Bicycle Workshops in Portugal!

At the secondary school of Gafanha da Nazaré there is a bicycle workshop!

This Eco-School is located in Gafanha da Nazaré, one of the cities of Portugal where the bicycle is most used in daily journeys home-work and home-school. According to the national standards the school is the one where more students and school staff use this type of transport on a daily basis.

 
 

In the bicycle parking lot there are about 350 bicycles daily (about 50% of the students). With such number of bicycle users it was necessary to find a way to repair their bikes by themselves! And so the project GafeBikeLab came up, which has the support of the City Hall of Ílhavo and in close collaboration with the University of Aveiro, through its Technology Platform for Bicycle and Soft Mobility. The project also found the support of some local companies and several partners of the local educational community.

The GafeBikeLab projet engages a group of 10 students aged 13 to 17, working there almost daily. They are coached and coordinated by a senior teacher, where they often carry out small free repairs on bicycles. In the remaining time they build bikes from used materials that are offered by different people in the community. This project has been successful to engage students with bikes and their benefits.

In 2019, several bicycles were built and all of them have been offered to students in need, so they can use it to go to school. Some have also been offered to the City Hall so that employees can run errands around the city by bike. The GafeBikeLab also aims to support School of Gafanha da Nazaré to educate students, both in terms of formal and informal skills. Students are able to develop projects and activities that involve other community agents, schools, and other institutions in the region. The activities are developed with the collaboration of teachers of various subjects and are scheduled and integrated in the school annual activities plan defined together with the students.

The central theme assumed by the GAFe BikeLab is "safely using bicycles" and therefore several activities are promoted both in school and in the community to raise awareness. Students participate in various bike talks with selected audiences and bicycle showrooms which are held in different spaces in school.

Car-Free Day in Budapest!

The Budapest British International School (BBIS) is proud of all the children and their families who left their car at home on the first BBIS No Car Day.

Children came to school by bus, tram, metro, scooter, bike and shared rides using electric cars. Streets were free of traffic and the children arrived at school energised and knowing they are doing their bit for the air in Budapest. The Eco Committee at BBIS Committee decided this needs to be a regular monthly event in BBIS! The Committee children will keep the school community posted in the newsletter and on the new Eco-News display. The Eco-Committee are going to help inform the children, parents and community of BBIS.

 
 

It's Time to Care!

In Czech Republic, our Eco-School ZŠ PŘEROV, TRÁVNÍK participates in the project ‘It’s Time To Care! (ITTC)’, along with schools from Germany, Malta, Portugal, Finland and Latvia. Students participating in the project work together on the themes of water, energy, sustainable living, climate change, consumption and biodiversity, using the gained knowledge, skills, competences and data to engage in environmental learning and teaching.

In preparation for every project meeting, schools analyse the topics they are working with, look for information, process data, evaluate them, try to find a solution to a problem and prepare presentation about it. Schools organise webinars to tackle the issues and tasks, discuss the matters and look for possible suggestions, meet specialists, have educational outings and take part in seminars and lectures focused on the respective topic. During the work on the tasks, all partners use research education methods based on STEAM principles as well as ICT and modern measurement systems. Then each partner makes their own experiments based on the respective topic, makes lesson plans and shoots a short video!

Schools create a bank of e-Methodologies, e-Manuals and e-Videos where those interested can find inspiration for their teaching. The project partner schools cooperate with school communities, local/regional entrepreneurs, companies, town representatives, students - future teachers and experts who are asked to comment work and give their advice.

Even though we have been working intensively and with enthusiasm the projects and have been trying to involve and convince as many people as we could, we feel it is still not enough. Many people agree with the ideas but on the other hand they do not want to respect rules and thus limit themselves.

Each of us can improve living conditions of all people. The SDGs lead us to be responsible people living on the Earth and show consideration for other people and ecosystems and support climate-change measures on which our future lives depend. That is why it is so important that people all over the world know these goals, understand them and engage in achieving of them. The most important thing is not to be afraid to take the first step!

Dagmar Bouchalová

The themes

The aim of ITTC is to give support to students’ education in science and technology, become aware about responsibility of everybody for environmental protection and to enable cooperation among European Eco-Schools. The Seven-Step methodology of the Eco-Schools programme is used and ITTC follows principles of the European 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): more cooperation, thinking more about other people and respecting the environment. The key challenges the project focuses on are:

  • Water - Availability of drinking water, its quantity and quality, life in water

  • Energy - Approach to affordably priced, secure, sustainable and modern power sources

  • Sustainable towns – availability of quality and safe living and of essential services

  • Sustainable society – responsible consumption and production, industry, innovation and infrastructure

  • Climate changes – struggle with climate changes

  • Sustainable use of land, life on land, land management and biodiversity decrease.

 
 

Outputs

  • More than 1,500 students from partner schools have taken part in the first year of cooperation!

  • Designed the project website, school websites, their space on the eTwinning platform, and school info-corners for the public

  • Designed and had six ITTC banners and six photo-banners made

  • Organised meetings with experts and specialists from other educational levels, secondary and university students, local/regional companies, town representatives and asked them for cooperation. At least one expert from each partner school has taken part in respective topics discussions

  • Presented three topic methodologies, manuals, video shootings from three topics covered, i.e. sustainable water, sustainable energy and sustainable town

  • Organised project meetings so far, in the Czech Republic, Latvia and Bulgaria

  • Organised seminars and educational lectures for teachers and students

  • Organised partner webinars and a videoconference via eTwinning

  • Carried out 4 evaluative questionnaires (entry and after each meeting) as instruments for assessing the work done

  • Organised open-days, project days and Eco-conferences

Outcomes

Students and teachers have chance under the ITTC umbrella to improve their working skills through experiments, measurements and data evaluation. They can improve their communication skills while working on topics within their own school and later while working on topics with their foreign friends as well as their problem-solving skills when looking for suggestions and ideas to find out answers and solutions for their partners´ tasks and collaborative learning. They both can improve their language learning strategies and increase their awareness of sustainable development and form habits and influence others, as well. Students during the meetings stay at host families so they have a great chance to get to know their culture, history and family lives as well as improve their language skills.

