Indonesia has the unfortunate reputation of being the second-largest plastic polluter in the world, producing around 7.8 million tons of plastic waste every year, 4.9 million tons of which are mismanaged.
The Indonesian government in 2015 announced a national waste awareness movement initiative, yet there has not been any coordinated effort at the local level to educate Indonesians about the need to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic and the importance of proper waste management in their communities. However, there is a striking exception. In the South Kalimantan regency of Hulu Sungai Tengah, where the local government has been dealing for many years with the problem of plastic waste, in 2021 implemented an economy-based waste management system. Much of its success can be credited to the Hulu Sungai Tengah Regent Aulia Oktafiandi who has instituted many local initiatives in his regency.
Having heard of the work of Mudfish No Plastic, an NGO based in Bali, Oktafiandi in March 2022 visited their headquarters in Gianyar Regency to learn more about their educational program. As a result, a collaboration was created to implement the Mudfish No Plastic environmental and plastic pollution curriculum developed for the children’s workshops it runs in Bali in every school in Hulu Sungai Tengah.
The first phase of the project, which will run for two years, began on the 2nd and 7th of June 2022 with an extensive Educator Training Program for 40 teachers from 20 different schools. One of the workshop participants, Faridi, a teacher at SD It Al Khair Barabai, said that the information and techniques provided would be very useful for the future and important for the education of the children in their schools. After the workshop, the Co-Director of Mudfish No Plastic Mora Siregar said, “I was very excited to see the enthusiasm of the teachers who attended the workshop, and I believe they feel the urgency and have the enthusiasm to share what they learned from Mudfish No Plastic with their students.”
The Hulu Sungai Tengah project was designed by Mudfish No Plastic based on its previous experience training educators in Bali in collaboration with the East Bali Poverty Project, a non-profit foundation in Padangsambian, Bali. That project provided 13 teachers (elementary, junior and high school levels) with important environmental information to share with students. The subjects included single-use plastics antheirts relationship to health and the environment. Educators were also provided with classroom activities to use including lessons, quizzes, arts and crafts activities, and video screenings.
The collaborations in Kalimantan and in Bali are important steps to expand the education of Indonesia’s youths so that they understand the problem of single-use plastic pollution and improper waste disposal, along with changing their behaviour and hopefully everyone in their community. Mudfish No Plastic, which has been running workshops about pollution for children in Bali, Java, Sumbawa, and Lombok since 2017, is committed to expanding its outreach teacher training program to all the regencies in Indonesia and welcomes inquiries from community leaders that would like to expand their school curriculums to include the much-needed information about plastic pollution and methods for reducing it at the local level.
Anyone interested in having Mudfish No Plastic run workshops for the teachers in their school district should contact Mora Siregar at [email protected].