ProCEEd Conducts Creative Workshop on Non-Formal Education

From 8 to 10 August 2017, ProCEEd held on non-formal education at Thakhek’s Lao Women’s Union in Khammouane Province. ProCEEd’s partner organizations and other programs and projects active in

the environment sector in Khammouane were invited to attend. The objective of this three-day event was to give an overview of various non-formal education methods and to train participants to develop their own activities step by step, including planning, organizing and implementing their awareness projects. a workshop .The twenty-five attendees came from different institutes and organisations, such as the Provincial and District Offices for Natural Resources and Environment (PONRE, DONRE), the Community Outreach and Communication Association (COCA), the District Co-Management Committee (DCMC), and the Integrated Conservation of Biodiversity and Forests Project (ICBF) of kfw.


The meeting room at the Lao Women’s Union was well prepared with traditional decorations, moderation materials and posters, and there was, as usual, a joint lunch waiting for the participants as well as coffee, tea and Lao snacks. But one thing surprised participants: Why were there water jarsand glasses instead of the familiar little plastic bottles usually provided at these sorts of meetings?


“This workshop will be about developing activities to raise awareness for environmental issues,” opened ProCEEd’s new Development Advisor (DA) for the Province, Phillip Bengel. “So we decided to make a first step ourselves to save the waste of about 150 little plastic bottles by using jars and glasses for the next three days. It is important to act authentic if we want to communicate ecological values in effective ways to the people.”


The audience agreed with Phillip’s explanation, and thus before the workshop had even started they learned their first lesson.


Jonas Ewert, Development Advisor preceding Phillip, co-moderated the training and provided basic information about what environmental education, awareness raising and outreach are. He explained that the main objectives of the three days were to learn new skills, try out some practical environmental education methods and develop a small awareness program that could be implemented with the organisations’ respective target groups.


The activities started with interactive group work to determine what the different organisations wanted to raise awareness about, and whose awareness should be raised at all. To develop their projects, the participants defined their messages and brainstormed methods to distribute them. Group work was only interrupted by small presentations of helpful skills and non-formal education methods by the moderators, coffee and tea breaks and mutual presentations of the groups, to update the others about their current status. The moderators, supported by their Lao national colleagues Xengxiong and Yerlor, also conducted some environment-related games and energizers, which both fostered a more relaxed working atmosphere and gave a few more examples of non-formal education approaches.


After two days of hard work, final presentations were held the last day of the workshop, with some project heads and supervisors joining to see the results of their colleagues’ work.


PONRE and DONRE both chose to raise young people’s awareness about forest protection, but took totally different approaches. DONRE decided to use an illustrated poster to explain the forest ecosystem, with all its inhabitants and their mutual dependencies. PONRE developed the idea of doing a transect walk with school classes to help them understand the differences between a healthy natural forest and a forest which has been degraded by human exploitation.


The ICBF group chose to raise awareness about slash and burn methodologies through a short theater play. COCA and DCMC invented a picture game to educate about Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs), where the players learn about different plants, mushrooms and other products, where to find them, and how to use them in the kitchen or as medicine.


The presentations were followed by a round of feedback and final group work, after which the teams determined the “next steps” to implement the developed programs and methods. The participants listed materials to organise, people to contact, permission to seek and other steps that had to be taken care of to realise their activities as soon as possible. The workshop provided a fruitful co-working atmosphere to develop new skills and create tailor-made environmental education methods, but it also was chance for different institutions that work in similar contexts to have a technical exchange and collaborate with each other, something that doesn’t always happen. The workshop was the result of a unique co-working session between the long-established DA, Jonas Ewert, and his recently arrived successor, Phillip Bengel, who took over the DA position in Khammouane only a short time after this workshop. The successful set up and implementation of this workshop was a positive indicator for a prosperous collaboration and smoothly transition between the two DAs.