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Taking a lead to safeguard their fragile ecosystem

Twelve-year-old Amjad Ismail sits under a coconut tree while watching a group of older children snorkeling in the sea. This is not just a regular swim though, as observed by Amjad. The older children enthusiastically search for and bring what they found to the shore. Quickly, Amjad begins to see items such as plastic bottles, rusted metals and other unnatural waste in all shapes and forms being piled up along the bank.

As an active member of the Science and Environment Club at his school - the Atoll Education Centre in Nilandhoo, capital of Faafu Atoll - Amjad knows very well what effects this garbage could have on the pristine beaches that provide Maldivians with their livelihood. As the older members of his club continue to search and send more unwanted stuff to the shore, Amjab couldn’t hold back his thoughts any longer.

“We Maldivians are destroying the beauty of our country by throwing garbage into the sea,” says the young boy. “Not only that, but we are also destroying the environment by polluting the air and cutting down trees.”

Highly vulnerable to global warming and rising sea levels, the Maldives have realized that guardianship of their fragile environment must be passed on to the younger generations. As a result, Environmental Studies are taught to all Maldivian children across the archipelago nation, but what Amjad and his classmates were learning had never before taken them beyond their classroom.

Now, the children are encouraged to go outside and be actively involved in learning about their land and sea. Soon, children from 105 islands will be given environment tool kits that will help them apply the knowledge learned in the classrooms into real life experiments. With tools such as the weather kit and coral watch kit, Amjad and his environment club will be able to monitor weather changes by observing wind and tide, and keep a close look at the healthiness of the corals and detect any early signs of pollution.

When asked about global warming, the sixth-grader has plenty to say. “Global warming is caused by people who are careless. It is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, congestion of traffic, and it is destroying our ecosystem,” says Amjad, while pointing at dead coral the older students have just collected from the sea.

“Our tourism is dependent on the environment,” adds Amjad about the Maldives’ lifeline. “Tourists come to our country because of the beautiful coral reefs, sandy beaches, and blue seas. If all the coral are dead, then we will lose the tourists and all the foreign currency they bring to our country.”



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