NASSAU, Bahamas — Students from The College of The Bahamas joined students from the University of Maryland in a clean up the South Beach recreation area last week.


The visiting University students are in The Bahamas as part of an 11-day Service Learning Programme where students work on issues such as the environment, sustainability and community development.


COB’s International Relations Liaison Valdez K. Russell explained that the University of Maryland’s Service Learning Programme goes a step beyond the normal community service, which involves just the picking up the trash.


Mr. Russell said it is more important for the students (including COB’s) to understand why the trash accumulated, to find out why persons dump their trash in undeveloped areas and what can be done to get Bahamians to take pride in their environment.


Mr. Russell added that the College wants to educate others on how to improve their surroundings and keep communities clean.


Staff Advisor and Director of Leadership and Community Service Learning at the University of Maryland Craig Stack said the students, who arrived January 13, did more than help to clean up the South Beach recreational area.


Mr. Stack said, “We have had a fantastic opportunity to interact and really live with community members specifically over in Andros staying in Staniard Creek, where we really lived with the community and learned what the community interests are as they relate to the environment.”


While in Andros the University students created a path to two blue holes to provide easier access.


Mr. Stack said they met with high school students to learn more about what the secondary education system is teaching and what students think about the environment; they met with government officials to better understand government policies concerning the environment and met with US Embassy officials to see how they plan on helping the country on matters relating to the environment.


While the students from abroad and COB were cleaning up the South Beach area, workers from the Environmental Health and Roads and Parks Beautification Department were also doing their part in the clean up.


Director of Environmental Health Melony McKenzie said that in order to deter persons from illegally dumping their trash after the clean up, surveillance cameras are going to be strategically placed in the area.


Ms. McKenzie also noted that the government has a three-phase plan to clean up and beautify New Providence.  It will be a step-by-step process to eliminate having to redo the process. Once the phases are complete, the Director explained that New Providence would turn into a garden city.


Several initiatives in the process include placing garbage bins on bus stops, beaches and popular routes throughout the island; publishing a series of newspaper articles on how to properly dispose of various types of waste and airing jingles on radio stations to reinforce the message of keeping The Bahamas clean. Ministry officials will meet with community groups on keeping the country clean.


Ms. McKenzie said in an effort to keep all areas of the country beautiful, the collection of bulk waste will be carried out by the Department of Environmental Health on certain days of the week or month in various communities and residents in those areas will be notified as to the days when this service will be available.


The aim will be to stop persons who cannot afford to have their bulk waste collected from disposing of it in their community or in bushy and undeveloped areas.


Regular garbage collection will also increase in those areas. Authorities are expected to be more vigilant and enforce the laws against littering and the improper dumping of trash.