How Can Schools Do More to Educate the Next Generation

Ram Tumuluri – “How can schools do more to educate the next generation about being more eco conscious?

Let’s be honest. Our children are going to inherit the impact of climate change. As adults, they will have to live with, find solutions for and steer the world away from the worst effects of climate change.  They will have to be guardians of a world frequently troubled by fatal droughts, devastating floods, unbearable heat and inevitably, climate change related poverty.

How can schools help the world be more eco-focused? 

If Greta Thunberg and other child climate activists are anything to go by, children are deeply aware and concerned. They are eager to join the battle against time and climate change. It makes sense to let them lead the way in our quest to find innovative, viable solutions to change the terrifying status quo. But, how can schools facilitate children’s passionate desire to find solutions? These three schools in Asia are already ahead of the curve. The rest of the world can learn from their engagement to empower children to shape a better world for themselves and generations yet to be born.

We look at 3 schools in Asia who are leading the way in sustainability 

Bangkok Patana School – Walking the talk

This school envisions and works towards guiding the students to become global citizens who can think independently for themselves, be engaged, creative and empathetic. This vision falls in tune with the quest to improve global sustainability and take informed actions to mitigate climate change risk.

Students at Bangkok Patana School are well-aware that change must start at home (in this case their school and themselves).

After taking plastic water bottles off the snack bar shelves, the students advocated for fellow students and teachers to bring their own reusable bottles to school. This was just the beginning. They organize an annual trip to the beach to collect rubbish from the beach and reef to dispose of all the plastic and other waste in a responsible manner. The students came up with fresh ideas to organize their school recycling bins to raise awareness amongst themselves and adults around them.

But their biggest contribution is the project, ‘Cube Care’, which adopted a creative approach to find solutions to existing problems in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.   Cube Care revolves around taking care of isolated village communities and forest rangers. In 2019, Cube Care raised funds to build a sustainable and cost-effective filter to provide clean water to over 900 villagers in Baan Nam Phu Village in Kanchanaburi. This year they plan to raise funds for a defibrillator, blood-glucose testing machines and necessary medical tools for another remote village located in the Prachuap Khir Khan Province.

Jerudong International School (JIS) in Brunei – Making decisions 

Students at Jerudong International School (JIS) run an Environmental (Eco) Committee, which organizes various projects for both juniors and seniors. Since the children live and breathe close to one of the world’s oldest rainforests, near South China, they take the job of caring for the fragile ecosystem of the natural world seriously.

Each of the school’s 16 houses has appointed a House Eco Representative and Deputy Representative. These eco reps work with the committee to craft projects in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals and implement those projects.

The students put their brains and will together to design an ‘Outdoor Discovery Centre’ where they nurture herb spirals. This particular project won an award for its originality and impact. In addition, the Eco Committee helps interested students to set up Greene Businesses. These budding eco-conscious entrepreneurs get opportunities to pitch their ideas to judges. These are ambitious projects, but we need such drive and passion to allow children lead the way.

Australian International School – Singapore – Learning through real-life examples

The Australian International School’s educators rely on real life examples and endeavours to allow students to follow a sustainability curriculum. In classrooms teachers and students discuss innovative ways to take action to manage environmental impact.

But more importantly, they’ve formed a partnership with Sun Electric, one of the first energy companies to obtain a license from the Singaporean government for electricity retail. This partnership allowed the school to install roof solar panels to supply electricity to the city’s grid for the use of small-scale energy consumers. Students analyze the data to measure the impact of this project. After all, nothing beats hands on experience and real-life data.

These schools have taken different approaches to achieve a common goal. But, they all share one fundamental value, which is actively engaging students in the process. This perhaps is the way forward.

We need our children to ask the same questions that climate scientists are investigating, and hold the same debates. Our children need to analyze real data and come up with solutions on their own initiative. We adults can merely facilitate. After all, they have a right to take action to safeguard their own future.