Monday Enrichment Programme Preview ‘19: Ecological Literacy Programme (Eco-Lit)

By Pyari Chopra (19SO3B) and Shanyl Ong (19S06C)

Contrary to popular belief, the Ecological Literacy Programme, also commonly referred to as ‘Eco-Lit’, isn’t just your typical ‘green club’ or environmental advocacy group. With a plethora of field trips lined up for its members, you’d be hard-pressed to find another enrichment programme that takes you out of the conventional classroom like Eco-Lit does.

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Eco-Lit members joyfully clustered around a sea cucumber in the hands of one of our members (not to be mistaken for the sea cucumber).

In Eco-Lit, we learn by doing. We are often reminded to ‘look longer, look closer, and look harder,’ and go beyond mere observation by getting our hands dirty to form tangible connections with the outdoors. Through Eco-Lit, we learn to embrace curiosity about the environment and our surroundings, and its value to us.

Besides being in awe (commonly expressed in the form of ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s) of the flora and fauna around, we see beauty in the links nature has to the community, culture, practices, and lifestyle of a place. Each and every one of our members has their own personalised journal, a treasure trove of information, in which we record everything – or most of everything – we learn from our ventures.

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A member’s journal.

All this is done to allow members of the Eco-Lit programme (ever so lovingly dubbed ‘Eco-litters’ by our teachers-in-charge, Mr Tan Sijie and Mrs Aileen See), to develop into effective leaders who understand what it means to be sustainable, with their newfound environmental awareness.

When our Monday mornings aren’t spent outside, we partake in intriguing activities in school. Sessions with experts who are involved in conservation or the environmental sector facilitate learning about the various perspectives of the ecological challenges we encounter. We also maintain a garden where we sow the seeds of today (grow fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes and corn) and reap the fruits of tomorrow (harvest the stuff we plant).

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Our garden, when we still used simple wooden supports, before upgrading to the Iron Age.

Bad jokes aside, let’s talk about the most exciting part of Eco-Lit; not our vermicompost bin (although the resident worms are livelier than the average Rafflesian), but our extended field trips! We had an exciting 3-day camp on St. Johns Island, where we got to stay at the research dorms of the National Marine Lab, as well as a jam-packed 10-day trip to Taiwan, during which we learnt how Taiwanese culture shapes the way locals interact with the environment and its various differences and similarities to Singapore, allowing us to further our understanding of human-nature relationships.

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A quick photo before our hike up to the Dalai tribal village, in the rolling hills of Pingtung county, Taiwan.

Lastly, we are provided with the exclusive opportunity to create, illustrate and publish our own books. The optional book project is a self-driven student-initiated extension of the Eco-Lit journey and allows members to raise environmental awareness through a creative medium. Eco-Lit seniors have published 19 titles to date, with our current batch set to add 3 more this June.

We are given the opportunity to form intimate connections with the world around us, as well as to experience it with like-minded batchmates, who you will undoubtedly grow extremely close to. Of the numerous happy memories we have made in Raffles, few come close to those shared through Eco-Lit. Most of us a year ago would never have thought that Eco-Lit would form such an integral part of our school life.

If what you just read excites and exhilarates you, Eco-Lit welcomes you! Our only requirement is that you can commit to our programme fully and attend each field trip. We search for individuals who are willing to learn about the world around them and enjoy the outdoors, all while being completely aware of our surroundings and the environment.

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