Due to Corona virus pandemic, movements have been restricted. Unemployment of day laborers is also a problem. During the time when the restrictions were severe and schools were closed, we distributed vegetable seeds to families of children to help improve nutrition and income, and also carried out training on a small scale.
Currently, face-to-face classes are gradually resumed. We are planning to restart tree planting and to teach soap making in the future.
School closure has been continuing since March 2020. and rural children without online learning environment are losing education opportunities. In order to not stop being aware of environment, we got the permission of the government, visited each village and fortunately could conduct tree planting as planned. We are also promoting to support the installation of hand-washing facilities at school and will spread hygiene education as well as environmental conservation.
Van Lian Ceu
From December 26 to 29, 2019, the 9th “Love FURUSATO Work Camp” of the Children’s Forest Program (CFP) was held at DOA-OISCA Agriculture and Rural Development Training Center in Myanmar with the participation of 40 school children and students from CFP participating school. Also, from schools near DOA-OISCA Agriculture and Leadership Training Center located in Mandalay Region which started CFP activities this year, school children and teachers took part for the first time. This region is suffering from severe weather conditions because it is located in the dry land and is confronted with the problem of water conservation and the wind is strong due to the presence of many flat areas.
The children introduced their respective forest development and environmental conservation activities and participated in forest observation divided into groups and workshops with the themes of garbage separation. Even if the problems they have are all different, it was a good opportunity for them to deepen bonds beyond regions meeting fellows who work for FURUSATO in the same way.
A teacher who took part in the forest observation session in Sinma Mountain, said: “there is no forest in our community, and it is very difficult to create an opportunity for children to feel the blessings and richness of the forest. I would like to tell other children what I have learnt here and intend to develop an observable rich forest.” It seemed that the teachers, too, learnt a lot.
Distributing text book encouraging independent studies
In the past, schools in Myanmar have been oriented toward memory-type education. But in 2017, the textbook of the first graders was revised for the first time in 20 years and started to put an emphasis on the education which promotes independent learning.
In the Children’s Forest Program, we compiled a new textbook on environmental education summarizing the roles and features of the community animals and plants so that children would be able to learn about the nature of FURUSATO. In the textbook, we listed the names in the English and local languages of the animals and plants living in the community and set up pages in which children freely write what was discovered in the forests and play just like bingo. It is designed to promote for children to think and act on their own. It became the tool by which the children will be able to deepen their understanding on the ecosystem of the familiar community through recording animals and plants discovered on nature observation. We are activating environmental education in providing school teachers with advices on how to utilize the textbooks.
Working hard despite the harsh environment!
GweGon Middle School is located in the extreme north of Yezagyo.
It takes about 30 minutes from the main road by motor cycle.
The barren land is not easy for growing plants due to lots of rocks.
The school teachers consulted with OISCA for improving environment around the school .OISCA staff advised the teachers to take part in CFP. Then they started CFP activities in 2017.
The first activity was planting teaks. Despite the severe environment, they have taken care of seedlings hard so as not to wither.
Mr. Chieh, a teacher said:” Before starting of the CFP activities, no one could teach the importance of environment. But now, we can learn about environment from OISCA staff with students. It is a wonderful thing.”
4 representatives of students took part in the LOVE FURUSATO work camp in Dec 2017. They introduced to other students what they learnt and are now trying hard as environmental leaders of the school.
From now on, they will plant many more trees and make an opportunity for studying environment.
School forest passed down from seniors to junior
Khan Sart Post Middle School is located in the western part of Yezagyo.
Due to be barren land, they cultivate only Tanaka trees used as sunscreen instead of crops. They used to cultivate rice 20years ago, but in recent year, can’t cultivate any crops due to water shortage and unstable climate.
That’s why they started CFP in 2008 to bring back be dry land to be moist again.
The long-term activities are beginning to bear fruit. The trees have grown up bigger and have made the shade. The children are now able to study and play in the shade of trees in the schoolyard and a pleasant wind has begun to blow.
