grade students at Cu Chinh Lan Secondary High School in Binh Thanh District, showing them the extinct rhino's photo.

Photos of endangered hoofed mammals such as gaur (Bos gaurus), sika deer (Cervus nippon pseudaxis), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) are also shown to students.

The photos and information about native hoofed mammals are integrated into the lesson, Dung said.

The changes to the syllabus were made at the end of last year with support from non-profit organisation Wildlife At Risk (WAR). It was done on a pilot basis in schools in Binh Thanh District, but is soon set to become city-wide.

"I usually search for information about various animals and their photos on the internet and add them to my curriculum," Dung said.

"But it was hard for me to find sufficient information and quality photos of native wildlife."

With the new materials and teaching aids, students can explore facts about native wildlife, including their diet, habitat, and distribution, she said.

Seventh graders have access to more than 600 photos of 400 species taken in nature.

The initiative aims to educate children about the beauty and value of wildlife and the threats they face such as illegal hunting and trade, loss of habitat through deforestation and environmental pollution.

The last Javan rhino in Viet Nam.— Photo WWF

It also aims to raise students' awareness of wildlife conservation and bio-diversity.

"I find biology classes more exciting with photos of wildlife in Viet Nam," Vo Phuc, a seventh grader at Cu Chinh Lan Secondary High School, said.

"There are many beautiful and precious wildlife species in Viet Nam, but many of them are at risk of extinction. I hope people will stop hunting wildlife and eating their meat."

Tran Van Quang, an official in charge of biology in secondary schools at the Binh Thanh District's Education and Training Office, said the syllabus mainly focuses on the role and value of wildlife and the threats to endangered wildlife as listed in the Viet Nam Red Data Book.

"The biology lessons have become more attractive and effective," he said, pointing out that students are interacting more with teachers unlike the norm in Vietnamese schools, where they merely listen to lectures from their teachers.

Nguyen Thi Viet Tu, deputy director of the Education and Training Office, said: "The inclusion of wildlife protection in grade 7 biology, supported by instruction materials and teaching aids, not only provides children with further knowledge and practical information on Viet Nam's wildlife, but also helps the lessons be more attractive and effective."

Do Thi Thanh Huyen, WAR's wildlife education manager, said: "In the long run, education is a sustainable method to attract the younger generation to participate in wildlife conservation."

The material would be updated regularly to satisfy the expectations of teachers and ensure its effectiveness, she said. —VNS

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