Crucial to Educate Children on 'Fight' against Plastic Pollution

Crucial to Educate Children on 'Fight' against Plastic Pollution

Crucial to educate children on ‘fight’ against plastic pollution

By Neil Brian Josephon August 28, 2019, Wednesday at 9:11 AM Sabah

The Race For Water team with the other representatives from local NGOs.

KOTA KINABALU: The children of Gaya Island may very well hold the key to solving the island’s long-standing plastic pollution dilemma.

The Race For Water Foundation, an international organisation that is dedicated to preserve the water and oceans, had recently paid a visit to Gaya Island – an island that is infamous for its enormous amount of rubbish.

Race For Water is currently in Sabah for a 20-day stopover as part of its five-year voyage around the world – and it did not plan on leaving out Gaya Island from its itinerary.

“One of the main objectives of the Race For Water Foundation is to raise awareness on the preservation of the ocean and the plastic issue. Today, we had the chance to meet the kids from this fishermen’s village that is Gaya Island,” said Camille Rollin, who is the foundation’s project manager.

She found that the people of Gaya Island were still generally unaware of the actual threat of plastic pollution to their health and environment.

“What always makes me sad is to know that these kids are born here with plastic all over the place. They need to know that this is not normal. They need to know why they have to act,” she added.

She was happy to see that Race For Water’s engagement session had really motivated the children – she found that the children actually could understand the value of plastic and the global fight against plastic pollution.

When asked to comment on the state of the cleanliness on Gaya Island, Camille said that it is clear to them that the island is in need of a proper waste management system.

To tackle this problem, Camille believes that the way forward is to educate the communities and children on the reduction of plastic waste as much as possible.

“Of course, it is impossible to reduce the use of plastic to zero. We also have to teach how to manage the waste properly. We have to find new models where we can incentivise the people to collect plastic because it has value.

“Some forms of plastic can be recycled, while others can be transformed into electricity to produce energy. It is waste to simply throw plastic into the oceans and landfills,” she explained.

She reckoned that the local industries have the responsibility to produce plastics that are recyclable and that the government needs to implement more laws on plastic pollution.

The engagement session was attended by over 350 pupils from SK Pulau Gaya and 52 students from SMK Pulau Gaya – these are the only two schools on the island.

Even 10-year-old Nursyuhadah Sulaiman can understand the importance of the reduction of plastic use.

“I will teach this to my family and friends. This lesson (on water pollution) has taught me to love the ocean and the marine life. We live here on this island and therefore we should preserve and protect it,” said Nursyuhadah.

Sixteen-year-old Nursyirah said that the programme had given the students and communities of Gaya Island the value of plastic.

She admitted that before this she and her friends had thrown rubbish to waters before, as she did not understand the extent of harm that plastic pollution could have on fish, which is her community’s main source of food on the island.

“This programme is very beneficial to us. Many of the villagers here are not aware of the dangers of plastic pollution,” she said.

Meanwhile, Village Community Management Council (MPKK) member Mohd Sairi Kassim said that there are currently 15,000 people residing in the six villages of Gaya Island.

“In total, there are around 1,500 houses here on the island. I reckon that there are at least ten people living in each house.

“Most of them who live here are fishermen while some travel to the city to go for other jobs,” he said.

He disclosed that both SK Pulau Gaya and SMK Pulau Gaya have over 3,200 students.

“Usually, after finishing their Form Five studies, the students will move to Kota Kinabalu to further their studies,” he added.

Source: Borneo Post Online