SMA 5 Jember – Talking About Eco-Schools in England

James Ogilvie – England

On Friday morning, on our way to Sukamade, Meru Betiri National Park, we visited SMA 5, a senior high school in the city of Jember. SMA 5 has been the Indonesian equivalent of an Eco-School for the last two years and we came to discuss the management of Eco-Schools in England and Japan and how they can be compared to what they do in their school in Indonesia. Unfortunately there was a power cut at the school so they had no electricity, which meant we could not use the Powerpoint presentations that we had prepared. Instead we had to go back to the old fashioned way of teaching and use the blackboard!

A large group of students and teachers were gathered in one of the classrooms in the school to listen to our presentations. I began by introducing the concept of Eco-Schools and explaining why it is so important that children are educated about the environment. I explained the government targets in the UK to make all schools become Eco-Schools by the year 2020, and discussed how the targets are progressing so far. Currently around 55% of all schools in the country are participating in the Eco-School scheme, although this number increases daily.

I continued to explain how the Eco-School program is managed in English schools and how there are several stages to the process of becoming an Eco-School and progressing to achieve ‘Green Flag Award’ status; the highest achievement in terms of Eco-Schools. The first stage is to appoint an ‘Environmental Action Team’, whose first job is to review the environmental condition of the school. They will then create an ‘Action Plan’ to address the issues raised in the environmental review and come up with ways in which the environmental condition of the school can be improved or enhanced. Action must then be taken, following the environmental action plan, and demonstrable progress must be made. The situation should be monitored and reviewed regularly by the action team, who will continue to work towards improving the school’s environment.

I used a case study of a primary school in England to back up the information I had told them about the Eco-School program. Berkswich Primary School has been an Eco-School since 2005 and they have installed a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels and low energy lighting, resulting in substantial water and energy savings throughout the school. The students and teachers were particularly interested about hearing about this, as it shows how the work of an Eco-School can be put into action and how it can have hugely positive results.

Once I had finished talking about Eco-Schools in England, it was Yusuke’s turn to talk about Eco-Schools in Japan. After he had finished we got back in the car and continued on our long journey to Meru Betiri.

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