Thanks to the water tank, they can water trees even in the dry season. Consequently, the seedlings are growing steadily without withering. As for other activities, they focus on the separation of garbage. Some students practice it at home with their parents.
The principal U Han Swe said:”Before I didn’t know how to teach students about environment and the separation of garbage. Not only children but also the community people have changed their environmental awareness. I appreciate your support. ” They will have to continue to plant trees for increasing green.
Children’s Forest Program (CFP) in Myanmar
Teaching materials on environmental education compiled, expected to contribute to further reinvigoration of activities at participating schools
Yesagyo Township, Magway Region where DOA-OISCA Agroforestry Training Center is located, is in the harsh climatic conditions with the annual average rainfall of 500mm. Moreover, deforestation is progressing due to over-felling of forests for firewood. Against this background, OISCA, considering that teaching materials and opportunities for raising awareness of the youth on environmental conservation are lacking, has carried out for two years since January 2017 environmental education including tree planting activities in getting the support of the “Toyota Grant Program for Environmental Activities of Toyota Motor Corporation.
In 39 schools and nearby areas targeted for forestation, they planted a total of 7,748 dry-resistant tree species and native species toward the conservation of biodiversity. They have attained the survival rate of 80% by getting the support from the local residents for installing fences against domestic animals. Moreover, they compiled a text on environmental education featuring the role and characteristics of local animals and plants for the purpose of promoting voluntary activities at respective schools. The text incorporates a scheme to bring out the power of the children to think and act on their own. It was handed over to the children in the eco-camp held near the Training Center in December 2018.
Based on these experiences in Yesagyo, new activities will be started in FY 2019 also in Chaungmagyi Village, Mandalay Region where the DOA-OISCA Agriculture and Leadership Training Center is located. OISCA intends to support the ring of activities which have been slowly but steadily expanding so that green grows on the dry land.
Just joined CFP !
This school is small with only 36 pupils. Previously it was located in a village close to the major river. But due to floods and landslides, the villagers had to evacuate from their former residences and moved to the present location. The school also moved from the river side, and was rebuilt in 2016 with the help of OISCA members and other Japanese donors.
Initially, the villagers did not realize the significance of CFP, but through tree planting activities carried out together with Japanese people and environmental seminars, their interest in trees and nature has been promoted a little by little. Village Leader Daw Nu Yi expressed her earnest desire: “Through CFP, not only children but also adults can learn many things. Earlier, Za Ya Ma was a community located on the river coast. Because of landslides, we moved to the present place. But it is an arid area, and we don’t have good soil. I hope that CFP will properly educate the children, and they will make a difference in their home community in the future.” Although there are problems of arid climate and poor soil quality, they intend to maintain the planted seedlings with care and continue planting trees aiming for green environment.
When awareness changes, behavior also changes !
This school is located in Yezagyo Township of the central arid region. As the area is close to the Chindwin River, plants can grow easily compared to other areas. The villagers are engaged in farming and are growing mostly beans. They started CFP activities in 2007. In 2016, they planted Neem which can also serves as medicine, Siris which grows fast and Gold Mohur which provides good shades with widely spreading branches.
Before the start of the CFP activities, environmental awareness of the students and teachers were very low. As a result of the school principal communicating about the significance of tree planting and the importance of protecting environment, the children have become very active in carrying out tree planting and environmental protection activities. Daw Khin Myin, School Principal, commented: “Before CFP was started, nothing was in place in the school – no fences, no trees, no walls, but now we have big trees and children enjoy playing and studying under the shades of trees. Children give water to their small trees without specifically instructed by teachers.”
Visit to Japan by Myanmar and Mongolian children as “Children’s Goodwill Ambassadors” under the Children’s Forest Program
From September 14 to 24, OISCA invited to Japan a total of 7 school children and coordinators from Myanmar and Mongolia under the Children’s Forest Program (CFP) and carried out various exchange activities in Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka and Nara.
