【MCEE】Training Session for Teachers - Worries from a Foodie
Date:2016-05-06 Editor: Big Normal Small 】【Print Close

On 6 May 2016, the Migrant Children Environmental Education (MCEE) project held a training session for teachers themed "Food Safety" in Beijing Xingzhi School. A total of 28 teachers participated in the training session.


In the last four years, MCEE has been providing environmental education resources to schools for migrant children. This training focused on the following key words: organic food, healthy water source, agricultural chemicals, intensive production, migrant children, and street food.


The objective of the training was to improve the competence of the teachers on environmental education, to help them realize the importance of food safety, and impart valuable knowledge to their students in the future. At the same time, the participatory format of the training and the use of experiments created opportunities for the teachers to explore and exchange ideas in the classroom, allowing the teachers to learn from each other, and provided guidance on the direction of environmental education in schools.


The training session began with a light-hearted icebreaker activity in the afternoon.



Mr. Duan, the Project Manager of MCEE, used the industrialization of the UK as a case study to explain the environmental problems in developed countries in the 18th century. This also serves as an example of developing countries in today's world. Food safety impacts our health, and it is crucial to the growth of our children in the future. The teachers began to worry about the various types of food safety issues that exist around us today. 



Previously, Mr. Duan had read a popular book called the "Silent Spring", which was written during the industrial age by the author, Rachel Carson. In those days, people wanted to generate a high yield of crops, and the author often witnessed planes in the sky spraying massive amounts of pesticide on crops. This broke the equilibrium of bio-diversity and resulted in the dramatic decline of a number of animal species. As a result, the forest lost its vitality.


Nowadays, the term "Organic Vegetables" is extremely popular in the market and it is highly sought after by people. Why are people willing to pay expensive prices to purchase organic products? The reason is because an excessive use of pesticides found in non-organic products is detrimental to our health, and may even lead to poisoning.


Under the guidance of Mr. Duan, we divided the teachers into five groups to test the pesticide content in the vegetables via strips of test paper. The vegetable samples were organic crowndaisy chrysanthemum and non-organic celery leaves and leek. The teachers were all highly curious about this experiment.


From the experiment results, four out of five groups showed that organic vegetables contain less or no pesticide than non-organic ones, while the other group derived the opposite result. While waiting for the experiment results, the teachers also recalled their childhood when their fathers cultivated and enjoyed pesticide-free crops. However, the pollution of water sources has resulted in changes in the environment, influencing the quality of food and causing many people to fall ill.



The teachers acknowledged that the use of experiments is a good way to educate the children, but the schools do not have the conditions and resources to provide professional experimental classes for children. However, this simple and scientific method of the test paper can help to develop the students' observation skills and rigour, and the teachers would be applying for the seed fund grant to try out this new teaching method in the future. 


In the remainder of the training content, Mr. Duan also introduced the source of water, and how the freshwater resource on Earth is gradually depleted over the years. When we were visiting other migrant schools, we found that children drank un-boiled water directly when they were thirsty, wasted water when they were washing bowls, and demonstrated other bad habits. These habits would all need to be changed in the future by trained teachers. In addition, the beef, pork, and other meat that we consume daily are all obtained from animals that grew up quickly in an intensive production mode. We urged the teachers to eat a balanced diet and reduce the need for meat, so that we can find equilibrium in the supply. Once the demand is reduced, the quality of the supply will increase.



From industrial environmental pollution, to agriculture and daily needs, we eventually focused back on the migrant children. Our children are the future of our country, but they are consuming food from many street vendors outside their school that do not own an operating permit, and whose source of food is unknown. Therefore, it is essential to educate schools on food safety and to reject the consumption of street side food. Students should be educated not to consume street food, or purchase expired and unqualified food. They also need to learn to identify food safety marks and read the production date, and impart the correct food safety knowledge to more people.


Through this training, the teachers refreshed their concept of environmental education, and also expressed their interest in some environmental related topics through a feedback form. The principal also hopes that food safety training would be conducted on a continuous basis. In addition, the school indicated that they would continue to absorb the learning content of environmental education, and enable the training to become an indispensable part of the teachers' education and teaching curriculum, so that food safety training can truly benefit the students.


We look forward to the next training session for the teachers!

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