Teachers can improve their knowledge on covered areas, develop and improve their professional skills and qualifications with the aim to increase the effectiveness of teaching and school development in teaching Science, Maths, ICT or languages. They have chance to meet students – future teachers from foreign countries as well and share their experience.

Both students and teachers are involved in STEAM concept while working on project tasks which encourages teaching of Science and Technology, supports research-teaching style, verifies students’ pre-concepts while using modern measurement systems. Another aspect of the ITTC project is providing a wide variety of activities with the aim to increase students’ motivation in studying natural science and technical branches together with using of modern technologies in accordance with natural resources prevention and sustainable development of society of the 21st century.

  • Story provided by Eva Vincenová

Increased student awareness of Climate Change through Green STEM initiative

Contact: Nicole Andreou, International Eco-Schools Coordinator -  nicole@fee.global

Copenhagen, Denmark (7 October 2019) – Through the Alcoa W5  programme supported by  Alcoa Foundation and delivered through the Eco-Schools programme, student climate change awareness levels have increased by 30% and participating students now feel confident about their knowledge on the issue.   Green STEM – looking at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math disciplines through an environmental lens – provides students with opportunities to work with real-world sustainability issues where their learnings help solve real problems by thinking critically and working together.

In the program’s third year, students from twenty-five schools are participating in hands-on actions around the themes of Waste, Water, Energy (Watts), Climate Change (Warming) and Biodiversity (Wildlife).  Eco-Schools national teams of the National Wildlife Federation in the USA, FEE Norway in Norway, and Keep Australia Beautiful in Australia provide teacher training, develop resources, and support Alcoa volunteer opportunities.

Daniel Schaffer, FEE CEO, said,

“With Alcoa Foundation’s support through this project we have been able to provide a positive action-based approach that has resulted in incredible student achievements at the community level – from increasing schools’ handprint to addressing local government about recycling management on equal footing. This project provides experiences that empower young people with skills to be active citizens who can better address the most pressing issues of our time”.

The Alcoa W5 project has led to increased biodiversity on the school grounds, energy efficiency and energy-saving initiatives, improved waste management systems and increased engagement in school communities and local governments in sustainability initiatives. Impact assessment from the last cycle of the project in 2017-2018, highlights that there has been a 58% increase of participating teachers having a better understanding of Green STEM by the end of the project cycle, which allows them to start or consistently incorporate Green STEM learning opportunities in the classroom – a remarkable achievement of the project. Learn more about the Alcoa W5 project at https://www.ecoschools.global/alcoaw5

“Eco-Schools allows students in multiple Alcoa communities around the world to learn about the important issues surrounding our environment through a unique STEM framework,”

said Alice Truscott, Senior Program Officer for Alcoa Foundation.

“Alcoa Foundation truly believes the future of sustainability relies on the education of tomorrow’s leaders, and that is one of the many reasons why we invest in this important program.”

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About The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and Eco-Schools

With members in 77 countries, FEE is the world’s largest environmental education organisation. Through five ground breaking programmes FEE helps communities realise the benefits of sustainable living. Recognised by UNESCO as a world leader within the fields of Environmental Education (EE) and Education for Sustainable Development.

Eco-Schools is the largest sustainable schools programme, providing a framework for Quality Education through experiential learning, sustainability leadership and the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills. It reaches 19 million students and 1.3 teachers in over 52.000 schools in 68 countries globally.

In 2019, the Eco-Schools programme is celebrating its 25th year of engaging young people in taking positive actions that transform them for life. The programme aims to provide every child with the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future by integrating priority sustainable development issues and learning.

Website: http://www.ecoschools.global

Instagram/Twitter: @EcoSchoolsInt 

About the Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation’s predecessor, currently known as Legacy Alcoa Foundation (and formerly known as Alcoa Foundation), was founded in 1952 as one of the few endowed corporate foundations in the United States. As a result of the separation of Alcoa Inc. into Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in November 2016, two new foundations were formed, into which the assets of Legacy Alcoa Foundation were transferred. One of the newly formed foundations, known now as Alcoa Foundation, is the foundation associated with Alcoa Corporation. Today, Alcoa Foundation invests where Alcoa Corporation has a presence, providing grants that contribute to environmental excellence around the world, particularly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and climate change research. Learn more at alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

Website: http://www.alcoafoundation.com

Twitter: @AlcoaFoundation

Litter Less Campaign: The longest-running school campaign on litter continues

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PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Gosia Luszczek, International YRE Director
Foundation for Environmental Education
E:
gosia@fee.global


Over 3 million students from more than 5000 schools across the world have participated in the Litter Less Campaign the past 8 years. The campaign has helped not only students, but also their teachers, parents, and local communities address the issue of litter and waste.

The Litter Less Campaign, which was launched in 2011, has just entered its fourth phase and will be implemented in 15 countries until 2021. The campaign is a joint initiative between Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and Mars Wrigley Foundation which educates children and youth on the issue of litter and gives them the opportunity to engage their local communities in awareness raising activities.  

“Providing students an opportunity to learn about the challenges of litter and waste in their community and empowering them to become leaders through the development of meaningful solutions drives sustainable, positive behavior change. The Mars Wrigley Foundation is proud to have supported millions of students around the world through the Litter Less Campaign,” says Anne Vela-Wagner, Executive Director of the Mars Wrigley Foundation.

Through the Eco-Schools and Young Reporters for the Environment programmes, students will carry out litter action plans and media campaigns which aim to tackle specific litter and waste issues. These issues will be carefully selected by the schools together with their National Operators in order to achieve the biggest and most relevant impact in their local communities.

“FEE is privileged for the funding and cooperation it has been granted by the Mars Wrigley Foundation since 2011. The funding of these two extra years are a testament to the impact we have had with the campaign to date. Litter is a form of a pollution that continues to increase as a serious global threat. The situation our oceans are facing due to plastic and micro plastic pollution are a sad example of this. Hence we believe this fourth phase is essential for our on-going efforts in educating and changing the behaviour of children, youth and adults around the world,” says Daniel Schaffer, CEO of Foundation for Environmental Education.

