On January 20, Paul & Virginie primary school shared with us one of its successes: its Bronze Award as an eco-school. Only six months after enrolling in this international programme, Paul & Virginie primary school has been recognized and awarded by the Reef Conservation, national affiliate of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) for the eco-school programme, for its actions aimed at protecting the environment. But what is an eco-school?
Eco-schools, created by the FEE, are a growing phenomenon around the world. These schools are committed to enabling students to become agents of change towards an eco-responsible world through activities and playful learning that instill concrete actions. It is to be noted that, to date, more than 18 million students from 68 countries have joined this program. In Mauritius and Rodrigues there are 170 schools that are registered under this programme. This constitutes 25% of the total school population of the Republic of Mauritius.
But how does this programme work? The eco-schools of the Indian Ocean work towards the three Cs which are the curriculum, the community and the campus. The goal is to improve students’ knowledge, offer them an eco-responsible environment on their respective campuses and encourage them to put into practice the knowledge acquired within their community. Among the topics that are covered, climate change, energy, waste, water, biodiversity, a healthy lifestyle, biodiversity, and others.
This programme includes7 stages; from defining an Eco Commitee developing the programme through the taught curriculum, to creating an eco-code, among other stages. As the schools go through these steps, they can reap rewards such as the Bronze Award, the Silver Award and ultimately the Green Flag Award.. In order to obtain the Green Flag Award, the school must complete the 7 stages of the programme and go through an assessment. Sandra Rabier, the director of Paul et Virginie primary school, tells us that her school will soon be able to claim the Green Flag Award as the school offers an exceptional environment to its students. However, she does not want to stop here. “Obtaining the Green Flag Award is one thing, but sustaining it is another challenge,” tells us Mrs Rabier. Paul and Virginie primary school wants to have a local footprint and to promote long-term human exchange, through partnerships with NGOs for example.
Since the beginning of this programme, Paul & Virginie primary school has implemented a series of actions such as educational outings related to recycling, the ecosystem and environmental protection, the sorting of waste, gardening and has more recently created an ‘eco-code’. This code of conduct aims at encouraging students, teachers and even visitors to adopt an eco-responsible behaviour.
What are our wishes for the school? To continue their efforts and that the students can share their new knowledge and practices to the greatest number and thus be the change for a better world!