On September 20, they visited Okazaki Plant of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in Aichi Prefecture, and in front of the company officials and workers, delivered presentations on the respective forestation activities carried out while facing the serious water shortage in Myanmar and the severe natural disasters and climate change in Myanmar.
In Tokyo, the group participated in a work shop at Nerima Art Museum and underwent studies at NPO Medakanogakkou. While in the Kansai Region, they observed the Kasugayama Virgin Forest located in Nara Prefecture and had an exchange session at Yoshikawa Elementary School in Toyono, Osaka Prefecture.
OISCA intends to promote infrastructural development so that children would be able to think and act together across national borders toward solving global issues in the future.
KYAWE MONE (The Mirror), a national paper in Myanmar carried the following article on 9 March
The following is a translation from Myanmar language (abridged).
Today we are faced with many environmental problems including climate change, extinction of species etc. Biological diversity is being lost, and eco-systems are being destroyed. The world community needs to tackle the crisis. Otherwise, it would worsen day by day.
Tree planting is the most urgently needed task for human beings. The world is losing forests at an alarming speed. So, the Children’s Forest Program (CFP) is now being introduced.
CFP was started in 1991. OISCA, an NGO established in Japan in 1961, initiated this effective environmental education program. CFP is now spreading to 32 countries (*the article was written on the data collected in 2013). Myanmar is one of the countries, and CFP was introduced in Yesagyo Township, Magway in 2001. At present 60 schools in Yesagyo are taking part in this Program.
DOA OISCA Agricultural Training Center was set up in Yesagyo in 1997 and it is a base to promote the OISCA activities including CFP. In CFP children are the main actors. It is an educational program to foster their attitude and awareness. They should concern about Furusato (a Japanese word
meaning “home”) – their own hometowns or home villages where they were born and brought up. They need to protect and rehabilitate their forests and all living beings in their homes. Through CFP children learn about the environment, and the significance of forestation. All village people – teachers, parents and leaders of communities – come together and join in the CFP in their villages, teaching the children with a hope that when their children grow up they will have a natural desire to protect the environment and enrich nature.
DOA OISCA Training Center organized a “Love Furusato Work Camp” in the end of December 2015. Actually this Work Camp is organized every year each time with the participation of 40 schoolchildren from 20 schools from all parts of Yesagyo Township. While playing and having fun, children learn about the environment and the concept of Furusato. They also experience taking care of piglets, quails and chicks.
Furusato is a Japanese word meaning “home.” It, however, connotes broader meanings. It may be equivalent to Myanmar word “Mweyatmyae”. “My Furusato is Pakhangyi, and Pakhangyi belongs to Yesagyo, so Yesagyo is my Furusato. Yesagyo is in Magway, so Magway is also my Furusato. Magway is in Myanmar, so Myanmar is my Furusato. Myanmar is in Asia, so Asia is also my Furusato. Asia is on Mother Earth, so Mother Earth is also my Mweyatmyae.”
Countries such as Japan, Myanmar and China were created by human beings. National boundaries were made by humans. Water, air, soil – all belongs to Furusato. Sakura – cherry blossoms are beautiful in Japan, and it is making Mother Earth beautiful. Himalaya and its clean water is a treasure given by Mother Nature. Panda in China and all living beings on Earth are treasures of Furusato. The great tropical rain forests in Amazon emit oxygen that reaches all human beings, and Amazon is a treasure of Furusato.
Today, the environment of Furusato is being destroyed. We are losing forests, and in the same way numerous life forms. The climate change causes the ice around the North Pole to melt. Human beings are responsible for all these problems. CFP is thus trying to teach children, who should shoulder the future of human society, the importance of protecting Furusato and restoring nature in Furusato. CFP is a useful program. So, we hope that all the teachers in Myanmar will adopt CFP as environmental education program at their schools.