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A campaign with a clear impact

Based on research conducted the past two years, the Litter Less Campaign has a clear positive impact on students’ knowledge, attitude and opinion leadership with respect to litter and waste management. The data shows that students who participate in the campaign know more about waste management, conserve more resources and are less likely to litter compared with students who do not participate in the campaign.

“The campaign highlight is always the enthusiasm of the children to make a difference and be given a platform to use their pupil voice concerning issues that affect them. Because of the raised awareness of Litter and its impacts around the world, especially to our oceans and wildlife, pupils have had a real purpose in their actions and messages to their school and community,” says Julie Giles, National Operator, Wales.

About the Foundation for Environmental Education

Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is the world's largest environmental education organisation with members in 77 countries. Through five ground-breaking programmes, FEE empowers people to take meaningful and purposeful action to help create a more sustainable world.

About the Mars Wrigley Foundation

The Mars Wrigley Foundation partners with organizations around the world to help people and communities flourish. Founded in 1987, the Foundation works to provide oral health education and care, improve lives in mint- and cocoa-growing regions, prevent litter and waste, and create vibrant communities.

Countries implementing the Litter Less Campaign 2019-2021

Australia, Brazil, China, England, France, India, Ireland, Kenya, Malta, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Spain and Wales

Regional Award on Renewable energy goes to Malagasy school

Lycée Andrianampoinimerina Sabotsy Namehana in Madagascar received the Regional Award on Renewable and Efficiency Energy project!

The IOC and the Eco-Schools Network have a significant number of joint achievements in the development of educational activities, notably through the ISLANDS project. Based on these experiences, and considering the importance of the network, which brings together more than 250 schools in the five IOC Member States, the ENERGIES Programme and Indian Ocean Eco-Schools have expressed their interest in renewing their collaboration in order to better promote renewable energy among young people and put their roles in our communities of the future into perspective.

Each participating school was invited to form a team of students who were challenged to imagine a renewable energy installation project that can be useful to the school and by extension, to the entire community. The teams completed a presentation document in order to develop as much as possible their autonomy and their ability to defend their idea. This document should presented the concept, the ins and outs, the added value for the school, etc. Schools submitted their projects to the national committees, which evaluated them and chose the winning team for their country.

  • 21 secondary Eco-Schools in Madagascar participated to the renewable energy  teacher training;

  • 16 renewable energy projects were received and evaluated by the Eco-Schools national committee and the TELMA Foundation as a sponsor;

  • The public secondary school : Lycée Andrianampoinimerina Sabotsy Namehana was selected and received the national award. Two students who acted as the project designers and 1 teacher-coach from the high school went to Mauritius on 28th August to 30th August to defend their project with the students from Mauritius, Comoros and Seychelles

The Malagasy school’s energy project received the Regional Award for the best project!

This activity provided teachers with fun and comprehensive educational material that will enabled discussion on the energy theme and enabled students to understand the challenges of renewable energy and energy efficiency. It enriched their scientific knowledge by positioning them at the heart of learning through materials that allowed everyone to take part and be involved.


SCHOOL4CITY - Education on Sustainable Cities

The School4City project, a partnership between Bureau for Education Services and EXPEDITIO - Center for Sustainable Spatial Development (NGO), Montenegro and JAS - Jugend Architektur Stadt e.V., Germany (NGO) aimed at build teachers’ capacity on Education for Sustainable Development.

This activity began in September 2016, with practical activities in the pilot school in the southern part of Montenegro, where High School Kotor has been selected as a pilot school. 
The idea was to work with students practically in order to acquaint them with the basic ideas and principles of sustainable cities and places, the problems of urban areas and the possible ways of improving the quality of life. For example, during the workshops students acquired knowledge and skills of how to design a project for improving their own places of living, evaluate a space around them, create imaginary buildings, co-design their school yard etc.

Students were encouraged to propose creative ideas which promote some of trans-disciplinary topics, such as, green cities, green roofs and facades, solar panels, renewable energy sources, landscape protection, preserving agricultural land, mobility and networking, smart houses, new building trends, etc., and some of these ideas were implemented jointly with their teachers, local artists and creative actors. The workshop was held with a group of second grade students at High School Kotor that are interested in improving the environment in which they live. During the workshop, assisted by the teachers all students in second grade were encouraging to recognize the challenges they perceive as important for improving the quality of their life in school and in their immediate surroundings. Some possible interventions were also considered that could contribute to making the school a better and more creative place for students.

During the project, the following activities took place:

  • Development of guidelines through conducting a survey about the level of knowledge, understanding and application of good practices in the field of sustainable cities education in Montenegro and Germany

  • Analyses of the current school curricula in Montenegro (Analysis has been completed for all three levels of education. A connection has been established between the cross-curricular topic Evaluation and Planning of Space and all school subjects.)

  • Questionnaires in pilot schools and kindergartens (A questionnaire has been created, distributed to schools and completed by teachers and students.)

  • Development of set of guidelines for improving the overall quality of education about sustainable cities in Montenegrin schools and kindergartens has been designed starting from the results of the analysis of questionnaires and analyses of the current school curricula

  • Development of guidelines through conducting a survey about the level of knowledge, understanding and application of good practices in the field of sustainable cities education in Montenegro and Germany

The overall objective of the training is to enable teachers to implement a cross-curricular theme Evaluation and Planning of Space – Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods. Specific objectives of the training are to improve the knowledge about space as a resource, evaluation and planning of space in terms of its sustainable development and the impact of human activity on space in relation to economic challenges and climate changes; about efficient location, organizing and combining of different types of settlements and human activities; about different types and styles of art; to increase the understanding about characteristics and principles of sustainable cities and neighborhoods (energy, waste, water, transport, green infrastructure, public spaces); about urbanization around the world, its benefits and problems, about values of well-designed buildings and spaces; to raise awareness of the impact (positive and negative) of entrepreneurship in the local community; of the importance of well-designed built environment for healthy local entrepreneurship.

