Case study: Environmental education in Barbados

Winnie and Oscar Merritt

e-learning centre on sustainable development


Environmental Education

Environmental education in Barbados

from Winnie and Oscar Merritt

Barbados in the eastern Caribbean is a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), only 14 miles by 21 miles with a population of around 265,000. The loss of land to housing and industrial development and to erosion is increasing daily. Dependence on petroleum is ever increasing in order to bring in tourists, import food, run the power plants, pump water and much more. With this in mind, food security, water conservation and preservation and conservation of green space are vital interests. Treading Lightly - an environmental education and conservation project - is developing a puppet show for the Barbados Green Expo in March. It seeks, through scripts that highlight the teachings of various Faith communities, to educate the public as to why it has a spiritual responsibility for the environment. Treading Lightly hopes to inspire Barbadians to take responsibility for their environment - appealing to their minds through science and their emotions through texts of their religions.

The plan is to create an interactive, dramatic and artistic time line that gives the scientific creation story of the universe. The science of the creation story is inspired by "A Walk Through Time" which can be viewed at We will interlace the visuals with texts of the creation story from various religions - primarily Christian because that is the majority Barbadian religion. An emphasis on the five previous extinctions on the planet will lead to a supposition that we may be involved in a sixth unless we drastically change human behavior. The puppet plays which accompany the exhibit will illuminate the issues in a humorous way.

Participants will be asked to make a commitment to address at least one environmental issue in their own lives - for example, to take the bus and leave the car at home when practical. This is no easy sell. Barbadians have recently become more affluent. For instance, there are 125,000 cars on this small island. The polluted air hangs in the school classrooms near the highways to the extent that one school was recently shut down for a few days by a teacher protest. Traffic jams are frazzling the public nerve which nevertheless does not want to give up the car for the bus. The number of asthma cases is soaring, especially among children. We hope to find statistics which will tie the health issues to the transportation issues.

If this exhibit is successful, it will be enlarged into a "roadshow" which will travel to schools, festivals and such. It is already successful in unifying the diversity of religious opinions toward a common goal.

Additionally, the All-Terrain Gardens program will be holding workshops on growing food organically in stacks of tires. This project aims toward several outcomes: a recognition of Baha'u'llah's teaching that the world must have a "special regard" for agriculture; a recognition of the interactions of the life of the soil and the life of plants; the creation of gardens for special needs - even on concrete: production of a safe source of food; wise water use; utilization of problem waste products; raising questions about land-loss; providing outlets for youth and those with disabilities.

From 9th IEF Electronic Conference 2005

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Last updated 12 April 2006