Empowering Education through Lens and Learning: Photowalk Hutan Lipur Chemerong

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“An unforgettable memory for me is the moment when I beheld the breathtaking waterfall and had the opportunity to observe and identify numerous types of flora and fauna species within the tropical forest.” said Muhammad Afiq Ridzuan Bin Tajul Ariffin, one of the participants from SMK Seri Dungun.

“Having the opportunity to meet and connect with participants from different schools, while also relishing the natural beauty of flora and fauna at the Chemerong Tropical Forest, allows me to further nurture my passion for photography. Additionally, it enables me to gain a deeper appreciation for the wonders of nature and feel fortunate to contribute both beauty and knowledge to the world through Wikimedia projects.” another comment from Muhammad Dhia Mifzal bin Faisal from SMK Paka.

Picture: Group photo in the Hutan Lipur Chemerong

On October 8th, the Wikimedia Community User Group Malaysia, in partnership with the Dungun District Education Office and the Terengganu Forestry Department, successfully organized a photowalk event within the pristine environs of the Chemerong Tropical Forest, located in the state of Terengganu, Malaysia. This momentous occasion marked the inaugural foray of the Wikimedia Community User Group Malaysia into conducting Wikimedia activities within the state of Terengganu.

The Photowalk Hutan Lipur Chemerong, a collaborative effort, not only served as a pioneering initiative but also underscored the remarkable cooperation extended by the Terengganu Forestry Department. This cooperation materialised in the form of special permission granted for us to conduct a knowledge dissemination program within an area that had been previously temporarily off-limits to visitors. Furthermore, the Terengganu Forestry Department offered invaluable assistance through their dedicated staff, facilitating the successful execution of the event.

Aimed at promoting active student participation, this initiative has been organised to encourage students to willingly share media content pertaining to the Hutan Lipur Chemerong on the Wikimedia Commons platform. This initiative takes the form of a photowalk, offering participants a guided photography tour through the captivating Chemerong tropical rainforest.

“I was mostly aware of Wikipedia, and I had no idea about expansive opportunities for exploring new content within Wikimedia, especially Wikimedia Commons” said Mifzal.

This unique opportunity provides participants with the chance to explore and capture the remarkable biodiversity within the area, encompassing an array of flora, fauna, and picturesque landscapes. Activities featured during the photowalk include the documentation of wildlife, macro photography, the depiction of distinctive plant species, and the creative capture of the interplay of light and shadow within this ecosystem. A paramount emphasis on ethical and conservation-oriented photography is maintained to ensure minimal environmental impact. This event serves a dual purpose by fostering an appreciation for and awareness of the significance of tropical forests, while concurrently enhancing photography skills and crafting compelling visual narratives that underscore the importance of this ecosystem.

The program witnessed the participation of seven secondary schools in Dungun, specifically SMK Paka, SMK Tengku Intan Zaharah, SMK Kompleks Rantau Abang, SMK Balai Besar, SM Sains Dungun, SMK Seri Dungun, and SMK Sultan Omar. A contingent of 30 students, accompanied by seven teaching staff, five individuals from the education office, seven representatives from the Forestry Department, four members from Wikimedia Malaysia, have actively participated in the program. During the course of the event, students, teachers, and Forestry Department personnel were provided with comprehensive insights into the core Wikimedia projects, encompassing topics such as Wikimedia Commons, its licensing, and the methodologies for content uploading, all diligently conveyed by our committed volunteers.

Picture: Taufik Rosman give an introduction speech to the participants

The program commenced with an opening address delivered by Taufik Rosman. During this segment, he provided an overview of our organization, elucidating its activities, mission, and vision, in addition to shedding light on Wikimedia Projects and the imperative role of Wikimedia Commons and open-access media in education for the benefit of the community. He also underscored the issue of copyright infringement, exemplifying instances of copyright violations discovered within educational materials used by students in Malaysia.

Picture: Mr. Abu Bakar Rapaee from District Forest Officer of South Terengganu briefing on Chemerong Tropical Forest

Subsequently, the proceedings advanced with a discourse delivered by Mr. Abu Bakar Rapaee, the District Forest Officer of South Terengganu. He furnished insights into the historical context of the Chemerong Forest and expounded on the wealth of resources harbored within the forests of Terengganu. The program was formally inaugurated by Mr. Yusma@Abdul Mubin, the Education Officer of Dungun District, marking the official commencement of the event.

In response to feedback gathered concerning the question, “Were you acquainted with Wikimedia Commons and its mission before enrolling in the program?” the results indicated that 53.3% of participants had not previously been familiar with Wikimedia Commons, while 26.7% were moderately acquainted, and 20% reported prior awareness of its mission.

Furthermore, all program respondents, accounting for a unanimous 100%, concurred that their participation in the photowalk program substantially enhanced their comprehension of Wikimedia Commons and its pivotal role in disseminating knowledge.

Additionally, a notable subset of participants expressed a burgeoning interest in delving into diverse subject matter subsequent to their involvement in the program, encompassing cultural arts, geography, cultural heritage (e.g., traditional games and attire), among others.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the dedicated volunteers, co-organizers, and the students who participated alongside their educators in this event. It is our aspiration that similar initiatives of this nature may be implemented again in the foreseeable future to enrich Wikimedia project for freedom of knowledge.

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