The B.E.A.C.H. (Building Enviromental Awareness and Appreciation of Coastal Habitats) Programme

B.E.A.C.H. is the programme under which all educational and awareness projects of the Buccoo Reef Trust take place. The Trust believes that a positive attitude towards our environment is fundamental to achieving sustainable development. Education is the most effective means by which to bring about changes in attitudes. As such, under the B.E.A.C.H. Programme, primary and secondary school students are exposed to the marine environment in a hands-on manner, and the community continues to be made more aware of the importance of the coastal resources around Tobago.

The primary school component of the B.E.A.C.H. Programme was launched on May 1st 2003. This programme, which is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation USA, the J.B Fernandes Memorial Trust-I, and C.L. Financial, aimed to establish a marine education component within the primary school curricula that would promote overall environmental awareness and protection in the youth population.

Fifteen (15) schools participated in the pilot phase of the education programme which ran from May 1st – July 4th 2003. Students at the standard 3 level (ages 8-9 years) were exposed to the coral reef environment in an engaging, interactive manner. The lessons that were developed related primarily to the science and social studies syllabi but also had relevance in the mathematics, language arts, and art and craft subjects. Multimedia technology such as PowerPoint presentations and video footage, along with posters, specimens, models and interactive handouts were used to deliver the material to the students.

The programme culminated with a field day where all the participating students went to the Buccoo Reef, visited the Buccoo Wetlands and participated in coral reef games. The field day was an adventure for the students because it was the first time many of them had ever been on a glass bottom boat.

Many of the teachers involved in the programme commended the initiative behind the programme and stressed the need for such an educational programme within all the schools in Tobago. The programme continues into the 2003-2004 academic year.