The E-Base, at first sight, seems like just about any other classroom. A laptop, a television, a few bulletin boards, a recently added library; how extraordinary could this space be? Very, explains Pooja Choksi.
The E-Base, at first sight, seems like just about any other classroom. A laptop, a television, a few bulletin boards, a recently added library; how extraordinary could this space be? But this small room, that runs on a kilo watt of solar energy, has become the hub for local students; a gateway to the world outside Pench, the Tiger Reserve near which they reside. Walk in on a weekend and you are sure to see the local children busy attending workshops, watching documentaries, conducting science experiments, catching up on some reading or simply marveling at encyclopedias. Our workshops cover everything from renewable energy, bio mimicry and analysing lifecycles of everyday things to bird watching by the lake.
‘Sher bachao, Van bachao’ has become a hackneyed slogan with diluted effect. To truly impassion the youth to participate in habitat conservation and make sustainable development the norm, we had to think outside the box. It is in this light that the Education-Base (E-Base) came to be. In 2011, Conservation Wildlands along with the Pench Tiger Reserve forest department and Robert Swan established the world’s second E-Base right in the centre of India at the Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh.
A Class Apart
The E-Base brings together environmental sensitisation, education and student enrichment to form an unconventional ‘E-Base Program’. The program includes environmental and science education, liberal arts, mobile libraries and reading programs, school and village level projects and much more. The curriculum engenders the holistic development of the students shaping the next generation of community leaders. It is this bunch of better informed and mindful youth that will champion the cause of sustainability in their villages. The E-Base program employs the most creative ways to educate and sensitise the kids. Just this year, the students made a film on their relationship with the forest of Pench. Armed with cameras and tripods, in we went to the buffer zones to capture the gorgeous wood spider, baronets, langurs and more. The students stopped to observe, for the first time, how a wood spider weaves its web, and caught it all on camera; one can only imagine the thrill they experienced on having done so! These are the moments that shape their love and appreciation for the deciduous beauty of Pench- the forest in their very backyards.
Photos Pooja Choksi and Monica Szczupider.
Pooja Choksi is a wildlife conservationist pursuing her Master of Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is a 2016 Wildlife Conservation Network Scholar and a 2016 Andrew Sabin Environmental Fellow. Prior to her arrival at Yale, she worked on a community based wildlife conservation model in the Pench Tiger Reserve, India. She strongly believes in the potential education, especially rural libraries hold to enable change for a more sustainable future. At Yale, she focuses on using spatial analysis for wildlife conservation and is particularly interested in species connectivity and creating coexistence landscapes. Pooja continues to work as a freelance writer for environmental and wildlife websites. She holds a bachelors degree in Banking and teaching experience in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, which she fondly calls her second home. She is interested in everything that involves tigers, forests, education and travel that includes tents and no cell phone reception. Follow her @Poojation