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updated: Saturday, 18. April 2020 05:46:53 PM +0530

What is green school?

A green school is about more than curriculum

A green school is about more than curriculum, more than programming and more than bricks and mortar. It's a school that supports global sustainability in every way. A green school begins with the future in mind, designing a learning experience for students that will prepare them to lead the world toward a healthier, cleaner, more sustainable future.
The Whole School Sustainability framework describes what successful green schools have learned about how to make this sustainability thinking stick. It explains that, in these schools, the educational program, physical place and organizational culture all support sustainability, and that each aspect of the school does its important part in making the whole picture work.
The novelty of CSE's Green Schools Programme lies in the fact that it moves beyond theories and textbooks and concentrates solely on 'doing'. It is an environmental education programme directed to subtly sensitizing students to the environment through hands-on and thoughtprovoking activities. It is also an environment management system that audits, through students, the consumption of natural resources within school campuses and helps schools become good environmental managers by deploying pragmatic solutions to reduce wastage of precious resources.
The field of environment education is dogged by a very fundamental contradiction. While everyone, everywhere, asserts the importance of 'learning to live sustainably', environment remains a peripheral issue in the formal schooling system. It continues to be viewed more as an extracurricular activity and less as a subject with a priority position in the national curriculum. This is true not only in India but worldwide as well.Fortunately, it has not deterred many talented, creative and farsighted educators from experimenting and evolving extremely innovative teaching methods, materials and practices.
So, how do we know if it's working? This is where the three pillars of a green school come in. While the Whole School Sustainability framework describes what a green school looks like, the three pillars of a green school explain how to measure progress.

Three pillars

  • Reduced environmental impact
  • Increased health and well-being
  • Increased environmental and sustainability literacy for all

The measurable success metrics for green schools, and they make a real impact on both global sustainability and individual student and teacher health.:

Reducing environmental impact includes reducing energy and water use, cutting back on fossil fuel used in transportation, reducing waste headed to landfill and protecting natural habitats. These actions have an effect on humans and the Earth: We know that cutting energy usage in buildings reduces energy load on power plants, reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts of power generation.
We know that cutting water usage in buildings reduces aquifer depletion, protects freshwater habitats and reduces the energy used to treat and transport water
We know that reducing waste going to landfill saves open land for habitat and other purposes and reduces water and soil contamination. We also know that the effort of reducing landfill waste encourages direct reuse and puts more material in the recycling stream.
We know that reducing car trips made by a single rider cuts back on carbon emissions from transportation

Protecting student and teacher health includes ensuring a clean and healthy indoor environment in the school, as well as providing programs and services for good nutrition and physical activity. Paying attention to health in schools has an impact on well-being and learning:
We know that specific aspects of indoor air quality-such as the amount of CO2, VOCs, particulates and humidity in the air-have demonstrable impacts on student learning and human health more generally
We know that access to clean and safe drinking water can increase water intake, which benefits overall health. We also know that lead contamination in water has demonstrable impacts on cognitive development, attention and behavior, as well as a variety of impacts on physical health.
We know that exposure to daylight affects the production of important hormones that impact alertness and sleep/wake cycles.
We know that increasing the number of servings of whole grains, fruit and vegetables that students eat has positive impacts on their health, well-being and ability to learn.
We know that increasing the amount of physically active time that each student experiences during the school day can cut obesity rates and encourage positive lifetime habits.

Teaching students about sustainability and the environment gives them the tools they need to solve the global challenges we face now and in the future. Education that supports this type of literacy includes both curriculum and instructional practices that are interdisciplinary, place-based and rooted in the context that uniquely surrounds each student. This education impacts student understanding and action:

We know that increasing students' environmental knowledge while also employing instructional practices that focus on interdisciplinary and place-based problem solving can influence behavior change toward sustainability
We know that students for whom the environment is a context for learning perform better on measures of general academic performance.

The space of environment education is dogged by a very fundamental contradiction. While everyone, everywhere, asserts the importance of 'learning to live sustainably,' environment remains a peripheral issue in the formal schooling system. It continues to be viewed more as an extracurricular activity and less as a subject holding a priority position in the national curriculum. This is true not only in India, but worldwide. Fortunately, this has not deterred many talented, creative, and farsighted educators from experimenting, and evolving extremely innovative teaching methods, materials, and practices.
GSP is designed as a tool to help school communities to audit the use of natural resources within their own premises. It then provides them the methodology to assess themselves as environmental managers. Finally, it tells them how to plug the gaps that they inevitably identify in their current practices. It is an environmental textbook with a difference. It teaches real lessons.

Adopting the programme does not mean that the most complex technological and scientific problems that our planet faces today will be fixed instantly. It is too big a task. But it will:

Spur the growth of a more environmentally aware and responsible generation of citizens.
Equip resourceful teachers to foster environmental literacy.
Help every member of the school community understand the scope and significance of his or her role in the sustainable use of natural resources within the school campus.
Nudge everyone to get on with the job.

The Green Schools Programme helps move beyond words, jargons and intentions to practices that CSE believes in. It benchmarks a school's performance as environmental managers. The audit measures impact and motivates participants to work towards change.
The monitoring process is participatory and transparent. It encourages teachers to convert audit tasks into assignments for students. The initiative-based tasks also test student's skills of communication and analysis.
It helps schools record their available resources and trains students to collect information systematically to feed and ease up the analysis process.
The analysis of post-audit information can be used by a network of schools or by city or state governments to do a comparative evaluation so that best practices can be shared.
The audit equips school managements to skillfully manage their available resources for optimum utilization and become Green Schools.

Even before you start the audit process, join the Green School Network. It is a conglomeration of schools that have participated in the GSP (Green Schools Programme) audit or attended a training workshop organized by the GSP team or invited the GSP team to interact with your students, etc. Every school conducting the audit is eligible to be a member of the network. As a member, you get access to the monthly fun activities and various other resource materials on environment education.

Register for green school audit-(SOURCE)- GREEN SCHOOL NETWORK
CNN Video-Bali's 'Green School'

CNN's Dan Rivers reports from Bali on the "Green School," where the academics are literally wrapped up in the environment.