With the financial support from the Global Industrial & Social Progress Research Institute (GISPRI), OISCA carried out the CFP Children’s Goodwill Ambassadors program two times in September and October 2014. From October 1 to 10, Indonesian and Myanmar children came over to Japan for presentation meetings and exchange programs in Tokyo, Kagawa and Ehime. On October 4, they participated in the “Global Festa 2014” held at Hibiya Park in Tokyo, and socializing with Japanese children coming from different parts of the country, taught each other cultures of their respective countries and communities, and together made a “Promise for the Earth 10 years later”
Mr. Htet Phyo Lwin from Myanmar told that in his village, it rains in only about 40 days a year and so, only those crops such as peas resistant to dry can grow; in the dry season, there is no water even in rivers, and they get a small amount of water digging the sand, but it is very hard to carry water. He added that although it is tough to raise trees under this environment, the shade provided by the grown forest is cool and pleasant.
At an event commemorating Japan’s International Cooperation Day held on October 6, 2014, Indonesian and Myanmar children who were visiting Japan as Children’s Forest Program (CFP) Goodwill Ambassadors presented a theme song for CFP entitled “Mori no Ibuki” together with Ms. Kazuyo Kuriya, a flutist and the theme song lyric writer and composer.
Ms. Putri Oktaviani Rachman and Ms. Maharani Dean Pramudita from Indonesia received intensive Japanese language lessons before coming over to Japan. They made all presentations in Japanese and surprised the Japanese participants. The Japanese supporters who participated in the presentation meeting in Tokyo commented: “looking at the children speaking with lively facial expressions, we could feel that the CFP activities are really enjoyable and that forests are developed with the hands of these children”.
On the other hand, children from Sri Lanka and Thailand visited Japan from September 4 to 15 and conducted programs in Aichi, Gifu, Chiba and Tokyo. In the exchange meeting held at Aichi Prefectural Toyota Higashi Senior High School which is expected to take part as the representative of the Chubu region in the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development being held in Japan this November, the Sri Lankan and Thai children reported that the forests in their communities have been lost due to the rapid developments and wildfire causing serious problems such as landslides and water shortage and that they are carrying out tree-planting activities so as to lessen these problems. The students of Toyota Higashi Senior High School made a presentation about their studies and research on living creatures in Yahagi River and forests and also activities to protect the environment.
This year falls on the 60th anniversary of Japan’s international cooperation and also the last year of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) which was proposed by Japan and has been promoted by the international community.
In the future, we intend to improve through this sort of projects mutual understanding of respective environments and cultures beyond the country and also foster children who can act together.
On September 17, CFP activities were conducted at Kan Thit Elementary School which is located about 15 minutes by car along the main road running from north to south in front of the OISCA Training Center.
This school has 300 pupils who seem to be very active and have strong competitive consciousness.
When the OISCA Training Center’s truck which carrying seedlings arrived at the school, pupils rushed to the truck and struggled to get seedlings. Once they got the seedlings, immediately started
to plant. So, the Center staff had to hastily stop it. The reason why the pupils strongly competed to receive the seedlings was that they wanted get as large sized-ones as possible.
The pupils planted at a vacant lot of the school ground 60 seedlings of such species as Neem, Tamarind and Siris. Each one of the pupils is supposed to take care and raise the seedlings.
On September 18, CFP activities were carried out at Taung U Elementary School, located at the western edge of the Yesagyo where the OISCA Training Center is situated. The pupils cheerfully planted 50 seedlings.
Rediscovery of the Rich Nature of FURUSATO in Workshop
The first workshop was conducted in Myanmar in 2012, and in response to its popularity, the second one was carried out in December 2013. The 5-days and 4-nights workshop was held at Myanmar Agriculture Service(MAS) OISCA Agro-Forestry Training Center. A total of 42 school children from 17 schools in Pakkoku District taking part in the Children’s Forest Program (CFP), gathered and learnt the nature of the community through agricultural experience and playing games in the forest located in the premises of the Center.
