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Children Learn About Plants, Insects At IRAD Ekona 

By Helen Tambe* — Some 30 children around Buea and Ekona are undertaking a two-month programme to learn about plants, animals and insects at the Institute of Agricultural Research, IRAD, Ekona.

The programme that started on July 8, is expected to end in September 2013, when most of these children, ranging from three to 12 years, are expected to resume school. Dr. Justine Okolle, an entomologist (a zoologist who focuses on the study of insects) working in IRAD Ekona and a Lecturer in the Department of Plant and Animal Physiology at the University of Buea, organised the workshop for free for the children. 

According to Okolle, who the children fondly referred to as “Insect Man” the holiday workshop is to help the children to appreciate diversity in life, by knowing different plants, animal and insects, and how they are used in research to do many things. He said insects like butterflies and ants are used to make designs in clothes and cars, while the skin of an animal is used to make cars and machines.

The children are taught on how to rear animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, grasshoppers, snails and the type of food they feed on, and how they are kept. Also, they are being exposed to different colours of animals and insects and different patterns used for design. Dr. Okolle said he equally hopes to use the workshop to stimulate the children’s brains so that they can come out with new designs.

“The most important thing is to know about insects and animals that are taught in research and also to have the opportunity to manipulate equipments in the country. They should not only depend on things that are taught in school. This programme is important to the parents because the children are very bored and they spend their time watching videos, which are not educative but on the contrary may lead to crime. Apart from research and science, they would also have social talks which will help their parents,” Dr. Okolle said.

According to him, through social talks they are organising with the Delegation of Youth and Civic Education, they will help the children to avoid crimes. “This will be an opportunity for the children to work with life things like insects, animals, plants and also how these animals or insects behave”. Among other tasks, children were asked to draw plants, insects and animals and give their differences. It would be recalled that Dr. Justine Nambangia Okolle is winner of the 2012 TWAS Research Grants.

(National Polytechnic Bamenda Journalism Student On Internship)
First published in The Post print edition no 01447

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