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TEACHER HERO:
MIA SISCAWATI
by Grace from Surabaya

Mia Siscawati (www.wwf-efn.org/ grantees.html)

Mia was born in Jakarta on May 29, 1969. As early as her high school days, Mia was interested in the environment and joined a nature lovers group. She did her degree In Forestry at the Bogor Agricultural School and became concerned about the importance of environmental education during her university years. Through LSM she built and became one of the leaders of Rimbawan Muda Indonesia (RMI). She also arranged a program about education of natural environment like Rute Pendidikan Lingkungan (REPLING).

In 1993 Mia was chosen as a member, program UNEP, Global Youth Forum on Environment, in USA. She joined the Fellow Ashoka since in 1995 with the program: “Kampung Pendidikan Lingkungan Berbasiskan Kerakyatan.” After graduation, she devoted her time fully to the Indonesian Institute for Forests and the Environment, despite small financial rewards. She is an extremely resourceful individual and has writing many papers and newspapers articles on her field. Mia now works full-time at Institute as Director and Coordinator of Information and Education.

In Indonesia, she is an Ashoka Fellow, is a pioneer in the field of environmental education, relying primarily on an intermediary crops of volunteers, teachers, and parents to carry her message of environmental protection further.

She is simultaneously introducing environmental teaching into the school system and offering courses on the environment to adults through strategic venues such as botanical gardens. Utilizing trained volunteers, Mia has embarked upon an innovative model to inform the general public of the environment. Mia believes that through broad, sustained education efforts, an environmental movement can be forced in Indonesia that in turn can contribute to environmental protection and bio-diversity conservation. The proper use and management of Indonesia’s natural resources is first and foremost through education.

Indonesia’s harmful developmental practices-urbanization, industrialization, and heedless mineral and other natural resource extraction-have led a rapid deletion of the country’s rich bio-diversity and the degradation of fragile ecosystems. One of the many factors contributing to environmental degradation is that policy-makers and the public often lack full awareness of the problems implicit in the current economic growth pattern, or of the possible alternative paths of development that could afford sustainable livelihoods without undermining the natural resources base. The result is a consistent pattern of over-exploitation.

The urban population’s “modern” lifestyle is environmentally disastrous. Nor are the problems confined to in urban areas: rural agricultural areas are traumatized by “modern” agricultural methods. In order to augment agricultural yields, farmers have increased their use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals, all of which are having many negative effects on the land.

In order to create a national environmental education program of this power, she targets both youth through school and the general public through designated venues and the popular media).

Her next step, using her knowledge of the departmental structures of the Ministry of Educating, was to build an ongoing partnership with the formal “dialogue” for curriculum development between teachers and the Education Development. Her vehicle for this demarche on formal education is the organization that she co-founded while still at university, the Indonesian Institute for Forest and the Environment. The Institute organizes extra-curricular and other “hands on” activities-such as nature field trips that bring environmental education to life. It is invite experts on environmental education to give informal talks on how to organize and integrate an environmental curriculum. Recent speakers include David Holmes of How Hill Environmental Education Center in the United Kingdom and Dr, Helmut Wittman of the German Ministry of Education.

Since 1994, she has organized an environmental program, SIKLUS for a popular local radio station in Bogor, West Java. She is now organizing off-air programs for listeners such as seminars and workshops on specific environmental issues. The first venue for Mia's innovative general public education program is the botanical garden. This initiative grew from a survey that Mia conducted in 1993 to visitors to the Bogor Botanical Gardens, a well-known, complete tropical garden "museum". From the survey learned that only two percent of the visitors came to the gardens for "educational purposes." The materials were written to suit different age groups, and a pool of 75 carefully selected volunteers was trained to be guides. The response was encouraging. In 1994-1995, more than 3,000 students participated in Mia's education program at the Gardens. Mia has built up relationships with schools, and parent-teacher groups to encourage them to visit the Bogor Park. She is now targeting 178 schools in Jakarta, Bogor, Tangerang, Bekasi, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Surabaya to participate in her educational programs. She has also approached women's groups, travel agents and banks in her efforts to encourage visitors to the park. Mia has plans to introduce similar educational tours in three other important botanical gardens in Indonesia–at Cibodas in West Java, Ekakarya in Bali (the biggest in the country) and Purwodadi in East Java. As with the Bogor Botanical Gardens, once established, the program will be self-sufficient through the volunteer tour guides/educators.

Mia is developing a program for a "demonstration farming village". The idea is to introduce environment friendly farming methods (e.g., organic) and to work together with surrounding communities to demonstrate to them the feasibility and success of this kind of farming. She has developed a demonstration plot in Cisarua, Puncak and is in negotiations to obtain a larger plot of six hectares outside of Bogor to base her project.

Mia is also exploring the factory as a possible strategic venue. Her exploratory effort here is with Van Melle Indonesia Inc., a large sweets company. Together, they created a project known as the "urban forest for the industrial area". In its first year, the project has created a "green space" around the factory in order to have a balanced eco-system in the area. The project involved landscape planning, environmental education for employees, planting trees to increase species diversity, shade and pollution absorption, monitoring of the "green space", and proper plant treatment. As a result the partnership, Van Melle has become one of the Institute's main funders, and the factory workers continue to care for the trees they planted.


Written by Grace from Surabaya
Last changed on: 7/29/2013 1:26:30 PM

Mia Siscawati All about Mia Siscawati

Country : Indonesia Field(s) of Work : Environment Target Population(s) : Education, Bio-diversity Protection Organization : Student, Communities/Residents, Youth/Adolescents Location : Rimbawan Muda Indonesia (RMI) at Bogor.

This profile was prepared Mia Siscawati was selected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.

Mia Siscawati is pioneering the field of environmental education in Indonesia.

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