‘Green’ in on cur­ricu­lum at Jeppe Park Pri­mary

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Su­laiman Philip

The sChool Is A lIv­Ing lab­o­ra­tory for green con­struc­tion and its in­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum will im­prove the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Adis­used shoe fac­tory in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg has been re­claimed as a pri­mary school for 45 chil­dren. It also re­cently be­came the first school in Africa to re­ceive a four-star Green Star rat­ing for its sus­tain­able and eco­log­i­cally friendly de­sign.

Jeppe Park Pri­mary is a liv­ing lab­o­ra­tory for green con­struc­tion and its in­no­va­tive ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum will im­prove the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Planned to of­fer high-qual­ity, low-cost ed­u­ca­tion to in­ner city chil­dren, the school ben­e­fit­ted from the help of Jo­han­nes­burg-based ar­chi­tects and con­struc­tion pro­fes­sion­als in the green econ­omy.

The school’s small con­struc­tion bud­get led to in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions that are be­ing cel­e­brated. Dry-wall of­f­cuts and wooden pal­lets were re­cy­cled to build class­rooms and fur­ni­ture, the li­brary floor was laid us­ing re­claimed wood, rub­ble from the ren­o­va­tions was used to build a new ramp, and re­cov­ered cor­ru­gated sheet­ing be­came new bath­room ceil­ings.

The play area was de­signed to be a part of the learn­ing process and na­ture forms a holis­tic part of ev­ery­day life at the school. As well as in­door plant­ing and a court­yard with re­cy­cled pal­ette planters for trees and plants, the school has started grow­ing veg­eta­bles to sup­ple­ment the chil­dren’s lunches.

Me­lanie Smuts, the school’s founder and CEO of non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion Street­light Schools, said, “Our ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tions were cost and how to cre­ate a child-friendly space in an in­dus­trial area. But it has been amaz­ing to see how many of th­ese prin­ci­ples also lead to de­sign­ing an ed­u­ca­tion space that is sus­tain­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. And our stu­dents love it.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal rat­ing

The ren­o­va­tion of the build­ing and its waste, en­ergy and wa­ter sys­tems are all en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly. It serves a more no­ble pur­pose, says Do­rah Modise, CEO of the Green Build­ing Coun­cil of South Africa. “Not only does this school bring healthy green spa­ces and green think­ing to dis­ad­van­taged schol­ars, it is also start­ing the very nec­es­sary process of green­ing the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor. It will go a long way to­wards help­ing th­ese chil­dren un­der­stand that re­sources are fi­nite and come at a price.”

There are three rat­ing lev­els, four to six stars, that ap­ply to dif­fer­ent sec­tors in­clud­ing in­te­ri­ors, re­tail, ed­u­ca­tion and res­i­den­tial build­ings. Jeppe’s four-star rat­ing means it is an ex­am­ple of best prac­tice in its field.

Bring­ing green think­ing into the school space.

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