Experts lay emphasis on ‘green school’ rollout for sustainable planet

‘The existing development modalities should be changed to protect the planet for our future generation. We can show the world with examples in the area of environmental conservation by devising our time-honored, indigenous practices and measures.’

Illustration of people cooperating for environmental protection and sustainability. Photo: World Bank

Krishna Sapkota

  • Read Time 4 min.

Kathmandu: Various national and international experts have laid emphasis on rolling out the ‘green school’ concept to address the pressing issues of climate change and its discernible impacts on education, particularly in rural communities.

At a seminar ‘’Green School: Education for a Sustainable Planet’ hosted by the Kathmandu University School of Education (KUSOED), Department of Development Education in the capital on Sunday, the presenters and speakers highlighted that investment in green school at present was ultimately for securing future and sustaining the planet.

Delivering welcome remarks, KUSOED Dean, Dr Bal Chandra Luitel shared its actions and plans on promoting partnerships with different institutions and communities for sustainable pedagogy which he said in a way reflected KUSOED’s sensitivities towards eco-justice and beyond classroom pedagogy.

As a keynote speaker of the session ‘Education and Climate Change: International Experiences and Lessons’, Head of School at Green School, New Zealand, Caroline Rennie underscored the need to design and deliver curriculum and pedagogy in way to integrate climate and schools actions and put the students and nature together. ‘School education needs to be connected with nature by bringing local to global worldviews of climate. Bringing academic rigor to connect school with nature is a joy to advance school for tomorrow’.

Deputy Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City Manjali Shakya Bajracharya called for local to global actors and stakeholders to explore development and transformation opportunities by placing ecology at the center. She expressed commitment that the metropolis would insert the policy and programme for rolling out ‘green school’ concept in Lalitpur in the upcoming policy, plan and budget. ‘The existing development modalities should be changed to protect the planet for our future generation. We can show the world with examples in the area of environmental conservation by devising our time-honored, indigenous practices and measures’.

In the session  ‘Climate and Education Way Forward’, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Dr Hari Lamsal expressed the commitment to work in tandem with various stakeholders, including academia, media, civil society organizations and sub-national level governments to implement the concept of green school. ‘The academia can support the government in executing the evolving concept of green school by providing evidence-based research. The best practices shared by international experts in the seminar will be utilized as a reference for advancing the model of green school in Nepal’.

Likewise, Deputy General Director of Centre for Education and Human Resource Development, MoEST,  Rudra Adhikary in the session ‘Green School – Policy, Practice and Way Forward’ defined ‘green school’ as a school that creates clean, healthy, protective and green surrounding, at the same time saving energy and environmental resources guided by the principles of environmental sustainability. ‘Schools, being an important aspect of the community, cannot move alone in any movement or campaign. So, the involvement, support and contribution from the community remain incomparable. Green school, thus, is an important element for global sustainability in every way’, he noted.

‘Students need to gain an understanding of environmental processes, inter- relationships and issues. It is quite important to acquire a number of life skills with appropriate attitudes, values and sensitivity towards environmental concerns. For this, teachers and students need to be sensitized for environmental sustainability through the active involvement of the community’, he explained.

To emphasize the green school concept, the Government of Nepal, has initiated related policies and practices aiming at promoting environment conservation education focusing on public schools.

Among the key documents to promote green schools in Nepal include Green School Program Implementation Directives and Green School Resource Handbook. The directives promote the concept of One Garden, One School in schools as a living laboratory. They mainly aim to promote environment conservation education in public schools. The purpose is to engage students in the school garden as a part of pedagogy aiming to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A panel of experts comprising Dr Laxmi Poudel from Save the Children, Ghanashyam Gurung from WWF, Prakriti Gurung from UNESCO, Sabina Joshi from UNICEF, Nikita Dhawan from Norwegian Embassy, Tuovi Leppamen from Embassy of Finland and Rosy Ghimire from Action Nepal highlighted the importance, challenges and way forward of green school.

Likewise, in the session ‘Education and Climate Change: International Experiences and Lessons’, experts from Pakistan, Australia, India and Bangladesh shared country-specific learning in the interdisciplinary area of education and climate change.

Various presenters, including Riju Dhakal, Sandeep Shrestha, Tina Silapkar, Rabina Maharjan and Sanjeevani Yonjon delivered their presentations in the session ‘Understanding Green School – Theory and Practice’.

The seminar aimed to promote critical awareness of existing best practices in Nepal and other countries in the South Asian Region regarding green schools, climate change, and education for a sustainable plan, shared Dr Raj Kumar Dhungana, a faculty of KUSOED.

KUSOED, Development Education Department Head Dr Suresh Gautam informed the seminar offered an unique opportunity collaborate on future initiatives. ‘By fostering dialogue and connections among educators, policymakers, and environmental organizations, the seminar was to create a ripple effect that will go beyond the event itself’, he noted.

Presenting the key takeaway messages of the seminar, KUSOED acting dean, Associate Professor Dr Prakash Chandra Bhattarai said there were ample opportunities to propagate the concept of green school in Nepal with the framing of policies and directives and readiness on part of the stakeholders but things were not happening now. He highlighted the need to expand the implementation of several school reform initiatives, including green school also in the nooks and corners of the country being not limited to the urban area.

The seminar hosted in cahoots with the KUSOED, MPhil Development Studies, 2023 Batch was attended by 70 plus participants in physical and virtual mode.