Environment and Sustainable Development
In 2005, CMES launched “Basic Schools System and gender empowerment program for the rural disadvantaged children and adolescents to Create Young Social Entrepreneurs in Sustainable Development (YSES)” project first in Malgara under Kaligonj upazila of Lalmonirhat district. To reach the goal of YSES project, the Second phase of the project started in Malgara unit from January 2009 and ended in December 2011.
Based on the success of the YSES project in Malgara, Caritas Switzerland agreed to co-opt our Jaldhaka unit as one of the project area Young Social Entrepreneurs in Sustainable Development (YSES) from January 2009 and ended in December 2011. At the end of the phase, with a view to continue the project in Malgara and Jaldhaka, a prolongation phase was approved by the funding organization (CACH) for the duration of six months from January to June 2012. It was agreed by Caritas Switzerland that the month of July and August would also run as bridging period which would be managed by CMES with no cost extension. Thus From January 2012 both the units continued the program up to August 2012 with no cost extension. During this period, students of both the units gained useful technical skills and knowledge by sincere service of CMES staff. 333 and 236 graduates from Malgara and Jaldhaka respectively were trained on eco-friendly trades.
This special project has taken the education on environment and environmental interventions to the aspects of the Basic School System in a much more effective manner. With financial support from Caritas Switzerland, CMES had been conducting this project in two special unit at Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts which are environmentally and economically challenged northern region of the country. In 2005 CMES started to work in Lalmonirhat through a pilot project named “Basic School System and Gender Empowerment Program for the rural disadvantage children and adolescents to create Young Social Entrepreneurs in Sustainable Development (YSES)” After the first (3 years duration) phase this was extended to another unit in Nilphamari district of the same region.
The goal is to motivate and enable the CMES students and graduates to be more proactive in attaining sustainable development in the area, in harmony with their own aspirations for a better life and livelihood. The project aims at building our students as Young Social Entrepreneurs in Sustainable Development (YSES) who can take up environmental interventions and services as a vocation integrated with their life and livelihood.
With this aim, the grass root environmental issues were incorporated within the curriculum. New and environmentally more positive technologies are being explored and adapted for the project wherever feasible in a continuous process. All the characteristics of the Basic School System have been strengthened to make this challenging effort a success. Through this, environmental issues are not being treated only as some concepts rather responsibilities are taken up by every students. Environmental issues are something to be looked at holistically with the professional and commercial endeavors both by the YSES and the community. To do this the project has been active in a wide range of initiatives from research and exploration to real life adaptation, piloting, training, community motivation, commercialization, campaign etc. The following are some of the technologies and interventions, which have received more attention, and attained more success.
After successful completion of the second phase, CMES started third phase of YSES project in September 2012 in Jaldhaka and Malgara. Since then, CMES has been trying to achieve project targets despite various obstacles and difficulties. During the reporting period, we shifted eight BSPs to get sufficient students as well as making the education reachable to our target group. During the reporting period, we recruited necessary staff for smooth implementation of the project. Due to intensive monitoring and supervision, the project is achieving its targets in terms of outputs/delivery.
Following are some the eco-friendly trades practiced under the project-
Vermicompost is a biofertilizer produced by use of special type of earthworms through composting of suitable biomass such as cow dung, dried leaves, kitchen wastes etc. CMES is very successful in promoting organic agriculture in the area. The farmers welcomed it and the young entrepreneurs have been able to make it into a mission as well as a significant livelihood activity. Vermicompost can be used for all kinds of crops as a substitute of chemical fertilizer.
The apiculture activity had been very popular and acceptable to our graduates because of its profitability. It is not only environment friendly trade but also helpful to the farmers as the pollination process is boosted by the bees which ultimately raise the crop harvest. So, the farmers now pay the beekeepers to encourage to do honey culture on their land. This mutually beneficial operation has been a new trend in our country and it is introduced by CMES through YSES project.
YSES has been able to bring a new momentum in the oyster & milky white mushroom programme of CMES. The YSES lab for mushroom spawn production and its extended culture houses have introduced an environmentally sound sustainable agriculture in the area.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
IPM is being looked at from a much more practical and modern point of view in YSES. While it began as a campaign to educate the farmers in bio control of the pests, along with the training of the students in it mainly by physically eliminating the pests and encouraging natural predators to be around, more concrete steps have later been taken. Replacing the indiscriminating light traps for insects with insect-specific pheromone traps has been a big step forward. Also the introduction of appropriate predator larvae to control the pests is now being tried. These require a lot of experimentation, observation and piloting.
YSES started to work with solar energy from year 2003. More uses of solar energy other than solar home system are being tried through YSES project. Apart from the on-going installations of solar home systems for basic electricity needs. The things for which search and adaptive research are going on include solar pump for deep irrigation, water purification through low power electricity driven chlorination, low cost but commercially available improved oven etc.. Now, adolescents can know about assembling and installation, charge controller and Solar Home System including inverter circuit.
Spirulina is microscopic, thread like blue-green algae, rich in nutrient that has important nutritional values when it is mixed with other food ingredients. After successful R & D in central research centre we transferred spirulina in Binnakuri, Jaldhaka unit from the month of September 2010. . During this time we have scaled up from one pond to four ponds. Each pond has 750 litres spirulina. We have also plan to expand this project another one unit. So now it contains approximately 2200 liters of liquid Spirulina. But, in rainy season the growth of Spirulina becomes slow for lack of sunlight.
Medicinal Stevia plant culture
SES has been testing stevia cultivation in Jaldhaka and Malgara Unit from the month of September 2010. Stevia is a medicinal plant is being used for herbal treatment. The Stevia Leaves contain natural chemical known as steviouside, which is 250-300 times more sweetener than sugar. The main use of stevia is to control diabetes and high blood pressure. In the current phase (2012-2016), we put huge emphasis on plantation of medicinal plants in both units during the reporting period and planted as many as 242 and 262 saplings of medicinal plants in Malgara and Jaldhaka YCs.
Electronics, Electrical Technology
Now, it is age of electronics. YSES project is going to develop this as a trade for the youth.During July 2013 to December 2014, student attendance increased in both the YCs in comparison to previous period. Function of student government, CWCs and participation of students in “Home to Home Work” – all increased. Activities under the Gender program such as weekly gender session and monthly conventions are also doing good in terms of regular commencement and members’ participation.
Basic School System (BSS) for Education and Technical Skills
CMES extends it endeavours to provide an effective and practical second chance to disadvantaged and dropout adolescent boys and girls for completing their basic education through Basic School System (BSS), which evolved through long practices. Self-motivated participation in the teaching-learning process with emphasis on TVET a scientific and practical mindset and competencies are some essential elements of BSS. As income generation is an imperative for this group, BSS therefore emphasizes on technology based skills training along with the general primary and junior secondary level education, made immediately relevant to their environment and skills necessary for improving the quality of life and livelihood.
CMES enrolls two types of students- (a) Mainstream students and (b) Diversified students. Mainstream students are disadvantaged adolescents aged 12 years or above who are either dropouts from formal education system or did not get the chance to get primary education at all. During the year 2013, some 20,000 students are enrolled in the BSS as mainstream students of which majority are girls. Diversified students are those who participate in different trade courses by paying a small amount of fee. The duration of the Diversified Courses are usually three to six months. Some 805 students are now enrolled in various trades.