Our curriculum currently runs for two whole school years. These are just some of the highlights we have during a normal Arribada Club programme, for both our Year One and Year Two students.
FEBRUARY | The IUCN Red List
In an island as rich in biodiversity as Príncipe, it is important for our young students to know the state of affairs of their natural realm. They have all heard about the problems surrounding certain species – ones who call this island their home –, but they still have a hard time grasping certain concepts and understanding some of the terms that get thrown about… ‘Threats’, ‘conservation’, ‘endangered’, ‘near-extinction’, and so on. These are all ideas that bear clarification in their minds, and that is why we set up this class.
We start by telling them that the IUCN is an organisation that sets about evaluating how all species around the globe are being taken care of, creating a long record called the IUCN Red List. Is the Lion’s savannah free of devious hunters? Is the Trout’s river nice and clean? The Monkey’s favourite forest still full of trees? This way, we start introducing them to the problems of illegal hunting, pollution and habitat loss.
The IUCN studies the conditions that different species find themselves in, and determines their ‘Conservation Status’. Does the species have a numerous and healthy population? Or are their numbers dwindling because their home is at risk?
As we explain to our students, it’s a spectrum… Animals and plants don’t just disappear overnight! They can be better or worse, and that is what is shown with the different Red List categories, which we painted on our Club’s wall.
And, so it goes: from the most desirable category, ‘Least Concerned’, and the second best, ‘Near threatened’, both bearing a reassuring green colour; then the ‘threatened’ categories of ‘Vulnerable’, ‘Endangered’ and ‘Critically Endangered’, with the mounting alert of yellow, orange and red; to the more pessimistic, ‘Extinct in Nature’; and, finally, the red on black ‘Extinct’ category.
Students then learn in which categories to place the different animals from São Tomé and Príncipe by solving a puzzle game. “The Green Sea Turtle is more endangered than the Sea Horse, but less so than the Thrush”, “The Sea Horse is less threatened than the Lobster”, and so on… By practicing their logic skills, they learn about the Red List and the conservation status of all these different animals, until the wall is full of images.
There’s still hope, that’s the lesson here. Hope that the species of this island won’t go the way of the Dodo – who, very à propos, is painted on our wall, along with the Tasmanian Tiger. There’s still a lot of work to do, but the sooner these students understand what that work actually is, the better!