The Bahamas is made up of approximately 700 islands and more than 2200 cays, and harbors immense biodiversity in its coral reef system which makes up 35% of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Furthermore, much of the country's population depends on marine resources for their livelihoods, such as through fishing and ecotourism. Although environmental education has not been widely incorporated into the national curriculum, a wide range of non-profits implement environmental education initiatives throughout the archipelago, many in conjuction with biodiversity and marine conservation programs.
Policy & Practice
The Bahamas currently does not have any national legislation or national mandate for environmental education, however a number of national policies include promoting public awareness and education among their goals, including the National Biodiversity Strategy, the National Climate Change Policy, National Energy Policy, and National Wetlands Policy.
EE in K-12 Education
The Bahamas currently does not include a national environmental education program within the K-12 curriculum. Some teachers do infuse teachings of environmental education into their classes, however environmental education is yet to be widely integrated into K-12 education.
The Ministry of Education has included environmental education in several guiding documents:
- Vision 2030: A Shared Vision for Education in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas notes that primary school students are “expected to have an appreciation of their physical environment and of society, and to understand their duty and responsibility to community;” and every secondary school student should (among other competencies) “embrace his roles as environmental steward”
- The Teachers Handbook emphasizes the importance of environmental stewardship and civic engagement, particularly for Social Studies
Environmental educators in the Bahamas largely take part in professional development at their own cost, however there are occasionally scholarships and small government grants available.
The Bahamas does not currently have a national environmental education association. See “Organizations” for a list of active non-profits using environmental education in the Bahamas.
EE in the national government
The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources collaborates with the Ministry of Education on any state-run environmental education initiatives. The previously mentioned environmental policies and strategies that include education are overseen by the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission (BEST), which serves as the coordinating hub for all environmental activities within The Bahamas.
National EE campaigns and funding
Environmental education is largely funded by NGOs.
The Bahamas Reef Environmental Education Foundation (BREEF) implements a number of programs in the country, such as the Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholars (BESS) Programme, and is the in-country host for the Foundation for Environmental Education’s (FEE) EcoSchools program.
The Bahamas National Trust also acknowledges that education is key to environmental stewardship, and their Education Team reaches thousands of students each year through camps, clubs, park visits, and other education programs.
The Nature Conservancy also incorporates education into their work to protect the coral reef in the Bahamas.
Environmental education is also taught through short-term programs that are sourced both locally and internationally as well. For example, Fishing for Families in Need, which is an American nonprofit has taught summer camp programs centered on marine science and conservation during multiple summers since 2012.
Furthermore, the Lyford Cay Foundation also provides scholarships and community grants to local non-profits in the Bahamas that “provide access to traditional and diverse opportunities for learning,” including those that work on environmental awareness.
The Government of the Bahamas’ Maritime Matters also lists many other organizations using environmental education on their Education/Awareness webpage.