Sixteen participants from Egypt attended this training activity in Torres Vedras, Portugal. The workshop was organized by CEIFA ambiente, Lda with the essential support by Prof. Dr. Boshra Salem, from the University of Alexandria, who has been the main developer of the EduCamp activities on biodiversity and therefore also assumed the main trainer role.
From 27 to 31 May the group worked intensively on the understanding of Biodiversity from a holistic perspective, discussed its importance for Sustainable Development, addressed the threats against ecosystems and species, analysed the negative (footprint-) and positive (handprint-) impacts of human interventions, and recognized the urgent need of deep transformations of today’s consumption patterns in order to prevent the destruction of life on Earth.
In this framework, the role of Education became so evident that group smoothly glided from the theoretical framework into the more practical part of the workshop, in which the trainees became familiar with the EduCamp school kits that will be used in the training of school teachers in Egypt; they had the opportunity to analyse in several working groups the ESD-activities for grades 5-9 focussing on biodiversity and provide their comments and suggestions.
Besides the intensive activities at the training room, two field activities completed the program: a guided visit to the palaeontology museum in Lorinhã (a small town near Torres Vedras) and a visit to a Portuguese secondary school in Torres Vedras.
The visit to the museum was enriching in two aspects: first, the history of the museum itself showed that this – meanwhile internationally recognized science museum – has been the result of an independent community project. It can therefore be seen as a successful story of community based research that also shows that local cooperation can make wonderful things happen even when the available financial resources are modest. A further interesting aspect was the discussion about evolution, its importance for the understanding of changes in human societies, and the lessons we can learn from the fossils - the only remaining witnesses of species that have disappeared for a long.
During the visit to the secondary school the Egyptian guests could get interesting information about the Portuguese public school system from the school director; they were then invited to visit the school building and to have a meeting with a school class (grade 11). Spontaneously a few trainees implemented with the students two of the ESD-activities on biodiversity.