OUTCOMES

  • Improved level of understanding and ability to apply sustainable cities concept among the teachers and children/students in kindergartens, primary and high-schools in Montenegro;

  • Increased capacities of educators in Montenegro to better integrate the urban sustainability principles into their primary subjects;

  • Enhanced collaboration between Montenegrin and German stakeholders dealing with education about sustainable cities.

Learners were able to analyse climate change linkages with sustainable development (environmental, economic, socio-cultural context), explain the importance of long-term planning of resources use, energy efficiency in industry, construction sector, public sector and transport, use of renewable energy sources, clean technologies introduction and the like, analyze diverse methods/approaches to climate change mitigation, recognize risks related to climate change using specific examples in their local community and country, know about the relation of environment pollution and food quality, know the importance of food safety for human health, understand forest role in ecosystem, know the ways pollution affects forests, know about the concept of energy efficiency, understand the necessity of transitioning to renewable sources of energy, understand that sustainable energy system implies changes in generation, distribution and use of energy, understand that economic crisis reduce the opportunities of poor societies to use new technologies, identify main differences between sustainable and unsustainable tourism development, explain what waste is, how it is generated and where it ends up, give the advantages and disadvantages of incineration and recycling, explain the importance of waste as resource, present ways for reduction of quantity of waste, suggest proper attitude towards waste disposal and use of waste and propose solutions to environmental issues.

Teaching for 2030: Innovations in Teacher Education towards Education for Sustainable Development

Teaching for 2030: Multi-layering ESD and GCED for Innovations in Teacher Education towards the SDGs and ESD for 2030.

The conference organised by the UNESCO Chair in Research and Education for Sustainable Development at Okayama University, Japan and the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability at York University, Canada, will bring together ESD and GCED experts with policy makers, teacher educators and other practitioners in education.

It will explore, discuss, and develop locally relevant strategies to systemically implement Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED) as called for in Sustainable Development Goal 4.7, the Global Education 2030 Agenda and other UN policies that our nations have agreed to carry out between 2020 and 2030.  The conference will be the first global meeting to recognize the goals and the designated framework entitled ‘Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs (ESD for 2030)’ being launched in June 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

The conference will focus on the role of embedding ESD and GCED within formal education systems, seeking existing successful practices and identifying their potential for policy reform and other education legislations. Special interest groups will focus on aspects such as:

  • Embedding ESD and GCED in elementary and secondary education,

  • Online teaching approaches engaging and accessing those in remote or underserved regions,

  • ESD as a potential to enhance education and training systems for Indigenous youth,

  • ESD and GCED in early childhood care and education.

 The conference invites participants to submit research reports, best practice examples and ideas for poster sessions. All papers shall relate to teacher education for ESD and/or GCED. To submit a paper please send an inquiry suggesting the topic/type of your presentation including your full name, position/title, institution/organization, and contact information to the conference organizing committee by 15th September 2019:

Dr. Hiroko Shibakawa hirokoshibakawa@okayama-u.ac.jp

Ms. Itsuko Hagihara hagiwara-i@okayama-u.ac.jp

For further information on the call for papers and free registration, please see the flyer or visit http://unescochair.info.yorku.ca/conference/.

Turn Waste into Art!

At the beginning of 2018, when TED Ankara College Foundation Kindergarten was developing their Action Plan, the Eco Committee talked a lot about the sustainability of materials, reusing and up-cycling. They shared ideas about how to save energy and materials to promote sustainability. They brainstormed to list ideas about the things they could do and one of the main activities they wanted to focus on was creating artwork by using waste materials.

Students were asked to collect some waste materials at home, turn them into art and share their ideas with the middle school students. This gave them the opportunity to understand the materials and their importance, be able to separate them in terms of their composition, as well as how they can be re-purposed. The activity was brought into the classroom - into the English, Science and Art classes, where students had the opportunity to learn about these materials. The entire school community of 434 students, 69 teachers and other staff took part in this activity in the classroom, outside, and using their own capacity to support the Eco Committee.

“As a Kindergarten, we are some of the early implementers of the Eco-Schools program for very young learners aged 4, 5 and 6 years old. We are very happy to provide a wide variety of hands on activities specifically in the science and discovery room as well as introducing Eco-Schools projects to very young learners.”

Kindergarten Head of English Departmant Özge GÜNEL

The teachers and school worked to increase the knowledge of responsible consumption and importance of recycling and reusing the waste materials. The students have learnt how to protect the life forms and how pollution threatens biodiversity. With the help of their families, they have been encouraged to use waste materials, learnt to be responsible consumers and experienced the importance of recycling and reusing. Through the collaboration with TED Ankara College Middle School students, they have been able to share their common goals and ideas through an exhibition of their artworks.

  • Activity duration: 1 week

  • Age groups: 4-6 years old

  • Themes covered:

Global warming and climate change, Responsible consumption , Creativity, Reusing, Upcycling and Recycling, Waste , Eco-friendly materials

  • Necessary resources:

Computer, presentations, photos and videos about the subject, glue, scissors, stapler and some waste materials like paper cups, plastic plates, nylon bags, unused boxes, waste paper.

  • Eco Code:

Nature Conscious Kids’ for a Sustainable Future!

Kenya and Ireland Eco-Schools team up to promote Climate Education

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Kenya Organisation for Environmental Education and An Taisce are partnering to promote the Climate Ambassadors Exchange Programme involving 11 Eco-schools in Kenya and 11 Green Schools in Ireland.


The initiative goal is to enhance exchange of knowledge and experiences around climate change, its impacts as well as cultural experiences exchanges and other issues across the schools in both countries. Each Eco-school in Kenya has been twinned with one Green School in Ireland who communicate online. The schools are exploring opportunities to raise funds to support and expand the activities.

As a part of the exchange, Eco-schools Kenya hosted Gary Tyrrell, Climate Action Officer and Climate Ambassador Volunteer from An Taisce Environmental Education Unit between 8th and 12th July 2019 who visited 5 schools.


