Educating Future Guardians of the Galápagos

A mural painted on the side of the school encourages students to identify with their home's unique wildlife and ecosystems. © 2013 Jennifer Davidson Photography

The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund aims to protect the last wild places in the ocean while facilitating conservation, research, education, and community development programs in the places we explore. This blog entry spotlights some of the exciting work our grantees are doing with support from the LEX-NG Fund.

By Angela M. Thomas

What comes to mind when you think of the Galápagos? Giant tortoises. Lava fields. Charles Darwin. Finches. Tropical paradise. Now, what if I told you that in this land of natural wonders – and the birthplace of the theory of evolution – environmental themes have been routinely absent from school curriculums?

Not what you might imagine, right?

When the UNESCO World Heritage Committee recommended that the Galápagos be placed on the “World Heritage in Danger” list several years ago, education was cited as one of the 15 critical issues. The Committee found that schools, surprisingly, were failing to use the unique habitat of the Galápagos as a laboratory for students to learn environmental concepts. The World Heritage Committee also noted that the geographic isolation of the islands led educators to use outdated teaching practices, and certain skills vital to the local workforce, such as English, were not being taught.

How did one school respond? It set out to change all that.

Founded by the Scalesia Foundation in 1994, the Tomás de Berlanga School believes that the most effective path to an environmentally sustainable, secure Galápagos is through education. With support from the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund, the Tomás de Berlanga School is a model of educational advancements in the region.

A mural painted on the side of the school encourages students to identify with their home’s unique wildlife and ecosystems. © 2013 Jennifer Davidson Photography

Teacher training takes top priority at Tomás de Berlanga; the school provides ongoing mentoring and —> Read More

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