Suryo wardoyo Prawiroatmodja

Ashoka Fellow
Mojokerto, Jawa Timur, Indonesia
Fellow Since 1990

Citation

This profile was prepared when Suryo wardoyo Prawiroatmodja was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
Long convinced both that most existing approaches to environmental education were not working and that environmental conservation would become real only if Indonesians quickly overcame stunning environmental ignorance, Suryo for years has been insisting that environmental education is essential but will not work unless two conditions are met.

First, there must be a physical demonstration center that serves as the heart of each region's environmental education work. People have to experience the environment either to appreciate it or to understand its complex workings. Theoretical discussions and paper displays are especially unhelpful in this uniquely interconnected, subtle field.

Second, to be effective in this field, a popular educator must be highly motivated, broadly interested, and creative. The number of issues and the diversity of people to be served requires this. Government servants only very rarely have the drive to reach beyond their categories or to create effective ways and expend the energy required truly to reach the public.

Suryo some years ago set out to build a model environmental education program that meets these two criteria. For years his colleagues and supervisors told him he was dreaming, that centers such as he was imagining would be financially unsustainable white elephants. Nonetheless, he persisted. Somehow he amassed the support necessary launch the first such center at Trawas in his native East Java. Located on a wooded 3.7-hectare site, it includes a library, training rooms, a dormitory and bungalows, a greenhouse, a model of a paddy field, demonstrations of alternative and organic agriculture, a segment of a tropical rainforest, and a number of trails.

Through this complex, Suryo provides educational programs that are down to earth, experimental, very concrete, easy to understand - and, therefore, popular. He organizes trainees into small groups of five or so to facilitate discussion and hands-on experimenting. Thus, for example, visitors not only hear of the idea of producing cooking charcoal from garbage, but they also produce and use it themselves. As he refines these programs, he hopes others will copy them and spread their impact.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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