Deep dive into the climate crisis

By Anshuman Behera, Balabhadra Mahapatra, Dinabandhu Patra, Likita Behera and Seema Munda

Our students visually travelled thousands of kilometres to the coast of Tamil Nadu to learn from the lives of fisherwomen. In PARI story, Tamil Nadu’s seaweed harvesters in rough seas, warming waters due to climate change and the overexploitation of marine resources, are eroding the livelihoods of deep sea divers – fisherwomen who are now struggling to survive. Through this story, we introduced the impact of climate change on waters and seas, and how women are the most impacted. 

Anshuman Behera, 25, Gadadharapur village, Ghatgaon block, Kendujhar:
When I told my students about the seaweed harvesters, they were stunned. “Do women also take part in all this?” they asked me. I told them that it is only the women who do this. Seaweed harvesting is a traditional occupation passed on from mother to daughter, in that region. The seaweed they bring out of the sea is then taken to Madurai.

Students followed the links to reports provided in the story too, as they wanted to learn more about the topics. This helped them understand the effects of carbon dioxide emissions and other issues which they were unaware of. 

I teach around 60 children from these 3 villages, from Class 3 to 5. They receive weekly facts related to climate change, and PARI stories help better grasp these concepts. Even their parents get involved and like to know more. 

Balabhadra Mahapatra, 24, Pipilia village, Ghatgaon block, Kendujhar:

Before introducing this story, I asked the students about the different kinds of work their mothers are engaged in during the day. Some students said that their mothers don’t work or go outside the house. Then I told them about the fisherwomen who harvest seaweed in Tamil Nadu and how climate change is affecting their earnings. After listening to this story, those students who said their mothers don’t work realised that they are actually engaged in a lot of work. Students also initiated a discussion about how the women in their communities can earn money through the work they do. 

I teach 37 students from ages 6 to 11 years in Pipilia, Kaliabeda and Badasahi. I really enjoyed teaching this story to my students. I strongly believe that humans have played a huge role in creating problems in our environment, and we need to rethink our actions for positive change. I am glad I was able to talk to my students about these issues and how they impacted us. 

Likita Behera, 23, Tara village, Ghatgaon block, Kendujhar:

I teach 57 students  between the ages of 6 and 12 in Manata village in Tara panchayat. I used two PARI stories in my classroom – Buffaloed by the climate in Kolhapur and Tamil Nadu’s seaweed harvesters in rough seas.

While teaching my students about seaweed harvesters, I connected concepts about climate change they had learned earlier from the story about human-animal conflict in Kolhapur. The story about fisherwomen gave me the opportunity to talk about how climate change impacts women who work more, especially in these conditions. Students learned how hard these women work, despite all odds and understood the importance of conservation through this story. 

Dinabandhu’s student, Mohit Dalei, 11, holding the chart he made after reading this PARI story. Photo by Dinabandhu Patra

Dinabandhu Patra, 24, Golabandha village, Ghatgaon block, Kendujhar: 

This was the first time students were hearing about seaweed harvesters. They had never learned about fisherwomen in this occupation before. 

I teach 60 students in classes 2 to 6 in Upardiha and Dukhabahali villages. Before teaching them this story, I told them about a pond close to our village which is also home to snails. My students, a majority of whom are from the Munda Adivasi community, eat snails. Their families collect the snails from this pond, boil and eat them. The pond now dries up more frequently. They understood how our areas are also affected by climate change. 

These stories are very relatable to students and should be included in the textbook to raise awareness about climate change. 

Seema Munda, 26, Fakirmunda village, Koira block, Sundargarh:

While discussing this story, students agreed that the climate is changing; this story helped them understand that better. I teach 51 students in classes 5 to 8 from different hamlets of the same village. The story inspired the students to think about what they should do in the future. Their parents are also aware of the changes in the climate and wish to do something for the sake of their children’s future. 

Seema’s students, Rahul Munda, Class 9, Raimuni Surin, Class 9, Saraswati Sing, Class 7, and Basanti Bage, Class 6, made this poster after reading this story. Photo by Seema Munda

I believe knowing about climate change is important in understanding what causes these changes and how it will impact us. PARI stories help to realise, plan, and reduce nuksaan [damage].

This initiative by non-governmental organisation ASPIRE and Tata Steel Foundation aims to bring stories of climate change’s impact on rural India into the classroom.

The PARI Education team would like to thank student interns, Rohan Chopra, Sanviti Iyer and Shail Hundekar for their support in putting together this blog.

About the teacher

Dinabandhu Patra, Rashmi Kandulna, Anshuman Behera, Balabhadra Mahapatra, Seema Munda and Likita Behera read the PARI story, 'Tamil Nadu’s seaweed harvesters in rough seas' with their students from classes 2 to 9.

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