Competing in the name of environmental awareness
01 March 2013
Climate change and the role of mangroves in projecting fragile coast lines are two important issues facing the communities living on the coastal zone of Soc Trang Province, Vietnam. To raise awareness of these issues, the ‘Management of Natural Resources in the Coastal Zone of Soc Trang Province’ project, better known as the GIZ project, organised the High School Knowledge Competition between six high schools in the province.
Australian Volunteer Environmental Adviser, Paul Bourne, who is in Vietnam assigned to work with the GIZ project on an AusAID-funded Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) assignment, was asked to facilitate the implementation of the competition.
Raising community awareness is one of the aims of the GIZ project because local people living on the southern Mekong Delta coastal zone will be severely affected by the negative impacts of climate change. This is predicted to involve increased intensity and frequency of storms and rising sea levels. In preparation for the competition, the GIZ project trained all junior high school and high school teachers of Soc Trang Province on these issues.
Three televised qualifying rounds and the final of the competition were carried out in November and December 2012. In each round, two teams of five students competed in a contest consisting of a speech, a three-part quiz and a skit performance.
“For each event, the 200-strong supporters created a lively atmosphere, cheering on their teams at every opportunity. It was clear that the teams had worked hard to prepare for the competition,” Paul said.
“The speech presenters all displayed innovative styles and were delivered with such confidence. The quiz sections were impressive, with nail-biting tension in the one-on-one contests. The plays were exceptional – all teams displayed great talent and a unique way of getting their messages across.”
Afterwards all teams participated in a tour to Can Gio Biosphere Reserve – a mangrove forest near Ho Chi Minh City.
The High School Knowledge Competition was an effective vehicle for participants to learn more about the two themes of the competition. According to Paul, the teams played a vital role in raising awareness about local environmental issues to the audience, the broader community in the coastal zone of Soc Trang and other coastal areas via television broadcasts.
Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, together with the Department of Education and Training (DoET), the Forest Protection Sub-department (Kiểm Lâm) and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), the competition will no doubt stay in the minds of the students for a long time to come. ”The competition will also serve as a reminder about climate change, the important impact mangroves have on their environment and livelihoods and the role we can all play in raising community awareness around environmental issues,” Paul said.
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This is a position of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, an Australian Government, AusAID initiative. AVI is working in partnership with AusAID to deliver AVID.