By Gloria Amor Paredes
For the Pulangiyen people of Bendum in Bukidnon in northern Mindanao, Philippines, their land is their life. This is why their gaup or ancestral domain is at the core of all their efforts to sustain their indigenous way of life.
Through a classroom art activity, the Grade 7 students expressed their views on the value of the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their lives and how, as young people, they can contribute. The students conveyed their hopes for a life free from hunger, inequality, armed conflict, and climate disaster. These hopes are accompanied by a recognition of their responsibilities to take care of the environment and its natural resources and to value lifelong education to attain their dreams and for the life of their community.
Teaching children about SDGs is essential so that they understand the challenges that confront them in their daily life. Giving them a voice is crucial in the process of attaining the goals for sustainable development as they seek to share their knowledge with other youth.
In particular, the Grade 7 students, under their Natural Resource Management subject, deal with forest restoration through the program on assisting natural regeneration. They plant seedlings near water sources especially to maintain the water quality.
They study the native species of plants and animals so that they can strengthen their local knowledge of ecosystem sustainability. These are only some of the many things the Bendum youth are doing to protect the beauty and bounty of their environment.
When we educate the youth in managing the ecological services of their land, we also empower them to become leaders who are capable of making positive change. In moving towards the sustainable development path, an active participation from the youth is certainly one of the most fundamental things we need.
Photo caption: Amor is a junior staff at the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) and she is currently assisting APC in developing the high school curriculum.