Saturday, October 6, 2012

No to school field trips that wrongfully educate

Here's another article I wrote for POC's Buhay Pinoy channel.  This is a product of the press conference I attended at Max's last month on the same week that the 33rd Manila International Book Fair was held.
Students love field trips. Parents like field trips too, especially when schools ask them to go with their kids. Although parents sometimes complain about the high cost of some field trips organized by their children’s schools, parents recognize the need for their children to learn outside of the classroom setting as well. But are all these field trips really educational? Are they worth the hard-earned money that many Filipino parents spend on their children’s education? Do these field trips teach the Filipino students what they need to know and understand about the things, people, and places they encounter during their field trips?
Congressman Raymond V. Palatino of Kabataan Partylist acknowledged the significant role of schools in the values formation and education of students; thus, he filed a resolution on September 5, 2012 urging the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education to ban school field trips to theme parks with captive dolphins and whales. He stated in his resolution that school children who go to theme park or facilities with dolphins are usually unaware of the cruelty behind their operation. Most of them do not know that these animals are starved so that they are forced to perform tricks before audiences. Moreover, these dolphin facilities provide inaccurate representations of the wild animals’ normal behavior. For example, students might think dolphins are happy and comfortable to perform tricks during dolphin shows, to be close to humans and be touched by them, and to stay in marine or ocean parks. These kinds of field trips also risk teaching the young learners that there’s nothing wrong with holding wild animals in captivity and away from their natural habitat for the sake of human entertainment and profit.
But these are far from the truth. Scientific studies have shown that wild animals like dolphins that are held in captivity die prematurely due to capture shock, exhaustion, stress-related illnesses, injury, and other causes. The truth is that capturing dolphins and bringing them to ocean/marine theme parks to become part of the attractions can eventually cause some species of dolphins to become extinct.
In a press conference held by Earth Island Institute Philippines last September 14, 2012, Louis Ng of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society of Singapore (ACRES) said that he came to the country to remind the Philippine government of its commitment to CITES not to import dolphins from unsustainable sources. He said that the Philippines has already imported a total of 25 dolphins from the Solomon Islands since 2008. According to Ng, a recent scientific study showed that such level of extraction cannot be sustained by the wild population of dolphins in Solomon Islands. He also said that the dolphins are currently being trained at Ocean Adventure in preparation for their shipment to Resorts World in Singapore.
In the same press conference, international dolphin activist Ric O’Barry said that some of the dolphins caught from Taiji, Japan (where dolphin drive hunts and slaughters are done every September each year happens) also find their way to the country and become part of ocean park attractions. He thus encouraged Filipinos not to patronize dolphin shows so that these ocean themed parks would be discouraged to get dolphins and make them attractions in their facility. O’Barry praised the young congressman for filing his resolution against field trips to theme parks with dolphins. He further said that the Philippines will set a good example and send a powerful message to the world about respect for nature and marine animals like dolphins if this bill would be passed into law.
Click here to continue reading the article.

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