In its unwavering commitment to advancing biodiversity conservation education in Southeast Asia, SEAMEO BIOTROP, a regional center specializing in research, science education, and outreach, embarked on a remarkable journey in 2022. The center introduced the Agro-Eco-Edu Tourism Program (AEET) designed to disseminate biodiversity conservation information while infusing an element of enjoyment without compromising on the educational aspect. AEET promises to serve as a prototype "off-class" education model, enabling students to explore biodiversity outside the traditional classroom setting. It goes beyond theoretical teaching to provide hands-on, real-life experiences of biodiversity for the public.
In a bid to address challenges and identify solutions in the development of the Agro-Eco-Edu-Tourism program, SEAMEO BIOTROP conducted a Focus Group Discussion on 26 September 2023. This pioneering discussion utilized a hybrid approach, with participants joining in person at the BIOTROP Studio in Bogor and virtually via the Zoom platform. The primary objective of this discussion was to formulate recommendations for the successful implementation of the Agro-Eco-Edu-Tourism program throughout Southeast Asia, thereby promoting biodiversity conservation education across the region.
Dr. Perdinan, SEAMEO BIOTROP's Deputy Director, act as the resource person during the Focus Group Discussion. Dr. Perdinan provided insights into the program's development and shared the roadmap for the Agro-Eco-Edu Tourism Program at SEAMEO BIOTROP, emphasizing the progress achieved thus far.
Key topics of discussion revolved around the contribution of SEAMEO BIOTROP's Governing Board members in refining program modules, establishing standardized operating procedures, and prioritizing the enhancement of learning experiences. The focus extended to the target beneficiaries, including lecturers, university students, and other stakeholders. The Focus Group Discussion also delved into potential challenges surrounding the adoption of the AEET program, particularly regarding facilities, human resources, and funding. To address these issues, participants explored innovative solutions, including establishing minimal requirements for AEET development, fostering collaboration with other institutions, and managing expectations.
Noteworthy participants in this forward-thinking discussion included SEAMEO BIOTROP's Governing Board members, such as Prof. Darren Yeo Chong Jinn from Singapore, Mrs. Zaitunah Haji Kurus from Brunei Darussalam, Dr. Khin Maung Sint from Myanmar, and Mr. Kritsadapan Palakit (representing Asst. Prof. Kobsak Wanthongchai, Ph.D.) from Thailand. Additionally, SEAMEO BIOTROP's Board of Directors, Managers, Head of Sections, and Unit Heads also joined the discussions.
The Focus Group Discussion was skillfully moderated by Dr. Darlina from the School of Biological Sciences at the University Sains Malaysia, ensuring a productive and enriching exchange of ideas.