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TOP brings Captain Fanplastic initiative to primary schools |05 September 2023

TOP brings Captain Fanplastic initiative to primary schools

The Ocean Project Seychelles, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, aims to ignite transformation and enhance environmental awareness among young learners, through the Captain Fanplastic environmental education programme.

The educational initiative was developed by South African company Soapbox in 2018, and has since been expanded to the Africa and Indian Ocean developing island states (AIODIS), with the support of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and the World Bank.

Since the launch of the initiative earlier this year, the Ocean Project (TOP) has successfully implemented the programme in 13 out of the 15 primary schools it had initially targeted. These schools include Anse Boileau, Persévérance, Au Cap, Baie St Anne Praslin, and the Independent School, among others.

The programme is designed for students aged 8 to 10 years, encompassing both public and private schools.

Through experiential learning methods, the programme combines theoretical knowledge, creativity, and gamification to enlighten young learners about the urgent necessity of addressing and combating plastic pollution, while instilling a sense of environmental stewardship.

General manager of TOP, Alice Mascarenhas noted that the different components, namely, storytelling and interactive clean-ups, allow the young learners to actively take part in hands-on experiences and self-reflection, enabling them to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and real-life environmental challenges.

The TOP team received online training to implement the programme, and has adapted it to the Seychelles environment.

With the support of the ministry of education, they venture into schools for a whole day of activities, including a pre-activity evaluation to test their knowledge, a learning session about plastic litter and the impacts on marine life and the environment, as well as other hands-on experiences.

Asides from the story about Captain Fanplastic’s adventures and the dilemma he faces resulting from plastic pollution, the children thoroughly enjoy the plastic treasure hunt around the school, or nearby beach. The trash that is collected is weighed and examined.

With the aim of teaching them to reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose and to refuse, items recovered during the treasure hunt are then used in a creative session to make fun items, such as eye-patches and marine animals.

“We are hoping that we can use the Captain Fanplastic platform to develop our own educational materials, and we can expand it to suit different age groups,” Ms Mascarenhas added.

TOP was recently awarded R289,470 through the National Grants for the project. The funds will finance a workshop with educators later on during the year, as well as the expansion of the programme to other schools.

Educator Frances Benstrong said the children really enjoy the story and different components of the programme.

“The children really appreciate it, and so do the teachers. They have a lot of questions and especially enjoy going out to the beach for the clean-ups.

“Seychelles is surrounded by a vast ocean territory and it is difficult to connect with our marine resources, unless through education. It make a difference when people know and understand the importance of our marine resources to us,” Ms Benstrong noted.

Soapbox was founded by Ruben Hazelnet as a solution to the waste conundrum and lack of environmental awareness issue in South Africa.

He developed the Legend of Captain Fanplastic story after conducting several focus groups with primary school kids, to test their knowledge about plastic pollution.

Educator at Beau Vallon primary school, Elsie Souris expressed satisfaction at the activity.

“As a teacher, I firmly believe that providing children with opportunities to engage in activities centred around the protection of the environment holds immense significance,” said Ms Souris.

“These experiences serve as seeds that will grow into a deeper understanding and appreciation for our natural world. Being part of the Captain Fanplastic initiative was an absolute privilege, allowing both the children’s learning and the environment’s protection,” Ms Souris said.

The accompanying photos show the children taking part in the many activities.


Laura Pillay

Photos: Contributed

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