Lifelong Learning through Nature: our first baby steps

October 7, 2014 4:32 pm

Lifelong Learning through Nature is BirdLife Malta’s new education initiative which was launched last week by the Minister for Education and Employment, Evarist Bartolo, during an event at Għadira Nature Reserve. The 3 year, ¼ million euro project is funded by Erasmus+ under Key Action 2 meaning that it is a ‘Strategic Partnership’. But what does that mean for BirdLife Malta? And what does that mean for our education work?
As an organisation we are aware of the importance of allowing children the opportunity to connect with nature, to find out about the world around them, and to and to learn outdoors. As the famous quote says ‘with great knowledge, comes great responsibility’, and therefore BirdLife Malta is working hard to create these opportunities for connection with nature. Our current primary schools programme Dinja Waħda, field teaching visits to our nature reserves, and our junior membership Klabb Ħuttaf already work towards this objective, but now we will be able to grow and develop this area of our work even further.
The partnership includes the Ministry for Education and Employment, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), BirdWatch Ireland, and the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds (OTOP). Through the knowledge and expertise of these partners we’re going to develop new environmental education initiatives to deliver in Maltaover the next three years. But what’s in it for them?

All of our international partners have been involved in environmental education in varying degrees. RPSB have a very well established programme which reaches thousands of young people every year, for them this partnership is an opportunity to share their expertise and to improve their networking. Whereas BirdWatch Irelandand OTOP have a few education projects but are looking to develop this area of their work. For them it’s very important that the ideas tried and tested here in Maltaare well documented so that they can be used to gain support from key stakeholders in their own countries, and to transfer some of the ideas for their own implementation, adapting them where necessary. Last but not least the Ministry for Education are looking to ensure the best learning opportunities for students on Malta, and by working together we can make changes which will support that.
The project officially started on 1st September and already our baby steps have taken us quite far. The launch event was attended by all of our international partners, following which they took part in a three day workshop to define the challenges that we face when trying to implement learning through nature, including; lack of green space in school grounds, a need for nature resources suitable for early years and the packed timetable putting pressures on teachers to stay in the classroom. These and many other challenges were discussed and together we developed specific initiatives to address selected ones.
This doesn’t mean that BirdLife Malta will suddenly stop any of our already established education work, but it does mean that need additions and projects will gradually crop up alongside. The first new initiative which has already started is the expansion of our work to include secondary schools. This is a very exciting development for BirdLife and we will be working closely with the Education Division to deliver the programme as it works through Integrated Science and Core Curriculum Programme (CCP).
We are very much looking forward to seeing what the next three years will bring and hope that as a leading environmental education organisation on Malta we can have a positive impact.

Words and Photos by Hannah Chisholm, BirdLife Malta Education Manager


To find out more about our new education partners –
Ministry for Education and Employment
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Polish Society for the Protection of Birds
Dan il-proġett ġie finanzjat bl-għajnuna tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea. Din il-publikazzjoni tirrifletti (Dan il-komunikat jirrifletti) l-opinjonijiet ta’ l-awtur biss, u l-Kummissjoni ma tistax tinżamm responsabbli għal kull tip ta’ uzu li jista’ jsir mill-informazzjoni li tinsab fiha (fih)
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein