What is Club Mer?
Club Mer is a marine environmental education programme designed for 14-21 year old youth. The programme includes classroom teaching with lab work and field outings, in addition to swimming lessons. The pedagogy used in the programme focuses on hands-on learning and practical skills, and seeks to integrate environmental education and personal development in a holistic way.
When was it created?
Club Mer was set up in Rodrigues in 1999 as part of the Shoals of Capricorn Programme under the aegis of the Royal Geographical Society. Upon closer of the Shoals of Capricorn Programme, it was continued in 2001 by Shoals Rodrigues a local association registered during the same year. It has now been successfully running for over a decade. Reef Conservation partnered with Shoals Rodrigues in 2007 to replicate the programme at the Beach Resource Centre, and has renewed this partnership again in 2012.
Since the February 2014, we re-launched our Club Mer programme which is a marine environmental education programme created by Shoals Rodrigues targeted at 14-17 year old youths – with a focus on at-risk and out-of-school youth. A group of 20 participants were recruited from Riv du Rempart, Triolet and Grand Bay. This first batch of Club Mer was funded by IOREC / Bluelife, Cap Loisir Ltd, BCE, EMCAR, GFA Insurance, SBM Ltd and Sir Jean Etienne Moilin Ah-Chuen Foundation.
Every Saturday, from 9:00 to 11:00, the participants came to the BRC to follow marine ecology courses. This was followed by a one-hour swimming and snorkel training, by a qualified instructor from the Royal Life Saving Society. The programme lasted for 32 sessions and ended in September 2014 with a certificate ceremony.
Following the success and the demand for the Club Mer programme an agreement was concluded with IOREC /BlueLife to run two more batches of 25 participants each during the period running from October 2014 to May 2015. The participants came from Poudre d’Or village, Poste La Fayette, Pointe des Lascars, Roches Noires and Rivière du Rempart.
Since February 2014, 70 teenagers have gone through the programme.
There are 14 lectures on introductory marine ecology. Topics covered include safety at sea, oceanography principles, ecosystems, and marine animal groups. The classroom-based sessions are supported by 7 field outings where students have an opportunity to learn basic ecological monitoring techniques such as the use of quadrats, examine marine life under a microscope and collect data on fisheries.
Swimming, snorkeling and life-saving
In addition to the above courses, students participate in swimming lessons and snorkeling lessons. Based on the level achieved during the course, students can subsequently move on to life-saving courses to eventually obtain the Royal Life Saving Society Bronze Level Certificate. Students who have passed this certificate can then take the two snorkeling courses: the Lagoon Snorkeler in which students learn snorkeling techniques and the Reef Snorkeler in which students further develop ecological monitoring techniques.
Based on participation in the modules, students are eligible for a series of six awards representing courses grouped together based on topics. For each award, attendance, completion of worksheets and passing a short test is required. Assessments do not aim to be competitive but rather provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate his or her knowledge acquired. Assignments, worksheets and tests recognize the diversity of levels, skills, and learning styles of each student.