Green lessons for school kids – in lap of nature

Lucknow, Nov 20 ( Imagine riding through a lush green forest, soaking in lessons on the environment. That’s what many school students in Uttar Pradesh are about to experience, thanks to the officials of a wildlife sanctuary.

The Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Bahraich district, some 270 km from Lucknow, has taken the initiative to bring in school students from parts of the state and hold educational camps within the sanctuary.

“The entire exercise is aimed at sensitising the young generation towards nature. I believe in order to conserve nature, one should first feel it. And here the students will get that feel, which in turn would immensely contribute to our educational programmes,” divisional forest officer (DFO) of Katerniaghat R.K. Singh told IANS on telephone.

Established in 1976, the sanctuary is situated in the Terai area on the India-Nepal border in Bahraich district. Spread over 400 sq km, it is home to a variety of animals such as tigers, leopards, swamp deer, blackbuck, chital, barking deer, sloth bear, wild boar, and a number of endangered species of reptiles.

“We plan to start the education programme Dec 1. Initially, students of schools in Bahraich and its adjoining districts would be covered. On various weekends, the students would be brought to the sanctuary where the educational camps would be organised,” said Singh.

The educational programmes will focus on several topics, including conservation of fauna and flora for the sake of mankind and man-animal conflicts, and involve a ride through the forests and lunch arranged by forest officials.

“This would be done in order to make the educational camps more lively. Such arrangements would help make school children take interest in our programmes,” said Singh.

The forest officials have already roped in a number of schools in Bahraich, Shravasti, Lakhimpur and other districts.

Usha Varshney, a science teacher at the Seventh-Day Adventist School in Bahraich, told IANS: “The initiative is laudable. The best thing is it will definitely make environmental teaching more interesting and lively.”

Pradeep Kumar, a teacher with the Dharm Sabha Inter College, said: “We welcome the novel step taken by the wildlife sanctuary officials. The move will definitely generate a sense of responsibility towards nature.”

Children are also excited about the educational camps.

“For us, it would be fun. It would be a sort of picnic for us, where we would also get a chance to learn several things by our practical experience – something not possible in conventional classroom teaching,” said Achal Chitarnshi, a Class 11 student of the Navuday Inter College in Bahraich.

Forest officials believe it is crucial to involve the young generation to spread environmental awareness.

“In today’s perspective, you just cannot ignore the role of school students in safeguarding the environment through social mobilisation and community participation,” a forest official said.