Interactive learning about local plants with primary school students in the High Atlas
By Pommelien da Silva Cosme, Communications and Field Officer, Global Diversity Foundation
Right before summer vacation, I joined Field Researcher, Hajar, and Community Researcher, Fadma, for an exciting morning activity at a local primary school in the High Atlas community of Imegdal. After crossing a quiet river and hiking up a hill, local teacher Zahar welcomed us in her colourful classroom. We introduced ourselves and our work to a group of 16 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 12, after which Hajar and Fadma kicked off the activities with a short brainstorming session on the student’s connections with biodiversity, the environment they live in and local cultural practices.
We then carried out a short exercise, inviting everyone in the class to present on the most common products found in their household basket when going to the local shop or market, also known as ‘souk’. Other than staple food products (milk, sugar, tea) the group also identified locally grown produce such as almonds and apples, which helps increase our understanding of the available, useful and valuable crops found in their community.
Following these presentations, the students had to identify the edible parts of several vegetables—indicating their roots, leaves and fruits—through a fun colouring game. We saved the best for last with a challenging botanical quiz. In pairs, the students were asked to match eight photos of local plants with their vernacular names, after which we discussed in group their uses and the environment in which they are grown. We were quite impressed by their plant knowledge!
As our morning activities came to an end, the teacher surprised us all with a demonstration of three short films she made with her students about local traditions, such as the harvest and preservation of black olives. We are very grateful to the students and their teacher for their participation and we look forward to continuing our activities this school year!
An important aspect of our High Atlas Cultural Landscapes Programme involves targeted outreach to local communities including youth. In collaboration with our local partner Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association (MBLA), we distribute materials on traditional plant knowledge and organise workshops for community members to discuss valuable crops and local practices. This activity was part of a series of multiple dissemination activities in three different villages in the High Atlas communities of Imegdal and Aït M’hamed.