It all starts in the classroom
Eco-Schools is a growing phenomenon, which encourages young people to engage in their environment by allowing them the opportunity to actively protect it. It starts in the classroom; it expands to the school and eventually fosters change in the community at large. Through this program, young people experience a sense of achievement at being able to have a say in the environmental management policies of their schools, ultimately steering them towards certification and the prestige which comes with being awarded a Green Flag. The Eco-Schools program is an ideal way for schools to embark on a meaningful path towards improving the environment in both the school and the local community while at the same time having a life-long positive impact on the lives of young people, their families, school staff and local authorities.
Combining learning with hands-on experiences, the whole program is run according to an all-inclusive, participatory approach involving students, teachers and the local community at large.
Eco-Schools challenges students to engage in tackling environmental problems at a level where they can see tangible results, spurring them on to realise that they really can make a difference.
Improves School Environments
The Eco-Schools program is an ideal way for schools to embark on a meaningful path towards improving the environmental footprint of a school, a change which inevitably leads to a more sustainable, less costly and more responsible school environment.
Eco-Schools instills in students a sense of responsibility and cultivates a sustainable mindset which they can apply on a daily basis. It equips those involved with the drive to really make a difference and to spread such proactive behavior amongst family and friends, ultimately passing it on to future generations.
Eco-Schools places great emphasis on involving the local community from the very beginning. By doing so, the lessons the students pick up are transferred back into the community where they take hold and lead to more sustainable, environmentally responsible behavior patterns all round.
Eco-Schools facilitates contact between participating institutions not just at the national level, but also internationally. These links provide an opportunity for schools to share environmental information, they can also be used as a means for cultural exchanges and for improving language skills. Here in the Dominican Republic there are 15 schools participating.
8 steps for Eco-School flag
Constitution of the Environmental Committee
It will be represented by the entire educational community: students, teachers, staffs, parents and friends from the school, representatives of the community. This committee will be in charge of ensuring the implementation of the program’s criteria in the school, coordinating the activities to be carried out and presenting the results in the national coordination for evaluation.
Eco Environmental Audit
Each environmental committee coordinates the analysis of the starting situation of the school and the environment through a questionnaire that is provided to the schools participating by the national coordination. This environmental audit makes it possible to detect and analyze the needs and consequent environmental priorities, so that it helps in the subsequent preparation and determination of action plans.
After evaluating the results of the environmental audit, the environmental committee in conjunction with the school must design the Action Plan, which includes the 4 topics that are worked on each year, in addition to containing a participatory classroom project or activities that allow completing the 8 steps, linking environmental issues with the educational curriculum.
Code of Conduct
The Environmental Committee will define a Code of Conduct, based on the proposals of the different classes or groups, which must be related to the Action Plan and the basic theme selected. The Code of Conduct includes an action or behavior carried out by the students of the school, leading to the fulfillment of the objectives of the Action Plan, a kind of Decalogue of the Eco Schools.
There is a list of 11 topics promoted by the Eco Schools program.
- Biodiversity and nature.
- Climate change.
- Global citizenship.
- Health & Wellness.
- Marine and coasts.
- The areas of the school.
Monitoring and Evaluation
In order to know the reach of the objectives set out in its Action Plan and to measure the relative impact of the Eco School program on the reality of the school, it is necessary to monitor and measure the development of the proposed activities, as well as weighing their results, therefore this step is one of the most important. The members of the environmental committee, and the educational community in general, have the responsibility to constantly monitor the work carried out, so that it is possible to obtain clear estimates of the Ecological Footprint of the school.
Link with the Educational Curriculum
One of the most important requirements of the Eco Schools program is that the activities have to be closely linked to the curricular activities of the school. Educational institutions will not be able to obtain a Green Flag unless this objective has been successfully achieved. For this purpose, the school must present evidence of the integration of the program in at least four subjects, included in the regular curriculum, either through a Participatory Classroom Project with an Environmental Focus, or through classes and creative activities.
- It is essential that the entire school and the community in general be involved in actions in favor of the environment and awareness of the Eco Schools program.
- It is advisable to assign functions to all areas that make up the educational community, to monitor the work, measure, and ensure that its objectives are met within the program.
- It is important to include various participants (students, parents, administrators, support staff, community neighbors) in the actions, and reflect this through participation lists and photographic evidence.