TEACHERS serve many roles in the classroom. they set the tone of their classrooms, build a warm environment, mentor and nurture students, become role models, and most importantly they impart knowledge to children.
Through the Eco-Schools programme (ESP), teachers become Eco-champions to lead and encourage their students to be active and take up more advanced environmental projects.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Malaysia education manager of ESP Jessie Chew said: “the Eco-Schools programme is a fun and educational programme providing structure and flexibility through its methodology and eco-themes.
“The whole-school approach empowers students and teachers to convert their knowledge in combination with appropriate skills and attitude to actions on the ground as agents of change. Theb programme instils a sense of responsibility and cultivates a sustainable mindset which they can apply on a daily basis,” she added.
Developing environmental responsibility and leadership in students begins in the classroom, and in a strong class setting, students can learn how to recognise, address and adopt the kinds of change that can positively affect their lives, communities and the rest of the world.
the ESP challenges students to engage in tackling environmental problems at their school level where they can see tangible results, encouraging them to realise that they can really make a difference.
Eco-Schools programme coordinator of Sekolah Sri Bestari (SSB), Kula Lumpur Shamsul Mutaza said: “My interest on the ESP began in 2012 when I attended a camp. I brought the idea back to my school and how time flies; it has been five years since we adopted the initiative.
“I encourage students to be involved in decision-making because when they experience a sense of achievement at being able to have a say in the environmental management policies of our schools, they feel valued,” he explained further.
Under Shamsul’s leadership, SSB has received the Green Flag award for many of its green practices. the school has been styrofoam-free since 2015, it maintains an e-portal to reduce their paper usage, and uses Forest Stewardship council (FSC) certified paper for printing, and many more initiatives driven by the school’s Eco team.
Headmistress of Sekolah Kebangsaan Lok Yuk, Inanam, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Elizabeth Lok Fei Ling said that her school has always been a frontier in environmental awareness. Unhappy with the state of the school when she first joined, she launched an environmental club called Kelab Program Rakan Bumi.
She said: “We took small steps when we began. I made sure the club held an environmental activity every month from waste management tutorial, compost making, terrarium and hydroponic planting and many more.
“I heard of ESP in 2012 and saw an opportunity for the school to embark on a meaningful path towards improving its environmental footprint,” she shared.
“We signed up in 2013 and I’m happy and proud that our school received the Green Flag award last year.
Elizabeth’s school has implemented many green initiatives such as rainwater harvesting for washing and watering purposes, flower pots made from used plastic bottles for hydroponic planting, river clean-up activity at a nearby village and the list continues.
WWF-Malaysia is the national operator of the Eco-Schools programme in Malaysia.
For many years, the organisation has been an advocator to educate students and the public on sustainability and environmental conservation.