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Celebration at the Primary School Kawabata Yasunari in Hann, Senegal

Thanks to coaching by the indefatigable Bina Diop, 17 girls of the primary school Kawabata Yasunari in Hann Bel Air have rehearsed a sketch titled "Let's save the ocean" to help celebrate World Oceans Day 2018 at their school.

The rehearsals went on for three weeks and the girls aged 10 to 12 years of the CM1 and CM2 classes were very determined to contribute to creating greater awareness about the need for ocean protection. They are no strangers to the pollution on the beaches and the waters of Hann Bay lamented by inhabitants for years with little sign of improvements.

The Director of the School, Mr. Diallo, and several teachers of the school have facilitated and encouraged this activity as a good contribution to their pedagogical mission, in particular Mr. and Mrs. Deme, Ms. Mbaye, Mr. Diouf and Mr. Mamadou Diallo, who in addition to look after the IT room also documented progress photographically.

The teachers had already supported the participation of some pupils in the Mundus maris Awards youth contest 2018.

While the sketch was to be performed in the afternoon in front o all pupils, a preparatory meeting in the morning allowed Aliou Sall, Vice President of Mundus maris, to explain a bit more about the importance of healthy marine ecosystems, the major threats humans pose to their integrity.

He elaborated why counteraction is crucial and illustrated, what the organisation is doing about that.

Aliou used the development of the teachers' guide and workbook for pupils done with FAO a few years earlier as an example for supporting the learning about the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) in schools in Senegal and The Gambia.

The presentation made a big impact on the pupils, boys and girls, not only those acting in the sketch. They asked lots of questions.

During this exchange they wanted to learn more in detail about the ocean and what Mundus maris was able to do with them and their school, among others to restore its health.

After the presentation, Aliou asked the pupils, what had been the most significant part of the presentation and debate for them.

The two winners of Samba and Kumba Encouragement PrizesThe pupils mentioned two points that had made them think:

  • the degradation of the marine ecosystems was not something that just happened as a result of forces that had nothing to do with them and could not be influenced by them and their parents. On the contrary, it dawned on them that the poor health of the ocean was largely human-made.
  • there were things that everybody could do to stop the threats, e.g. arising from plastic and other pollution that in turn posed health risks not only to marine organisms, but to humans as well. There were things they could even do as pupils and also raise awareness around their school, in their family and community.

To round up the meeting and recognise the commitment shown for World Oceans Day 2018, Aliou Sall distributed Mundus maris cotton bags together with some of the teaching aids about the EAF. Special mugs were handed over to two girls, who had won Samba and Kumba Encouragement Prizes in the Mundus maris Awards contest, Samb Marianne and Wane Rokhaya Ndiaye, both 11 years old. Congratulations! A larger award ceremony will take place later.

Since then, the improvised theatre group did their sketch for their class mates and the entire school, enthusing all those present. The after-effects of the agitation surrounding World Oceans Day 2018 are still being worked on but the following events are already firmly planned - each with the performance of a sketch. Indeed, encouraged by their teachers, the girls want to remain together as a theatre group on a more regular basis. They want to call their group "School theatre group Mundus maris" («Groupe théâtral scolaire Mundus maris»). The girls are now rehearsing every work day afternoon under the supervision of Bina Diop for these special performances.

  • In a ceremony with the school community and the mayor of Hann, on 23 June, the prizes will be handed over publicly to all winners in Hann.
  • The current director will retire on 30 June and be saluted by the entire school community.
  • The baptism of the theatre group is scheduled for July, 1.

Mundus maris will provide T-shirts and school materials to the members of the theatre group to celebrate the baptism.

Text is by Aliou Sall, photos by Mamadou Diallo.

The indefatigable Bina Diop