The visit was so inspiring with schools showcasing a wide range of climate action initiatives they have put in place to promote adaptation and mitigation to climate change. The stay also provided Gary with the opportunity to donate money he had fund raised individually to some of the schools visited.

Great news from two distant but very close countries. Partnerships are key for sustainable development and this onwe betwenn Kenya and Ireland show ohw much we can learn one from the other.

As a famous proverb says “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.

Getting inspired by Eco-Schools Teachers

  • By Catarina Alves and Felipe Araya (MA Leadership for Sustainability, Malmö University)

What about the leaders of the future? That was the question we had when we started thinking about our master thesis’ topic.

While studying Leadership for Sustainability in Malmö University we learnt the definition of sustainable development given by the UN in the text Our Common Future, known as well as the Brundtland Report: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". That is a responsibility for every generation, current and future.

These reflections led us to the concept of Education for Sustainable Development, created by UNESCO, as a way to educate youth in sustainability, not only as a subject but also as a way of life, a way to understand the world and being respectful, empathetic and conscious. Therefore, the role of teachers came up. The most honourable, and maybe one of the most important professions.

We got to Eco-Schools through a friend, who was doing an internship in the Head Office in Copenhagen. She introduced us to the Senior Director of the programme and the International Coordinator who showed interest immediately. After some discussions, we decided to focus our research on how more connections and interactions among all the teachers engaged in Eco-Schools could support them. Beyond that, we also wanted to understand who are these souls raising awareness about sustainability, what inspires them, what keeps them strong and the connection of that with their involvement in the Eco-Schools programme.

To do that we interviewed ten Eco-Schools teachers from eight different countries and two Eco-Schools National Operators. We started with the simple question: What are your motivations for being engaged in the programme? All the interviewees gave the same two main reasons: personal and professional motivations. This showed us that Eco-Schools teachers are conscious people, people with a particular spirit, people with environmental and social awareness, worried and engaged with making the future better by taking concrete actions. It was especially interesting to find that although the teachers we interviewed did not know each other; they shared the same values, such as consciousness about environmental issues, commitment with their students and interest in building a better world. We were also able to conclude that their concerns inspired them to develop new pedagogical ways to transmit awareness and knowledge to their pupils, enhancing the efficiency of their job. "You want to take the school beyond certain levels", some of them said. Similarly, another said, "I want to teach a little bit more".

Further on we asked about the advantages and limitations of the programme, which helped us find out the barriers some of them have to face. Most mentioned lack of time, especially since most of them assumed the role of Eco-Schools coordinators in addition to their role as normal school teachers, spending their free time and weekends researching, preparing materials and guiding students to lead their Eco-Schools projects. One of them explicitly said, "(...) so you have to make arrangements to meet the students after school or on Saturdays". Some of the teachers interviewed also talked about the scarce support of some of the schools, particularly in the early stages of implementation, struggling with resources, spaces and permits to develop the projects. They mentioned the desire of giving up back in those days, but they did not since their convictions were stronger. Additionally, most interviewees brought up the lack of resources. For example, one of the teachers wanted to plant trees with students but did not have money to buy the seeds. Nevertheless, beyond the difficulties and obstacles, all of them were very grateful for the organisations running Eco-Schools for supporting and guiding them in the process. Some of the answers were "I'm happy because the programme is very good", "I can be connected to other subjects", "networking with other schools within the country and other countries" and also how being part of a network keeps their strengths to keep working or even engage new people. As one teacher said: "teachers get motivated by other teachers".

Our study also showed us that the commitment of highly motivated Eco-Schools teachers makes them go beyond their professional responsibilities: "I do research a lot on what other schools are doing, not only across the country but across the world", one of them commented. They put a lot of effort and time in finding the best resources and innovative ideas seeking for the best resources.

They are active leaders in their communities. They assume the challenging role of engaging their colleagues not only in the projects but also in the inclusion of sustainability in their subjects. As Eco-Schools intends, the whole community around the schools should be involved, including families and neighbours, which adds not only a huge responsibility to their function, but also the need to empower themselves to connect and engage them all, and give the tools to their students to lead the projects by raising "student awareness, (...) their ability to think outside the box and be agents of change".

The research we conducted was focused on sources and needs for support and collaboration for implementing Eco-Schools projects and how collaboration between Eco-Schools teachers can be a key element to increase efficiency, but also strengthen the network. With that, we tried to understand how collaboration could address the mentioned difficulties and barriers. Our findings also reaffirmed the passion found, showing us the many ways they look for support and solutions. They mentioned the school committees first, which shows that engagement within the schools is the most relevant element. Then the National Operators were the second. Although they were always present in our conversations, the teachers counted on them all the time as a source of resources and support. The third group of support is composed of other Eco-Schools teachers. We found out that after national conferences or seminars, they exchange contacts, emails, Facebook accounts and cellphones and, afterwards, they create WhatsApp groups and other connections where they exchange ideas and information. Some of them also create inter-school projects, even with Eco-Schools from other countries, which promotes the development of social values like respect, empathy and communication abilities, connecting the experience not only with science or ethics classes but also with foreign languages and human development.

Going back to the initial question: What about the leaders of the future? Leaders of the future are students of today, and education plays a big role in shaping their future behaviours. That is why the role of teachers is so important. According to academic studies, we found, teachers have more impact on student learning than the curriculum. Teacher involvement in programmes like Eco-Schools gives them the tools and motivation to risk into new projects, even if many times they challenge the traditional ways of learning. This way these projects not only aim at teaching students how to be responsible and adopt sustainable behaviours but, because they use non-formal and informal methods, they are also developing the soft skills needed by leaders of the future, namely problem solving, system thinking and tolerance. It may seem for some that studying teacher motivation, teacher involvement in projects like Eco-Schools and collaboration between teachers is too far from studying leaders of the future. We could not disagree more. We need the best teachers to provide the right knowledge, with the best methods possible.

