Jamshepur: On 23rdMarch 2020, entire India came to a halt on the announcement of first lockdown. Life had come to a standstill for 243 million adolescents that constitute nearly 21% of Indian population.
This assemblage also included of the students under ‘The Green School’ project (adolescents from Eastern belt of India) that were bursting with energy and looking for avenues to unleash their creative expression. The Green School project used this occasion to provide students with plethora of opportunities to make use of their time in constructive manner by making environment friendly products and undertaking activities for conserving the planet.
The students made containers for segregation of waste, constructed bird-nests and bird feeders for protection of biodiversity, made recyclable paper bags using waste or unwanted material for reducing plastic waste, setup of medicinal and herbal spots in and around their home, composted wet waste, etc.
In April when the second lockdown was announced, it was more and less clear that schools were not going to open in near future. The cohort of students across Jharkhand and Odisha joined hands and started learning from nature by observing their immediate environment.They participated in a series of activities such as creating leaf art from various indigenous plants’ leaves which made them understand their local flora and fauna, recognizing the birds voice in their locality by recording and making videos of the birds in the early hours of the day, etc.
They not only shared their learnings with their schoolmates through regular online platforms set up by their respective schools but also acted as peer educators and shared it with students across states through webinars, social media, and closed WhatsApp groups, etc set up under the project.
The students acquired traditional knowledge on ‘Worli’ and ‘Madhubani Art’ forms by attending sessions by domain experts on waste management. This gave them insights to create beautiful forms from waste materials such as old cloths, paper, natural colours etc. Students also shared traditional local tales on conserving the environment, narrated by their elders and grandparents through audio recordings with the other students.
During this entire process, the School Teachers were a support pillars and motivated students to initiate working on ‘Community Impact Projects’ in their locality.
In the previous years, the students used to step out of their schools into the neighborhood areas to interact with the community and implement actionable environmental projects. This year due to the pandemic students kept to their homes and came out with their own unique ideas to sensitize the people in their vicinity through activities such as paper bag making (to be distributed later amongst the community), developing and installing birds nest on the trees in their locality, setting-up community composite pits using waste products like tyres, barrels, etc.
This was a commendable effort considering the fact that all our students followed the COVID protocol set up by the government and validated the famous saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way”. The entire activities were executed by the students under the proper guidance of expert environmental engineers from TATA Steel and environment educators from TERI.
The Green School is a Tata Steel and Teri initiative which was launched formally on Earth Day (22nd April) in 2017. The project aims to build the capacity of the students to enable them to mitigate climate changes through individual initiatives by minimizing waste, conserving water, promote efficient use of energy and by protecting their forest and biodiversity. This project creates a comprehensive vision of a cleaner world by creating awareness about environment issues through various ‘out of the classroom’ educational tools.
The schools under ‘The Green School’ project were instrumental in promoting the project’s underlying philosophy throughout the year and have set new benchmarks for school leadership in the field of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
Taking this forward The Green School is acknowledging its Green Ambassadors who had actively participated across the locations and have outperformed not only in all the activities planned under the project but also went ahead and out of box action project are implemented in the neighboring community. These students were awarded during the Children’s day 2020 to honor them for their initiative towards environment during this pandemic.