A thousand church schools are set to become ‘green schools’ over the next year as part of an ambitious environmental plan by the Church of South India (CSI).
Representatives from 23 dioceses in CSI including teachers, youth leaders and Eco directors took part in a three-day programme in connection with World Environment Day on 5 June. The Department of Ecological Concerns in collaboration with the departments of Youth and SEVA (diaconal Concerns) organised the event to discuss global warming and the ecological crisis facing their country.
Prof Mathew Kosy Punnackadu, an environmental scientist, writer and activist, who initiated the Green Church Movement in India, said, “We have taken a decision to make 1,000 schools of CSI into Green Schools this year. While everyone, everywhere asserts the importance of 'learning to live sustainably', environment remains a peripheral issue in the formal schooling system.”
He explained that environmental issues were viewed as an extracurricular activity and didn’t have a priority position in the national curriculum.
“The Green School programme moves beyond theories and text books and concentrates on 'doing',” he said.
The aim is to make students more aware with thought-provoking activities. The programme will involve an environment management system, run by students, which audits the consumption of natural resources within the school campuses and helps schools become good environmental managers. The Green School Project will be run in collaboration with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi. The schools will have to register for the green audit and CSE will give training for the eco-teachers of each school, providing manuals and other audit tools.
Professor Punnackadu added, “Schools will become Green Schools, students will study environmental science and will get good eco-insights, teaching and study will become more interesting and the results of the schools will improve. We started the campaign to enrol as many schools in Green School Project. CSI has more than 1500 Schools in South India. This year project aims to work with 1,000 schools.”
Other outcomes from the environmental gathering included plans for training for diocesan leaders with projects such as waste management, renewable energy and the planting of 100,000 saplings.