Like Jacques Delors, former president of the European Commission, said: “teachers are there to remind us, and especially the younger generations, of everything that mankind has learnt about itself”. This research, beyond the theoretical analysis and academic purposes, inspired us by discovering amazing people working hard for making the world a better place and overcoming difficulties because of their convictions. Eco-Schools teachers and all the people that work on the programme are a source of hope for the future, and Education for Sustainable Development should be a must for every single educational programme.

Zero Waste Campaign at Loreto College in Mauritius

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Ever since our school took up this path towards nurturing a greener school, a lot has happened from the launching of the EFS programme by SEDEC to the birth of our Loreto College Curepipe (LCC) Go Green Club, and now we are finally culminating towards the apex.

We are proud to say that in sticking close to our goals, we have been awarded the Green Flag Award for the second year in a row (2017 & 2018). However, our aim is not only to maintain this status but to imprint this will for a greener and healthier lifestyle into our students and staff likewise.

As Presidents of the club we will not slacken the club’s efforts into making our school a greener one. With dedication and hard work, we will walk into our previous club members’ steps to maintain our status as an Eco-School. We will always be aiming higher and higher because mitigating our negative impact on the planet will not stop until the whole human population is conscious of the consequences of her actions on the environment.

Quixotic Dendere & Shanelle Li Presidents

We started this year with a Zero Waste Campaign aimed at reducing our waste as much as possible. The zero waste concept is based on 5 rules, the 5R's which are as follows:

1. Refuse what you do not need

2. Reduce what you do need

3. Reuse - That is swapping anything that's disposable for a reusable alternative

4. Recycle

5. Rot/ Compost

These 5 rules are closely related to our Loreto College Curepipe Go Green goals and with the help of Mrs. Priya, we started this project to show our students that living with less is not necessarily that different.

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Hob’s Adventure - Hands-on Biodiversity. A learning (from nature)-by-doing project.

From Autumn 2018 to Autumn 2020, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia and Slovenia will be involved in the Hob’s Adventure - Hands-on Biodiversity project.

The participating teachers will collaborate to develop and share new methods to teach about biodiversity in a hands-on manner. The project aims to incorporate means that are available in all countries throughout the year such as potted plants, the flora in school yards and other signs of biodiversity in one’s immediate surrounding. The methods include the use of digital tools, to steer children clear of some of the negative effects stemming from the recent introduction of tablets, mobile phones and the internet into everyday life. The methods are also aimed to increase how physically active children can be during lessons and during breaks.’

Participants from all four countries with their unique challenges and solutions stand to gain from experience sharing and collaboration. Some of the participating countries face climate and environmental issues which make it challenging to teach about biodiversity. For example, Iceland and Estonia suffer from long winters which doesn’t allow you to take a group of children outside without preparation. The former has also suffered deforestation which has reduced its natural flora and fauna. Fortunately, this has led to the development of methods to overcome these difficulties that countries can share. The same goes for digital tools and physical activity. 
People often miss connections between their actions and the global picture. For example, a reason to focus on potted plants is to illustrate how our habits of purchasing cut flowers for decoration and potted plants from shops is leading to the destruction of rainforests in the tropics. The rainforests are cleared to make way for fields that satisfy our demand for these plants. By allowing children to learn about the reproduction of potted plants by themselves, we can explain and demonstrate both complex global issues and to show a way to solve them.

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These issues come up in various guises in our participant countries. For example, in Iceland, deforestation is fought by planting trees but there’s a lack of attention to the species selected. One would need to choose between native trees that fit into the ecosystem and foreign species that might yield greater wood output. Such choices are best made when information about the choices and the relevant values have been taught from a young age.

Hob’s Adventure aims to overcome challenges such as an overflow of information, alienation from nature, always online social interaction, lack of physical activity and many others. To find solutions to these problems and to combat related schoolchild depression, under-achievement and resulting elevated dropout rates, the project intends to motivate children to develop new skills and values for the modern world. These skills include the use of modern digital tools, hands-on learning to achieve an increase in outdoor and active learning periods for mostly sedentary children.

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The project targets 5-9 year-old children and their teachers. We want to create a network of educational experts and teachers that can generate new methods and ideas for integrating hands-on and digital learning into lessons. They aim to create innovative learning materials that instruct teachers how to tie practical learning activities in the classroom and outside with digital learning and movement. The goal is use the materials to direct children to learn skills that improve their academic achievements, increase their interest in nature and the environment and teach them social skills and digital competences relevant to their age.

The project will introduce children to the following topics through the overarching theme of the biodiversity of potted plants and outdoor environments: global citizenship, reasonable consumption of goods, diversity in nature, the needs of plants and animals, health and welfare. These stem from United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The lesson plans are developed by teachers from participating kindergartens and schools, with support from their institution and the coordinating non-profit organization from each country. All lesson plans are developed with and tested on children taught by these same teachers, in frequent collaboration with parents and other relevant actors such as local experts.

Funding for development, international cooperation and dissemination of the handbook has been generously provided by Erasmus+.

Happy 20th Eco-Schools anniversary, Finland!

20th anniversary celebrations in Tampere in May 2019 Photo: Maija Ihantola

20th anniversary celebrations in Tampere in May 2019
Photo: Maija Ihantola

20 years ago, in May 1999, the first three green flags were raised in Helsinki, Finland. Eco-Schools programme had started in Finland in Autumn 1998, four years after its launch in Europe. The idea for starting the programme had come from the neighbouring countries Sweden and Denmark, from where came also the name of the programme, “Vihreä lippu” in Finnish and “Grön Flagg” in Swedish, meaning “Green Flag”. The programme is still run bilingually, with the both national languages Finnish and Swedish.

During the first year, the program started as a pilot in Eastern Helsinki, where 4 schools and 2 kindergartens joined it - half of them getting a green flag after the first year. However, thanks to good press coverage and enormous interest among environmental education -minded teachers, the programme started spreading fast. After one year, in Spring 2000, already 80 schools and kindergartens from many parts of Finland had joined the programme, and 36 received the flag!

