A Coimbatore School Walks the Talk

  S. Uma Maheswari, Yogendra Anand |     September 5, 2022

Environment education does not advocate a particular viewpoint or course of action. Rather, it teaches individuals how to weigh various sides of an issue through critical thinking and enhances their problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Children can learn about the environment in many ways, and they should start this education at school. Experiential lessons in the school yard, field trips, green clubs, and school-wide sustainability projects can make environment an easily accessible and understandable topic.

Primary education is a crucial stage in the development of a person's behaviour, social awareness and selflessness. At school, we learn values and behaviours that stay with us throughout our adulthood and define who we are. That is what makes it so important to spark an interest in caring for and protecting the environment while children are still at school. The aim should be to make caring for nature part of children’s lives, as opposed to just studying it.

Environment education has other positive effects on young people. In 2017, Stanford University studied how this subject affects schoolchildren and found that 83 per cent of schoolchildren improved their ecological behaviour and 98 per cent scored better in other subjects such as maths and the sciences.

Keeping in line with these observations, our school has initiated a number of practices and measures towards building awareness about environment and its conservation.

  • We segregate waste into three categories—landfill waste, waste that can be recycled, and food waste for composting.
  • Children are encouraged to make compost pits at home.
  • They are encouraged to bring home-cooked food only that too in stainless steel tiffin boxes and metallic water bottles (not plastic ones).
  • Children are asked to eat healthy food; the school regularly observes ‘healthy eating week’, ‘national lunch week’, ‘vegetable day’, ‘fruits day,’ etc.
  • Students are motivated to donate their clothes, toys, and books to the library, from where these items reach disadvantaged children.
  • Management of food waste is an important area of work. Leftover and spilled food waste is collected from each class for making manure, using a mud pot digester. The natural fertiliser it produces is used in the school garden.
  • Class teachers have their lunch in the classrooms with the children to ensure that no food is wasted.
  • The subject of food waste is discussed in science and social science sessions.
  • Healthy food charts are shared with parents to make them aware.
  • The school puts special emphasis on reduction of paper waste. We ask the children to bring paper waste from their homes. It is weighed and then children are given stationary items—like, pencils, erasers, colours, notebooks, etc.—in return. All waste paper and cardboard is sent to a recycling centre, which gives back recycled notebooks. This year, to minimise paper use, we adopted a system of writing on slates—so we gave slates to all classes from KG to Grade V.
  • Our campus has been made litter-free and use of plastic items is strongly discouraged.
  • The campus uses solar energy. Our school takes care to build awareness on renewable energy and energy conservation through exhibitions, mime shows, skits, songs, debates, etc. We also celebrate occasions such as ‘Wind day’, ‘Earth day’, ‘Earth hour’, and ‘Energy Conservation day’.
  • Efforts are also made to change the mind-set of parents—they are asked to use cloth bags instead of plastic ones; replace plastic containers in their kitchens with containers made of other materials; and discard the use of single-use plastic items (crockery, etc.) during marriages and other social and community gatherings.

We strongly believe that ‘the environment is where we all meet, where we all have a mutual interest—it is the one thing all of us share…,’ and it is our responsibility to keep it safe and thriving. We hope that all these practices would result in our greater common good.

About the Author

She teaches Computer Science and Tamil to classes 3–5 at PSGR Krishnammal Nursery and Primary School, Coimbatore.

Illustrator, Art & Design, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi