Student Contests Promote Sea Turtle Conservation

24 December 2008 | News story

About 400 students at two middle schools in Quang Tri province demonstrated their knowledge of a sea turtle conservation curriculum developed by IUCN Viet Nam at awareness-raising competitions during the weekend of 20-21 December

Twelve- to 16-year-old pupils in Trieu Lang commune, Trieu Phong district and Hai An commune, Hai Lang district of coastal Quang Tri province presented drawings, skits, poems and written compositions in competitions that determined who could best show their understanding of threats to the marine reptiles and ways to conserve them.

The event was the culmination to a series of eight extra-curricular lessons on sea turtle conservation and habitat protection that the students, grades 6 to 9, received in October and November, after their teachers received training on the theme from IUCN VN.

“The message I would like to send with my essay is that sea turtles are just like us, entitled to a peaceful life in their own habitat, and we need to take action together in keeping the sea clean for the sea turtles,” said Phan Thi Nhi, the second prize double winner for her painting and essay at Hai An school.

The contests were some of IUCN VN’s public education activities under its project to support the Government of Viet Nam’s Marine Turtle Conservation Action Plan. Funding for the lessons primarily came from the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with additional financing from the Royal Danish Embassy in Hanoi.

The five species of marine turtle in Viet Nam’s waters face threats from destructive fishing techniques, a polluted habitat and illegal animal trafficking. Quang Tri was one of two provinces selected for the middle school curriculum because it houses important Leatherback turtle nesting sites.

Representatives from the local education department and other government agencies attended the contests and expressed strong support for the awareness-raising program.

“It’s clear from the students’ enthusiastic participation in the competition that they have well understood the value of sea turtles and the dire need to protect them from extinction,” said Mr. Tran Dinh Lien, head of the Quang Tri Department of Aquatic Resource Protection. “We will continue working on this in collaboration with the coastal communes and IUCN in the time to come.”

A meeting to share teaching and competition organization strategies will be held on 28 Dec. for teachers and students of the two schools. The winning drawings also will be used to create communications products including a 2009 calendar about sea turtle protection.

For more information, please contact Ms. Bui Thi Thu Hien at hien@iucn.org.vn.