These days, in 2019, there are around 300 schools and kindergartens involved in the programme in Finland, with around 270 of them having the green flag. Among these is also still one of the original participants, kindergarten Päiväkoti Neulanen, that has been on the Eco-Schools journey for the whole 20 years. From the very beginning kindergartens (ages 1-6) have been a big part of the programme, nowadays forming 45% of the participant!

Päiväkoti Neulanen raises one of Finland’s three first Green Flags in May 1999. Photo: Newspaper archive picture

Päiväkoti Neulanen raises one of Finland’s three first Green Flags in May 1999.
Photo: Newspaper archive picture

Back in 1998, when Päiväkoti Neulanen joined the programme, they had no previous experience of environmental education. However, during the 20 years in the programme, environmental education has become a core value of their educational work- “Our whole staff is very engaged in, and proud of the Green Flag, and environmental education is deep in our values and everyday activities” say early education teachers Karoliina Silander and Kira-Mia Tuisku, who nowadays take charge of running the program there. However, it is the work of their predecessors and long-time colleagues, that should be given the biggest credit – “Thanks to them, many good ideas and activities have continued to live on throughout the years, and it has been easy for new employees to get in the Eco-Schools work”.

Picture:    Kindergraten Neulanen celebrating their 20 years of holding the Green Flag in Spring 2019.  Photo: Aino Häyrynen

Picture: Kindergraten Neulanen celebrating their 20 years of holding the Green Flag in Spring 2019.
Photo: Aino Häyrynen

A funny side story:

Päiväkoti Neulanen won the Finnish national prize in the Environment & Innovation contest 2009 organized by the international Eco-Schools programme. Their winning entry idea in the energy-saving innovation contest was a free-standing drying rack for wet outdoor gloves, integrated to a radiator.

The innovation didn’t get much international fame, because the international jury of the competition didn’t understand its purpose at all: “why would any school need to dry wet gloves on a daily basis?” Little did they know, that in Finland the kids spend time outdoors every day, whatever the weather – and therefore such a drying rack could save a lot of energy by removing the need for a separate drying cabinet

Birthday cake! Photo: Iitu Kiminki

Birthday cake! Photo: Iitu Kiminki

This May, the 20th anniversary of Eco-Schools in Finland was celebrated in three regional birthday parties and award ceremonies on different sides of the country. Over 600 eco-committee members from schools and kindergartens joined the happy celebrations. Hooray, Eco-Schools 20 years in Finland!

Drinkable Air Technologies in Kenya: cleaner and safer water for students.

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In February, 2019, Drinkable Air Technologies (DAT) was informed by its local Kenyan distributor, Africa Trade Corporatsion (ATC) that ATC was accepted as a demonstration for the UN Environment Conference in Nairobi from March 11-15, 2019. In consultation with DAT, ATC indicated they intended to find a CSR target where they could place a demonstration to obtain some objective and subjective data surrounding such a placement for sharing at the conference. David N. Wandabi - Programs Officer, Eco-schools Programme, Kenya Organization for Environmental Education then introduced ATC to St. Mary’s Primary School in Machakos County.

St. Mary’s has 400 students and staff and has a real need for potable water. ATC delivered a C8 unit to the site. The unit was connected to power alone overnight to bring produce water. The unit produces about 400 L of water a day in appropriate climate conditions like Machakos which would be more than adequate for a school of this size.

“Apart from the information gathered by the team on the impact of the unit to the school, we have also had further conversation with the school head teacher on the same. She was full of praise of the unit.” says Mr. Wanabi. “The school normally solely depended on rain water to provide water for drinking. This however has been an unsustainable technology as the school is an arid area which gets very little rain in a year. Most of the time pupils are asked to carry water from home for drinking which is cumbersome and the cleanliness of the water safety is not guaranteed. The head teacher points out that since the unit was installed; children have been happy as they have not been required to carry water from home. The water has been reliable, cold and clean. The water has also been used by teachers. The school board of management and parents have also been full of praise for the unit as they no longer had to worry on helping their children get water for drinking to carry to school.”

The Ministry of Education has also noted that the technology can be of great help especially to other schools in arid and semi-arid areas like Machakos County.

“It is certainly an exciting time for us as the Eco-schools National Operators in Kenya, to be pioneering such an innovative technology as Drinkable Air” says Dr. Dorcas Beryl Otieno, Executive Director of Kenya Organisation for Environmental Education (KOEE). “From the feedback we have had so far from St Mary's School, it has been life-changing for the students and the school as a whole.”

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 Pollinators are life! Build Eco bridges and help protect them

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At Vienna International School (VIS) the project "Building Eco-Bridges" is aiming to support the biodiversity near school.

Due to the fact that urban pollinators are in decline, it is a first step to develop a small area at school to support urban pollinators and engage with neighbor schools to develop "Eco Bridges" in support of the living organisms near schools.

The idea is that each school that participate will plant or develop a small pollinator garden patch at school. The aim is to protect biodiversity and support local urban pollinators. Plants should be local to the area and preferably perennials. Once the patch is settled, the second step is to identify the pollinators that visit the plants, and develop a chart that could be shared among students of the same school or in the same location, promoting the development of patches for pollinators in any home of the students. Monitoring of the patches at VIS have provided evidence that diverse pollinators, mainly insects are provided with nectar.

In this project, at VIS around 45 students are directly involved. As the new schools are joining, the numbers will be increasing, but are not jet recorded. However, an estimate number of 200 students is expected. An important output of the project at VIS has been the understanding of pollinators and their relationship with food crops has been a driving force to support them.

Students have learn the relationship between soil-water-pollinators and food production. They are aware of the need to protect them. Students find this to be an action they can implement even at home, they develop investigation skills, learn to create correlations between topics and the impacts one action may have on another thing. They learn to find cycles in nature that are relevant, like the role of decomposers in soil production, the water cycle and effect of pollution, and the requirements for food production.

