Dr. R. Bhanumathi is the Managing Trustee of Pavai Centre for Puppetry. An environment educationist by profession, she has an experience in the art of puppetry spanning over 3 decades. She has done her Ph.D. on the `Status of traditional shadow puppetry and puppeteers of South India’. She conducts regular workshops for teachers, students and others on using the art of puppetry as a tool for communication based on various environmental, conservation and social themes. She has authored text books on environmental and value education in English, a hand guide book in Tamil on butterflies and co-authored a guide book on dragonflies & damselflies in Tamil. She has recently authored a bilingual publication on `Paper puppets’ a puppet making book for children.
Q1) How long have you been in the field of conservation education and what made you take it up?
I have been in the conservation education field since 1984. I took it initially as an opportunity to use my skill as a formal educationist to explore the outreach of non-formal education. However, it sustained my interest all these 34 years and enhanced my skill and helped to gain valuable experiences to reach out to many people both young and old.
Q2) What is conservation education according to you?
Education that encourages behaviours which are environmentally sustainable and help to ensure that future producers and decision makers demonstrate sensitivity towards nature and our planet.
Q3) How important is conservation education?
Conservation education is important as it will ultimately result in sustained growth and development of a nation by keeping nature and biodiversity alive.
Q4) According to you, should it be made imperative to have conservation education as a subject in our educational institutions? If yes, what component of conservation education should be included for the institutions
Yes. Conservation education should be integrated with the curriculum for effective awareness in all educational institutions.
Q5) According to you, is conservation education an integral part of conservation itself? If yes, how do you think it will have an impact on conservation in the long run?
Conservation education is an awareness process with experiences gained FROM and learning ABOUT the environment while `conservation’ is an end result of that awareness process with practical component of `doing’ something FOR the environment. Conservation education should lead into conservation work for better results.
Q6) As someone who has been in this field for long, have you sensed a shift or change in attitude towards conservation education in today’s world?
I have seen a change around the world towards conservation education with growth and development of technology. Conservation education now is more powerful and sensitised due to media and press. Social media too, is helping to reach out to more people through networking. There is more awareness towards conservation education compared to the past. Many youngsters are developing interest in conservation education which is a positive indicator for the betterment of nature and nation!
Q7) What have been the different tools of communication used by you in the field of conservation education?
I have used many tools for communication including projected and non-projected all these years. However, I have sustained the use of a unique tool -`Art of Puppetry’ all these years for conservation education due to its innovativeness, versatility and simple to use tool. I have done many training workshops, sessions etc. for various target groups on conservation education through the art of puppetry for more than three decades.
Q8) Can conservation education be taken up as a career option? What would be your advice to the concerned people if they would like to consider this line of profession?
Conservation education definitely should be taken up as a career option. People with passion for nature, its process and need to preserve should explore the possibilities by starting from a young age. The sustained interest and learning experiences will lead them to be ambassadors of nature through conservation education. We need more youngsters to opt for conservation education and become the change makers