KBFSC hopes to expand environmental education programme outside Temburong

National 2 minutes, 42 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre (KBFSC) is looking into expanding its environmental educational programme for schools outside of Temburong.

“As you know, not everyone is allowed to visit Belalong, and we also realise that our environmental education programme doesn’t have to be specifically in Belalong,” the centre’s education coordinator, Siti Rafhiah Hj Abd Kahar, said yesterday.

Siti Rafhiah said they have several environmental educational programmes that they hope to start this year outside the Kuala Belalong area.

One of the programmes involves the herbal garden located near the KBFSC building at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

KBFSC, a hub for knowledge and research in biodiversity, is currently only accessible to researchers and not tourists. It was opened in May 1992 for use by visiting school groups and university students participating in various educational programmes.

KBFSC’s School Education Programme draws students from the country’s secondary schools for four days and three nights of theory and practical sessions aimed at nurturing environmental conservation values.

“We want to design an educational programme that would only take about two hours to half a day. The programme will touch on a lot of things. But at the moment, we want to start small. We want to concentrate on the herbal garden. The herbal garden has many local plants, non-invasive species and medicinal plants, and the programme will introduce students to the diversity of local plants.”

Siti Rafhiah emphasised that the content of the programmes needs to be carefully planned.

“This is because apart from KBFSC, which is under the Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER), there are also non-governmental organisations that are also doing environmental awareness programmes. We don’t want to have an overlap. We want every organisation, if possible, to have their own niche.

“The strength for IBER and Universiti Brunei Darussalam is that our programme in Belalong gives opportunities for our young generation to experience a natural environment. Youths will also be more aware of the need for conservation,” she said.

According to Siti Rafhiah, the centre wants to inspire more youths to consider careers in the biodiversity discipline.

“We want to introduce them to scientific methods and research because that is the main point for the establishment of KBFSC.

“Our (environmental education) programme is designed not just to tell the students about the different types of biodiversity (flora and fauna) but also its ecological importance as well as why we do research,” she said.

Students who undergo the centre’s programme will be asked to take on “simple research projects”, Siti Rafhiah said.

“This is so they can experience what it’s like to do research and how to look at the data and make sense of it. This is the strength of IBER. We don’t just do environmental education but also try to inspire students to take a career in sciences and not necessarily in biodiversity,” she said

Siti Rafhiah said KBFSC receives 15 to 20 groups of students annually.

“The number varies annually. We will take a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 22 students in a group. In a year, we usually schedule around two groups in a month, but of course that doesn’t include the fasting month and school holidays.”

The Brunei Times