Also, all the participants climbed Mt.Sinma which is situated near the Training Center and conserves the rich nature. The staff divided the children into 6 different groups, thoroughly observed
the species of trees and plants in the forest. Through the activity in which the participants looked for the same kind of leaves as the ones handed over by the staff, the children fully utilized
their body and feelings and felt closer to the Nature than usual. More than anything, they were very stimulated in spending time together with children from other schools with whom they usually
don’t have an opportunity to meet and talk each other on their respective activities and daily lives. We intend to continue to organize this sort of eco camps as an initiative to generate a new
willingness for inter-school communications and CFP activities in the future.
We held the second work camp in Pakokku, Myanmar in December 2013.
We invited 17schools which have joined in CFP and on behalf of the each school 2~3 children participated in the work camp.
At Oisca agriculture training center, 42children had enjoyed the camp for 5days.
They had an agricultural experience and nature games in the forest.
We all went to Mt. Sinma which located at near the training center and has plenty of nature. As it was cold on December we had a warm up before we started.
We divided the children into 6 groups that differs school and age of the children, then we watched and felt the forest.
We did the activity of finding the same kind of the leaves as the staff gave to the children.
They were excited of the nature by using their body and senses and having good time with the other school students by talking about their activity and living.
We try to continue these activities for making good communication with school to school through the activities such as Eco Camp.
Myae Phyu Primary School joined CFP in 2009 and planted a total of 320 trees on the school grounds and the entrance of the village. Most of the trees planted in the first year at the school grounds survived and matured because of the children’s good nurturing.
They were looking forward to seeing 5 papaya trees bearing fruits. But in 2012, a very sad incident happened. All the papaya trees were mischievously cut down! Despite this incident, the children resiliently planted 4 Dragon Fruit trees. Now they are carefully watching the trees. Before there were no Dragon Fruit trees in the village so these trees became so popular that many adults come to see them. The children are making preparations for a vegetable garden in hopes to grow vegetables in the future. The villagers became interested in trees and the natural environment ever since they participated in the CFP activities together with the children.
Myae Phyu Primary School
CFP school since 2009
Located in Myae Phyu Village, Yesagyo Township, Pakokku District, Magway Region
The Htan Pin Chaung Post Primary School became a new participant of CFP in 2012 because simply one of the teachers was interested in CFP. At first there were only a dozen of trees on the school grounds covering about 2 hectares. So the students and teachers were able to plant 205 trees, including Azadirachta Indica and Albizia Julibrissin! Also, they picked up plastic garbage, which was casually thrown away at the back of the school, and then created a garbage dumpsite. From them on, everyone regularly used the designated garbage site and, for the first time, the school grounds continued to keep its cleanliness.
In addition to planting trees and organizing waste, children began growing vegetables! In the village, vegetables were not grown before so the children did not know how to grow them. Every day, they went to fetched water from a pond, located about 15 minutes on foot, to water their vegetables. When they could harvest, they were all very excited and proud. They brought the harvests to their home and shared it with their family. The teachers are very delighted to see the children enjoy the activities and education of CFP.
Htan Pin Chaung Post Primary School
CFP school since 2012
Located in Htan Pin Chaung Village, Yesagyo Township, Pakokku District, Magway Region
Myanmar’s central arid region where the OISCA Training Center is located, is an area with very harsh environment where the annual rainfall is on average 400 millimeters and in the summer season (March-May), the temperature goes up to 45℃.
There are only few tree species that can grow under these severe conditions, and there is no forest and the area is surrounded by sparse shrubs. But the local residents cut down these sparse shrubs to use as firewood for daily cooking and making bricks, and so the trees have been getting decreasing.
With a sense of crisis that the environment would further deteriorate if no action were taken, OISCA started out in 2001 the Children’s Forest Program at two primary schools located in the villages adjacent to the Training Center.
The first of these schools was Thet Ywar Primary School. In the first year, the program was faced with many difficulties such as domestic animals eating up young trees, poor soil conditions and the problem of well water unsuitable for irrigation.
The experience at that time has been fully utilized in the subsequent activities in other schools. The year 2011 falls on the 10th anniversary of the Children’s Forest Program in Myanmar.
(Thet Ywar Primary School)
Program starting year: 2001 Number of students: 75