By MERLINA HERNANDO-MALIPOT
To encourage schools and other academic institutions to become more actively involved in environmental issues at a practical and local level, the Department of Education (DepEd) has announced the conduct of the 2019 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones, in a DepEd memo no. 24 series of 2019, announced that the search will be a partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Briones said that the national search for search for sustainable and eco-friendly schools was in response to Republic Act No. 9512 also known as the “National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008” and to the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan for Sustainable Development for 2014-2018.
Aside from encouraging academic institutions such as schools to “become more actively involved in environmental issues at a practical and local level,” the search, Briones added, also “aims to develop skills and understanding among the students, faculty, and school administrators in initiating active responses and increasing community awareness and participating in environmental concerns.”
DepEd said entries for public elementary and secondary schools categories shall be submitted directly to their respective Schools Division Offices (SDOs) while the private elementary, secondary and college categories shall submit their entries to the nearest DENR-EMB Regional Office. The deadline for the submission of entries is on April 26, 2019. The screening of entries will be June 28, 2019.
All winning entries for each category together with the selected entries, DepEd said, will be displayed during the national awarding ceremonies to be held this November – in time for the celebration of the National Environmental Awareness Month.
DepEd said that the search was also in line with the Global Action Program of the Post United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) declared from 2005-2014 and the National Environment Education Action Plan for Sustainable Development for 2018-2040 wherein “overcoming poverty, gender equality, health promotion, environmental conservation and protection, rural transformation, human rights, intercultural understanding and peace, sustainable production and consumption, cultural diversity, and information and communication technologies” are the key themes.
“Education for sustainable development centers on awareness of sustainable development issues, enhancing knowledge, influencing values and attitudes, and encouraging responsive behavior and learning that leads to action,” DepEd said. “Information is a major component of education and a continuous campaign for massive environmental awareness is indeed necessary,” it added.
DepEd stressed that under the country’s local response to the Global Action Program of the Post UNDESD and AEEAP, included in the National Environmental Education Action Plan for Sustainable Development is a national program that would encourage schools to establish sustainable and eco-friendly schools. “The school system is vital part of our basic learning that is seen as a powerful vehicle for change,” DepEd explained.
The school population – comprising of students, teaching and non-teaching personnel – constitute a “sizeable percentage” of the national population, DepEd said.
“As such, any program focused on advocacy and other multi-faceted program of activities done within the school system especially relating to environmental concerns needs to be documented, encouraged, and recognized,” DepEd added.
DepEd said that sustainable and eco-friendly schools may be described as “environment-friendly schools that have initiated and integrated in their instruction, research, extension, and/or administration, programs which are environment-related.”
In pursuit of sustainable eco-friendly schools, DepEd said that developing environmental policies for the school; physical cleanliness, orderliness and beautification of the school; energy conservation and demand management; water conservation/water management (maintenance of potable water); paper conservation/paper recycling; waste reduction, waste segregation, recycling and composting; air, water, and soil pollution control; seedling production/vegetable gardening and marketing; reforestation and/or nursery establishment; establishment of a botanical garden; herbarium; establishment of a bio-park; and environmental audits of school’s operations and facilities can be adopted.
DepEd added that the schools can also explore integration of environmental themes into the school curriculum; conduct in-service environmental training for faculty members; develop environmental support instructional materials; offer environmental degrees/certificate programs; environmental and natural resource-related research works and studies; promote linkages and exchanges on the environment with the following sectors: national government agencies, non-government organizations, religious organizations, local government units, business and industry sector; environmental awareness and community education, hold green fairs and environmental exhibits/sale of green products, hold seminars and/or symposia/conferences, hold eco-tours or ecological destinations, healthy lifestyle campaigns; and climate change adaptation and mitigation programs.
At the Regional Level, DepEd said that there will be one regional finalist which will be awarded with P15,000 and certificate of recognition.
For the competition at the National Level, the prizes per category (Elementary, High School and Tertiary) would be P50,000 for first prize; P40,000 for second Prize and P30,000 for third prize with certificates of recognition.
Per category, certificates of recognition and P20,000 also await the winners in the special awards such as the Nestle Water Leadership Awards and Meralco Energy Leadership Award. For the LANDBANK Green Leadership Award, winners in the national level will receive P25,000 (elementary); P25,000 (high school); and P25,000 (tertiary).