In response to the problems caused by the deficiency in terms of sustainable management of the environment, in a context of permanent and alarming deterioration of the environment, the four ACP countries members of the IOC (Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles) decided to set up a pilot project providing regional support for the promotion of an education for the management of the environment. This project is known as the ARPEGE (Appui Régional à la Promotion d’une Education pour la Gestion de l’Environnement) project.
This programme has been devised as an extension to the Regional Environment Programme (REP/COI, 1995-2003, financing 7th FED), which had laid the basis for a regional cooperation in the field of environment, and carried out environmental pre-audits in the member states. This programme had pointed out the crucial need for training in environment management and sustainable development.
A first identification study was carried out in 1997. The results of this study indicated that the introduction of environmental education in schools’ curricula was desired in all the IOC countries. These results put forward the benefits of a regional approach for the setting up of an environmental pedagogy.
The relevance of a regional approach for an environmental education was questioned. A feasibility study was thus carried out in 1998-1999, and confirmed the countries’ interest for this approach. This study recommended considering the ARPEGE project as a pilot project aiming at validating the regional option, and at utilizing environmental education as a regional tool that can help the integration of the regional community concept. The project report which was presented at the end of the feasibility study was examined during a validation workshop in January 1999 in Quatre-Bornes. This workshop has lead to making a funding request with the EC (final report RRI-SECA, August 1999).
Accordingly, a financing agreement was signed in Bruxelles in March 2000, for the sum of 1,8M€ (8th FED). France/Reunion island having withdrawn from the project, the amount of the European contribution was increased as per the codicil of the 18 July 2002 to 1,98M €, and the duration of the financing agreement extended to the 31 December 2005.
The IOC has signed, on the 9 December 2002, a technical assistance contract with the Fondation Universitaire Luxembourgeoise, Arlon, Belgium (FUL, known as the Département des Sciences et Gestion de l’Environnement, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Liège as from January 2004, following its integration with the University of Liège).
The ARPEGE pilot project has actually started in January 2003.
The global objective of the project was to sensitise the younger generations of the ACP countries from the IOC to the protection and sustainable management of their environment.
Its specific objective was the development and validation of a methodology and of an adapted pedagogic tool (such as a “teaching aid kit”) in the pilot educational institutions.
This project’s aim was to set the example in the Indian Ocean context in order to help the State to effectively promote environmental education, without substituting to the latter’s educational function.
Being an IOC experimental programme, the ARPEGE project was a pilot project which placed the regional dimension at the heart of its operations. It had to both link the human resources and the beneficiaries of the four ACP countries in the region, and encouraged the concerned administrations to follow-up the EE regional model.