Sunday, February 23, 2014

Environmental friendly school leading by example.

The other day I visited a primary school within my area where I went to monitor different environmental projects going on in the school. It was midday and every pupil rushed for a space in the benches. Pupils from different backgrounds would sit together in the mercy of Mother Nature having a break under a shade from trees they had been watering for years at times one could expect same children sited in the hot sun having a small lunch yet sweating for the place with a history of hottest sun over decades. Yathrib Primary School is a public primary school located in Medina Location of Garissa Municipality. This is a school every young and old would love to spend a day at. From tree planting to waste management, water harvesting, energy saving, to hygiene promotion and finally to environmental education, this is an environmental friendly school. Happiness and shy smiles is seen on the faces of girl children when playing handball. In an environment where trees grow by a chance, this school has a legacy to claim. The tall neem and Delonix ragia trees swinging can be seen from far distances. The blue painted school buildings can tell this is a peaceful environment both for learning and child development. The greening of the school has encouraged enrolment increase. “When I came to this school in 2010, we had 560 students. But now, there are more than 1,400.” Says Mr. Abdinoor Ole Huseein, the Headteacher , With the past years beyond 2010, the school has been a located in the wild with no settlements nearby and students going far distances to get quality education. At this moment, the neighbourhood no longer takes the risk of sending their children to distances. It takes them less than walking distance to the school. Imagine of a school with no trees and with no dump site within. In the middle of a lesson, a flying old newspaper comes to the classroom. Will that student concentrate on getting to see if the newspaper has a football photo or look at the teacher for that lesson on-going? That child is not settled psychologically. It means that a dirty environment affects their concentration of the child in class. Get me a piece of waste paper and I will get you back a dollar challenge does not seem to work here. With a journey of 1000 miles starting with one step, the institution has recycled waste water jerry cans with long handles and attached with a bicycle chain for the benefit of managing waste. The clean environment can put you in doubt that the students are no longer using the famous Kasuku exercise books but rather using wireless technology in learning. The tree planting activities have had positive response and attitude towards greening of the school. In the lower classes, every child is assigned a tree to take care for the period he or she will be within the school. With most resources in the region being scarce, the school administration did not miss an innovation to ensure the survival of trees. They have provided them with plastic jerry cans to ensure water sufficiency. Lucky them who get fresh and clean air meaning that these children are not exposed to polluted air. The school does not have to rely on water supply from the local water company neither is it scared of water shortages. Its roofs fitted with gutters can assure water sustainability within the school both for domestic and greening activities. The school harvests water during short and long rains. With more than 5 water tanks located at different spots within the compound, the school has guarantee for survival even with its tap running dry. Towards the end of last year, the school launched an eco-library to support its environmental awareness from practice to information sharing and dissemination. The environmental library is the only one on its kind in the region. Pupils have an access to different environmental learning materials from Tunza Magazine for children and youth to the Planet Magazine. Through this information, they get inspired by how young people from other parts of the world start small environmental initiatives in their communities and also at schools and how they get successful at a very young age. On completion of schooling period, the students will be in a good position to address these global issues through information sharing and advocacy and be able to replicate similar knowledge in other places even in their high school level or even when they join varsities. On energy, the institution uses solar energy in its Computer Laboratory. This has enabled learners to use new technologies yet cutting on cost of electricity. The primary school is one of the beneficiaries in the Garissa Street Greening- Kazi kwa Vijana programme that was initiated by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). Through this, the school got support in terms of trees. In partnership, the school has been able to work close with different organizations such as the UNEP Department of Communications and Publications, UNICEF- Sopo Hand Washing Campaign, Garissa Municipal Council and the Kenya Forest Service, Garissa Energy Centre and many others. The school has made friends who purposely come and get fresh air at the same time sitting on the same bench with the students. from the area MP Hon.Aden Dualle who is a frequent visitor and His Worship the Mayor for Garissa Municipality Mr.Ismail Garat to Professor Olubayi of the Global Litearacy Project.The most eye catching tree that the school cannot witness dying or getting weak is the one planted by PS Ali Daud. With the school administration being highlighted on global environmental issues whether through an annual general meeting or through training of eco-club teachers, they have been supportive to all environmental activities at all cost within the school. Such schools who at their own cost implement small initiatives geared towards conservation of nature need to be recognized in here future. Where there is a green will, there is a green living and a green future.

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