Begawan Foundation in Local Schools
Bali's community system is based on the local 'adat' law, with rulings and regulations set by the local ruling class, with leaders of local village and smaller units having more importance than any national Indonesian law. Thus, the importance of working with local leaders and the community cannot be overestimated.
The area of our work that has built the greatest momentum is with the local community – first in Sibang and now in Melinggih Kelod. We have the support from the office of the village chief, who will work with us to inform local smaller village units. We continue to work with the younger generation but need to ensure that the whole community is willing to take the responsibility of protection for not only the Bali Starling but also all birds found in the area, thus the inauguration of a policy to ban hunting and shooting of all birds.
In 2015, we trialled our first 10-week school program, meeting students for an hour a week in one class in one school in one village to give them the opportunity to learn more about conservation and the critically endangered Bali Starling. This program with the goal of 'Learning by Doing', gave students a greater knowledge of the reasons for extinction of the Bali Starling and encouraged compassion for birds. Education and the involvement of the local community, especially on an island where community relationships are of great importance, is a key that we believe other areas with similar problems can learn from. Learning by Doing is an important element in our 10-week program, encouraging students to be proactive and use analytical skills for problem solving. The lessons are constructed to stimulate and to build the students’ self-confidence, using the endangered Bali Starling as a starting point for discussion and projects.
In 2018, we moved the Bali Starlings and their enclosures to Melinggih Kelod village, back to Begawan, where our initial program commenced in 1999. The release of the Bali Starling in the area of our breeding site is our goal, with the involvement of the community in its protection. Equipping the students also with the knowledge of the Bali Starling helps us to ensure our community programs are in line with our mission.
In 2018 we partnered up with SMP N 1 Payangan, where we completed 2 separate 10-week programs, one on waste management and one on endangered wildlife. Students involved in the waste management course went to the Temesi Waste Management facility in Gianyar for an educational talk and tour of the facility. Wildlife students went to visit three local bird shops selling various birds and our newly opened Begawan Foundation Breeding and Release Centre. The students were asked to make observations on the number of birds per cage, the condition of the birds, the cleanliness of the cages and the diet provided to the birds. Field trips give students the opportunity to have new experiences, and show that learning is not just confined to the classroom.
2019 has seen us working together with SMK Payangan, the tourism vocational high school. Besides focusing on environmental protection, the program delves into the topics of eco-tourism and sustainability. We hope that with the addition of an eco-tourism module and sustainable tourism knowledge, the students will be ready to enter the industry workforce, and also be able to make a positive impact in Bali’s tourism sector. These students have also become our Learning Centre volunteers, working together with their younger counterparts. They have assisted with all the after-school lessons at the Learning Centre and also with our drama musical performance in December.
By the beginning of 2020, we have reached over 1,500 students, work closely with principals and teachers, have a regular troupe of loyal Eco-Warriors, and ensure that our programs are considered a vital part of education.