Founder: LYNN SIGOUIN FREIJI
"Lynn Sigouin Freiji, of a Canadian origin, is the mother of three daughters, one of them was dyslexic who, while bright, found school awkward and frustrating. She observed that the teaching techniques used in the girls' classrooms did not foster critical thinking or creativity, even for children who were normal learners. For her daughter, the challenge was greater and the instruction less relevant to learning. Lynn began (first in her own mind) to challenge the prevailing assumptions in Egypt about how children learn and about the teacher's role in guiding learning.
As Lynn began to probe, science education attracted her attention especially. Because she lived on a farm, she saw that the physical and life sciences are easily linked to outdoor activities, thus presenting an especially important opportunity to experiment with hands-on learning. In 2000, she set about the process of self-education, carefully looking over the science curricula used in the United States, Canada, U.K., and Egypt. She identified common denominators of the various curricula and began to develop a program to fill the gaps she saw in science education in Egypt.
While continuing to develop the curriculum–which she does from an on-site study and library she has built for herself and her colleagues who are graduate students and partners in curriculum design–Lynn has turned her attention to a parallel pursuit: appending what she has learned and found to be effective to the national school curriculum. She hopes that by starting with science education, she will effect broader changes in learning and education in Egypt and in the region.
Wants to replace the stale, pedagogic methods that characterize science education in today's classrooms with a hands-on, child-centered approach that gets students out of their classrooms and into the world. The 100 or more structured outdoor activities (usually half-day or day-long field trips) she has designed put students ages 6 to 18 at the center of learning; encourage them to explore nature, science, and history in ways that are fun and instructive; and link directly to the homeroom lessons in the national science curriculum. Rather than learning by rote, children learn by doing; they discover, explore, and deduce scientific principles based on their experiences, experiments, and observations. In the process, they gain confidence in their creativity and critical thinking skills and learn to formulate, articulate, and refine hypotheses".
The Wadi Environmental Science Centre (WESC) founded in 1998, is dedicated to progressive outdoor environmental education. The goal of WESC is to complement and build on what is currently taught to Egyptian students in the field of science. Our students learn from cooperative, collaborative, hands-on and inquiry-based discovery. We teach students about their environmental and cultural heritage through science: water, renewable energy, waste management, pollution issues, environmental sustainability, biodiversity and climate change.
At WESC, we recognize the urgency for Egyptian educational reform and see the creation of a wider and deeper awareness, consensus and understanding of environmental science amongst children as a valuable opportunity to bridge the gap between education and the real world. In this way, we can have an impact on Egypt’s people by changing attitudes and actions about the sustainable and appropriate use of our natural resources, how we can advance suitable technologies, and influence policy changes.
WESC has the capacity to work with over 14,000 students annually, from approximately 100 schools (both private/language and Egyptian National) on various field trips at our premises and elsewhere.