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Chadwick International is the first school in South Korea to be awarded the Green Flag

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Mark Potter, Sustainability Committee co-chair: “Four years ago, Chadwick International launched its first ever sustainability committee, pioneered by former teacher, Mr. Chris Brodie. Over the past 4 years the sustainability committee, which is comprised of faculty, staff, students, parents, as well as the partnerships we have formed with companies such as Our Home and TerraCycle, have worked together to take action to make our school healthier and more sustainable. We are thankful that the sustainability committee continues to be comprised of all the key players needed to turn ideas into realities. The support that is given to this committee by administrators at CI, by teachers, staff, CIPA, and students, as well as our community partnerships is tremendous, and greatly appreciated, and it ensures that we continue to be able to turn our ideas into authentic actions.

Last year, the decision was made to join Eco Schools, to ensure that we empower our students to have a voice, and to provide them with opportunities to take meaningful, authentic action. Eco-Schools is a global programme engaging 19.5 million students across 67 countries and for nearly 25 years has been empowering children to drive change and improve their environmental awareness. We are delighted that Chadwick International is part of the Eco Schools programme, and we are honored to have recently been awarded the highly-coveted Eco-Schools green flag. This award makes CI the first school in South Korea to be awarded a green flag, and we now join just a handful of other international schools around the world to have been awarded one. Although we recognize that we still have progress to make in many areas, we are pleased that our efforts have been internationally recognized and acknowledged, and we are excited to continue our sustainability journey by working on new sustainability projects, generated by our students, to ensure that we maintain our green flag status in the years to come.”

Chadwick International has ensured that all 12 of the Eco themes have been incorporated into our curriculum throughout Pre-K to Grade 12. This year they were particularly focused on reducing waste, supporting their own Eco Code of 'No Plastic is Fantastic' (decided after surveying the community) to raise awareness about the amount of single-use plastic used at school.

Mark Potter: “We have many projects that we are working on aimed at reducing our waste. Our recent successes have included:
- Using reusable bentos boxes for packed lunches on field trips
- Installing umbrella driers instead of having plastic covers for wet umbrellas
- Installing refillable water stations throughout the school reducing the need for paper cups and plastic water coolers
- Establishing a partnership with TerraCycle whereby we provide them with used toothbrushes, which TerraCycle recycle and turn into reusable bags and plant pots

In order to evaluate the outcomes of the programme we monitor the data provided on the refillable water stations that shows how many single-use plastic bottles we save by using refillable water bottles. We then displayed these data electronically through our digital screens located throughout the school. We also created a Sustainability newsletter that is shared with the school community which communicates our successes and future plans of what we are trying to achieve.”

Way to go Chadwick International and South Korea!

Construction of a water ecological learning field in Primary School in China

The Chinese primary school ‘Hengde’ had the brilliant idea of building a water ecological learning field to enable kids to learn about water conservation and ecology through games and other hands on activities.

Implementation of the project

Following the Eco-Schools Seven Steps, the project was implemented by an International Ecological Commission of pupils from grades 1st to 5th.

The water ecological learning field included a series of actions and activities: the installation of spray nozzle on taps to reduce water consumption, a drinking water recovery system and the re-built of the draining system. The latter is of particular importance, as it allowed the schools to have an irrigation mechanism for the small 1-square-meter farms installed in front of each class.

Through the creation of micro wetlands, pupils had fun, while learning about purification. In these wetlands 54 species of plants and 11 species of aquatic plants were planted, and 9 species of aquatic animals introduced, so as to create a food chain network and improve the biological purification effect.

Outcomes

This complex and creative project has contributed and is contributing to the increase of pupils’ awareness on the issues of excessive water consumption and water saving, while allowing them to learn new methods to save water, to get teamwork skills, and enhancing their consciousness of environmental issues in general. Thanks to it, kids can make water-saving devices in groups or independently, and most of them have a preliminary understanding of the principles of some water-saving devices.

Did you know that you can grow vegetables and fish at the same time?

Aquaponics is a farming method that allows you to grow vegetable and fish together. This system  is gaining momentum in the farming industry as an efficient and sustainable way to produce food, which consists of a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics that grows fish and plants together in a symbiotic environment. Hence why the Loreto College Curepipe from Mauritius has decided to experiment it and use it in an educational tool, involving more than 50 students aged 11-18 into the project.

The outcomes of the projects were numerous: students learnt valuable scientific concepts and gained practical technical knowledge, useful for their working future, they were confronted with sustainability issues, such as sustainable food production. Teachers also benefited from this activity, learning new hands-on teaching method and how to integrate global trends into their teaching activities.

This project does not only fit perfectly in the school curriculum, but also has a strong link with the SDGs. In fact, it encompasses sustainability concepts such as food scarcity, food security, social inclusion, decent standards of living, urban farming. The use of aquaponics as an educational tool, also helps the students learn valuable scientific concepts, linking it with SDG 4 (quality education).   

If you want to see how the school built is small aquaponics system, you can also watch their video:

Collaborative project on clean energy in Dubai!

Age group involved

11 to 13 years

Resources

  1. Old project materials

  2. Used cardboard

  3. Old toys

Electric vehicles appear more and more in numbers but insufficient charging stations are causing problems. How can you charge an electric vehicle in a way that it is environmentally friendly and easily accessible, asked Amay Mahajan ( Grade 7), Rushiil Kiran (Grade 8) and Simar Singh (Grade 8).

The group of students, after experimenting with a prototype of a wireless mobile charger in technology class, came up with the following ideas:

  • Wireless charging of cars. The group of students successfully imitated the coil method to excite the positive and negative charge of the energy coming from solar panels.

  • Placing of working solar panels on a miniature model of a road, with charging schemes and materials needed to support the weight of vehicles passing by.

  • A battery collector was attached to keep the project working during the night too.

The ‘Solar Road Electric Car Project’, supported by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and the Emirates Aviation University Dubai, aims to present a future plan for a clean source of energy to charge the battery of electric cars in Dubai. The feasibility study conducted by students and shows that a 20-minute driving in the solar road can charge the car’s battery by 30%  using a special wireless conduit and circuitry that can be installed in the electric car.

Outcomes

  • Collaboration

  • Critical thinking

  • Innovation