Nature India | Indigenus

Small schools greener

Looks like the greenest schools are in India’s suburbs. An annual environmental audit of schools by New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) says ‘the real action is not happening in the ‘elite’, big-budget, up-market schools.’ Rather, semi-urban and mid-rung institutions in small cities such as Panipat (Haryana) and Jalgaon (Maharashtra) are leading the green brigade.

CSE asks schools across India to carry out rigorous self-audit on environmental practices within their own premises. From among the 5,000 schools that participated this year, the 20 national toppers had nine from the semi-urban, mid-rung category. Six of the national-level winners are from Delhi. Interestingly, ‘elite’ schools joined the programme with great fanfare, but failed to carry it through.

Small schools showed commitment — discarded cars in favour of walking and cycling to commute, reused grey water to irrigate playfields and green areas, harvested rainwater, recycled solid wastes, turned their grounds into biodiversity hotspots planting large varieties of medicinal plants and used solar power to heat water, cook and light up streets.

The green campaign in ‘elite’ schools was found to be restricted to reating ‘eco clubs’ and campaigns with no long term commitment. The trend reflects a larger social behaviour — the lack of commitment of our big cities and urban citizens to make any path-breaking contribution towards this end. It would be a good thing to see small cities lead by example.


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    Anonymous said:

    Just like any virtue (e.g honesty) this environment consciousness need to be adequately remunerated and promoted all over. Otherwise this momentary glory will not take much time to fade away. Schools which showed long term commitment towards a greener environment should get some kind of prize in form of annual scholarships/fellowship to the teacher and students involved (without any partiality) or annual grant to expand its operations into local communities. We also should enact a system that allows us to differentiate the dedicated social or environmental work from the advertisement of social/environmental work as done by many famous, so-called “socialites / environmentalists” in big cities.

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    Anwesh Bhattacharya said:

    These eco-friendly initiatives should be taken up by schools and educational institutions without any want of monetary prizes or fame. These institutions should create a sense of eco-friendly work among their students so that those kids take up a socially committed initiative to start eco-friendly programmes in their neigbourhood and ultimately to the larger society. In this case, the students of elite schools do not have a strong social base (friends in their neigbourhood) whereas the students of cities in small schools have a wider social base and work for a greater social commitment. In that case, the government has to fund these schools by checking their progress for a long term and not by competitive programmes which only end up in schools running for money.

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    Kanchuki said:

    Why do we always expect schools and educational institutions to be different from the community in which they are set up? The commitment level of the school, its teachers and parents will reflect the community/area where the school is, perhaps they will be expected to make a bigger show of it. Its not surprising that urban schools are not committed to green environment, because neither are the citizens committed nor willing to make short-term sacrifices in material comfort.

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    Bart said:

    Kanchuki: Since schools are typically at the forefront of innovation, they have a responsibility to lead their geographical area in ways that help the community as a whole. It’s not right for them to simply pass the buck.