Riding on the success of the first ever D’Arros Island school programme this year, the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF), which manages the SOSF D’Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC) on the island of D’Arros, has launched its second D’Arros Experience Competition for school children. 
In a press release, the foundation explained that the programme seeks to promote understanding and respect for the marine environment in Seychelles through children’s education.  
“By combining a team of enthusiastic educators and scientists, together with a range of in-water field experiences, the programme offers a unique and hands-on learning experience that aims to help encourage a sense of ocean ownership in young Seychellois,” said Aurélie Grospiron, communications strategist of the foundation.
Grospiron added that the competition for these spaces is open to all Seychellois primary and secondary school students aged 10 to 14 years old: “Two consecutive one-week D’Arros Experience camps will take place during school holidays and up to eight spaces may be awarded per week.” . 

The programme seeks to promote understanding and respect for the marine environment in Seychelles through children’s education. (Dillys Poupouneau) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   

D’Arros is part of the Amirantes group of Outer Islands of the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.  
The D’Arros Experience engages young Seychellois on the importance of the ecosystems that form part of their national heritage while providing practical, hands-on field experience in a globally important ecological hotspot
The programme is an important component of the foundation’s worldwide mission to promote environmental education and outreach. The idea is to provide students with a clear understanding of how ecosystems, from the coast to the deeper ocean, are connected. 
Students of all schools of the main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue can take part in the competition where they have to come up with an original awareness campaign that teaches an audience about one of the iconic but critically endangered species found in Seychelles and provide ideas on how we can help those species’ populations onto the road of recovery. 
According to Grospiron, the candidate must clearly show: “Why is this species important? What has led to the species being threatened? And what can we do now in Seychelles to help its populations?” 
The awareness campaigns must focus on one of the four listed species from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These are the hawksbill turtle, the sheath-tailed bat, the Seychelles white-eye and the bottlenose wedgefish.
The campaign must be realistic, and can be a video, a story, a poster, a collage of images, an audio recording, and should be in English, Creole or French. The deadline for these submissions is January 6, 2023.
First Island School on D’Arros – best place to educate students
A first island school was held in August this year and was designed to inspire a new generation of Seychellois ocean champions.  

Terence Vel said D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll are a living laboratory for naturalists. (Dillys Poupouneau) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   

“Education is something we focus on at the research centre because research should translate into action. Part of that action is for current and future generations in Seychelles to understand their marine heritage. Seychelles is investing in the building of local capacity so that researchers, conservationists and policy-makers can be sourced from within the country. Children have an important role to play as they will be part of this national pool of human resources that will work for the blue future of this country,” explained Henriette Grimmel, programme director at the research centre. 
Speaking about his vision for the future, student Tuvia says, “I really want to be a marine biologist. I think the ocean is doing pretty well, but there are a lot of negative impacts and I don’t think it will do so well in the future unless there are more people who study the ocean and find out how to help it.” 
“An unforgettable trip as D’Arros is a very beautiful island and people can only dream of visiting it,” Antorico Suzette from Praslin Secondary School told SNA.
Another student, Rylie Panagary, described the trip as very interesting, with lots to learn, adding that staff at the research centre as being very kind. 
One of the two teachers who participated in the experience who spoke to SNA was Sandrine Valentin from Mont Fleuri Secondary School, who described the D’Arros Experience as “mind blowing, unforgettable. It is the best place to educate students about the ecosystem; mainly life on land, life below sea and in the air. Even as a teacher I gained additional knowledge that I can’t wait to share with my eco-students.”  
Terence Vel, who works at the University of Seychelles and represents Island School Seychelles, explained that the intention behind the island school programme is to inspire children to become “wise custodians of the marine world and ambassadors for the natural realm of Seychelles. D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll are a living laboratory for naturalists. It is a privilege for young people to have such a special place to experience marine and terrestrial ecosystems.”  

Source: Seychelles News Agency