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Chek Jawa an ideal outdoor classroom
Vilma d'Rozario Chairman, Education Group Nature Society
The Straits Times Forum Page, 28 Dec 01

On-line version on Straits Times Interactive

I refer to the news issued on Dec 20 by the Ministry of National Development on the deferment of land reclamation works at Tanjung Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin.

On behalf of the Education Group of the Nature Society and friends, I applaud the Government's decision to save this unique and richly biodiverse marine and terrestrial habitat.

We thank our policy makers for caring enough about our natural environment to have considered the numerous public appeals to preserve Tanjung Chek Jawa seriously. We appreciate their listening to us and taking concrete steps to protect the treasure we have at Tanjung Chek Jawa.

We are excited because we can picture Tanjung Chek Jawa as an ideal outdoor classroom. Its sandflats and beach forest are accessible and thus suitable for teaching and learning. Perhaps a boardwalk could provide access to tide pools without damaging marine flora and fauna?

The various habitats at Tanjung Chek Jawa such as the sandflats, mudflats, tidal pools, mangrove forest, beach forest and rocky shore offer great potential for hands-on learning about our native flora and fauna.

This natural outdoor classroom may be used to value-add to our school curriculum, providing our students' with real-life examples of marine and beach habitats, and increasing their knowledge of nature.

Opportunities abound for multi-disciplinary, collaborative project work, learning, observing, experimenting, analysing, synthesising, applying and hypothesising.

We see Tanjung Chek Jawa as a place where our youths can learn first-hand about the complexity and fragility of our natural environment and how best to preserve our natural heritage. Older students can teach younger ones about the wonders of Chek Jawa and how to become active agents of conservation.

Most of all, we see Tanjung Chek Jawa as a tool to help our youths discover the wonders of nature.

Besides its educational value, Tanjung Chek Jawa has preservation value, being one of the last few marine habitats in Singapore.

The sandflats provide a sense of space at low tide, something highly prized by Singaporeans looking for a place to unwind. There is a simple joy in walking in the sand, enjoying the sea breeze, and marvelling at the unique sea creatures that thrive there.

With the suspension of reclamation works at Tanjung Chek Jawa, we can now picture this gem of a place helping our children develop a sense of pride and appreciation of our land.

The Nature Society would be happy to work with the Ministry of National Development, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the National Parks Board to discuss further how best to protect marine life at Tanjung Chek Jawa while bringing its wonders to nature lovers.
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