KYRGYZ MOUNTAINS ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND CITIZEN SCIENCE PROJECT (KMEECS)

Project Team:

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Azamat Isakov; Aliya Ibraimova; Bilimbek Azhibekov; Stephanie Gentle;
Aline Rosset; Altyn Kapalova; Albina Muzafarova; Aikena Orolbaeva; Sonja Dimter.

 

 

 

 

 

Project Goal & Key Objectives

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The overall goal is to pilot the KMEECS project and to provide an

analysis of all involved stakeholders and their interests in adopting

OCS approaches.

 

 

 

 

Key objectives:

  1. Generate locally relevant environmental data on high mountain socio-ecological systems through citizen science, involving students and teachers in schools of Naryn, Kyrgyzstan.
  2. Contribute to improving environmental education and awareness about     the local environment in rural schools.
  3. Improve the access to knowledge and environmental information in marginalized mountain regions of Kyrgyzstan.
  4. Promote innovative, participatory and open research principles in Kyrgyzstan.

Research Approach & Methods

The research employs a participatory action research framework combined with a stakeholder analysis. It is based on the principles of cognitive justice.

  • Participatory development of resource packages for educational citizen science activities on water monitoring;
  • Data collection, management, analysis and visualization;
  • Organization of a school competition on scientific inquiry, presentation of results in a public exhibition;
  • Stakeholder and network analysis.

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Initial Findings

  • Water monitoring was selected by local stakeholders due to its crucial importance for the rural areas.
  • Rather low interest in data that will be gathered by project participants from national academia, due to lack of trust in data quality, but high interest in the educational value of the activities.
  • Although little is known about open science, there is a high interest in participating in citizen science activities.
  • Students (in particular girls) who participated in the meetings proved to be very active and interested.

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Lessons learnt:

  • Motivation-based selection of teachers is an effective approach, as the selected participants demonstrated unexpectedly high levels of enthusiasm, creativity and participation.
  • An innovative approach combining citizen science and environmental education has been received well among partners organizations, who consider contributing to the project for increasing its reach.

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Overcoming Challenges Faced

Challenges Pathways to address challenges
Scientific research perceived as task only suitable for trained scientists Communicate that locals are qualified for understanding

and investigating their own environment

Low governmental capacities for water monitoring Demonstrate that simple analyses can contribute to filling a data gap and at the same time foster environmental awareness
Low salaries of teachers lead to low motivation and engagement Give teachers a voice for participating in development of materials
Lack of equipment for hands-on teaching and environmental monitoring in rural communities Focus on low-cost experiments and tools, mainly based on locally

available materials

Culture of restricted information flow, mistrust and bureaucratic regulations originating in the Soviet era prevents the deployment of a culture of openness in Kyrgyzstan Participation in national level platforms for amendments to policies and for fostering a change in attitudes

 

Next Steps

  • Elaborate and test a collection of experiments and activities on water monitoring (mapping, water quality monitoring, water flow measurements).
  • Training of teachers and collection of data by children and teachers.
  • Exhibition and school competition on the citizen science activities and local environmental challenges for presentation and dissemination of the results at the local and national levels.
  • Final workshop to promote OCSD principles and citizen science as innovative education methods across Kyrgyzstan.

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