Keeping It Green
Being environmentally conscious begins at the grassroots and these schools are planting the seeds
Words by Tania Jayatilaka Photos by Tenby International School Miri and Alice Smith International School
Ironically, developing a sense of responsibility for your natural environment doesn’t happen naturally. Wide-scale pollution and harmful practices across the globe warrant the need for more awareness and action. As adults, we should all be making efforts to educate ourselves on how we can help make the world a cleaner, greener place. One of the most important things parents should be doing is encouraging their children to get involved and discover what they can do to help.
These international schools have taken the initiative and are spearheading different programmes to promote awareness and become more environmentally friendly.
ALICE SMITH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL A leading non-profit co-ed school offering the British curriculum in Kuala Lumpur, Alice Smith School is working alongside the Eco Schools Programme by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) Malaysia. This is no surprise, given their spacious green campuses in Jalan Bellamy and Seri Kembangan. But beneath the surface, the school tackles the challenge of incorporating a ‘green’ work ethic at all levels of daily operation and this eco-conscious attitude has made an impact on the students.
“We’ve got a group of students that’s been in operation for three years now, the KLASS (Kuala Lumpur Alice Smith School) Action Group who meet on a weekly basis, led by Jade Caublot, a sixth-former,” says secondary school Vice Principal, Gavin Lazaro, who initiated the team some years back but now takes a more secondary-role to the students.
The students recycle paper, plastic and metal on campus. Water fill-up stations are dispersed throughout the grounds as the sale of disposable water bottles on campus has ceased. Bathrooms are equipped with water-saving devices and more hand-dryers are being installed. The meals served on campus lean increasingly towards vegetables, fruits and other ethically-sourced consumer items.
The school’s goal to achieve the Eco Schools Green Flag status necessitates an observance of energy consumption, litter, recycling and water usage. “We’ve even introduced cycle shelters to encourage students to cycle to school,” says Gavin.
INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF KUALA LUMPUR The International School of Kuala Lumpur’s (ISKL) Ampang Hilir Campus will be the first Malaysian school to achieve Green Building Index Platinum status when it opens in August 2018. This non-profit, parent-governed school has already achieved the Eco-school Green Flag status through its commitment to protect the environment.
ISKL’S Education for Sustainable Development curriculum is one way the school promotes environmental studies alongside co-curricular activities. The full-time position of Sustainability and Service Learning Coordinator was created to help teachers integrate environmental preservation skills into the curricula and cultivate student leadership in wide-reaching green initiatives.
ISKL’S Green Council is student-led, as required by the Eco-schools Programme’s participation guidelines. The students are actively exposed to numerous opportunities to make a difference in their cities and communities via co-curricular environmental projects like Habitat for Humanity or Earth Week. The Earth Club for secondary students or primary level activities like Green Earth, Ecoart, Green Guardians and Model United Nations aim to inspire habits like recycling, composting and waste management alongside other forms of community outreach.
TENBY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL MIRI Tenby International School Miri has operated from its purpose-built Senadin campus since 2013. Under the Eco Schools Programme, Tenby Miri hopes to achieve bronze status this year. The school’s ‘Eco-warriors’ committee consists of two students each from Years 6 to 11 who are tasked with monitoring overall campus eco-friendliness each day.
From air conditioners left on after class to littering on campus, these students can issue red thumbs-down stickers to call out poor practices or green thumbs-up stickers (exchangeable for House points) to reward eco-friendly habits.
“We have a lot of responsibility as Eco-warriors which we take very seriously. It’s really helping us to understand how our school works and where we can make improvements,” says Year 9 student Phyllis Ong.
“We are making a difference already; other students are coming to us with ideas for recycling and other areas to work on,” adds Charles Ford, a Year 6 student and Eco-warriors team member.
Students of all ages will soon get to participate in Tenby’s EcoGarden project, where they will learn the gardening and irrigation techniques they need to grow herbs, spices, fruits, flowers, and vegetables that will later be used in the school cafeteria.
Martin Shelley, the secondary school coordinator in charge of these eco-activities, says the Eco-garden is nearly finished and may soon include a rainwater supply, composting systems, and more local plants and trees.
“Our Eco-warriors are already hard at work monitoring littering and the use of electricity in the school. We are well on the way to our goal of a 20 per cent reduction in electricity usage.” Martin says. EL
ECO- GARDEN PLANTERS LOOK PRETTY AND ENCOURA GE GR OWTH AT TENBY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL MIRI