Gobar Times
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Beyond books

     Beyond Books     

    Lesson Plans of Environment    

The term 'ecology' was coined only in the latter half of the 19th century from the Greek word Oikos, meaning 'home'.

And environment education was first concisely defined in 1969 by Dr. William Stapp, University of Michigan, the US, as: "Environmental education is aimed at producing a citizenry that is knowledgeable concerning the biophysical environment and its associated problems, aware of how to help solve these problems, and motivated to work toward their solution."

Ancient India adopted it as a way of life. For the young students who spent their early years in the Guru's ashram, environment was woven into the learning process, not just as a subject in the "curriculum", but as a part of their social, cultural, and religious customs and activities. So tending the vriksha (tree); worshipping the awe-inspiring naga raja (snake god); and getting intimately acquainted with the Van (forests); which surrounded the ashram, were as much a part of their daily routine, as were eating, drinking and sleeping….and, of course, learning those Vedic hymns by heart.

This backdrop changed in the middle ages, as Pathshalas and Madrasas replaced the ashrams. A more formal system of education-bearing closer resemblance to the schools of today-had been established. The gurus of yore taught students the skill to attain knowledge by using the five senses-by seeing, touching, feeling, smelling and tasting. Now, the focus was on classroom instructions and learning of the 'R's (reading, writing and Arithmetic).

Then in the late 17th and early 18th century, Indian students, along with their counterparts in various other parts of the globe, were introduced to the European brand of education. It was extremely enriching, because Europe-during this period-was making spectacular progress in science and technology.

It was also in the throes of the Industrial Revolution. India, of course, was the most sought after destination of the European colonisers, looking for new markets and fresh sources of raw materials. It also emerged as the most fertile testing ground for their ideologies and systems, in the field of education.

Again, the process opened new vistas for Indian intellectuals. But at the ground level, it finally severed the bond that the young once shared with their environment. Classrooms and text books defined school education.

Till the late 19th and early 20th century. By then India, along with the rest of the world, had begun to feel the impact of this disconnection. Rampant and unplanned urbanisation, galloping industrialisation, and the tremendous toll taken on the natural resources of the planet, had driven home a strong message. That the students had to re-forge their bond with the elements of nature-with water, air and land. Because efficient, frugal, and wise management of environment had to be the fundamental mantra of the next generation.

    EE? Whats that?    

In India, work towards integrating environment in school curriculum, began to take shape only in the late 1980s. In 1986 the National Policy on Education stated, "There is a paramount need to create a consciousness of the environment". Still the pace was slow and schools taking interest in spreading awareness were few and far between.

Then the Indian Supreme Court, decided to take action. On December 2003, it issued a directive stating that Environmental Education should be taught as a compulsory subject at all levels of education.

And directed the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to draw a model syllabus for it by April 14, 2004.


      Evolving Education     

The practice of and perceptions about environmental education (EE) have evolved over the years. Here are some highlights over the ages:

    The 19th century     

Visionaries interested in the natural sciences urged people to get more intimately acquainted with the elements of nature. They also began to ring the alarm bells, calling for a halt to the destructive trends of urbanisation and industrialisation.

    The 20th century    

       The 1960s      

  • Natural sciences combined with geography, history, economics and anthropology led to the re-emergence of what experts called 'the science of our home or the domestic economy of dwelling house Earth: ecology'.
  • Various associations and societies for the defence of nature were established.
  • 1961: Creation of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) by the World Conservation Union (IUCN, established in 1948).

    The 1970s     

  • Emergence of non-governmental organisations, like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, with environment as key agenda.
  • Establishment of government ministries for the protection of nature and the environment in many countries.
  • October, 1970: the US President Richard Nixon signs the first Environmental Education Act into law.
  • 1972: the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, that came up with a set of recommendations on EE, which was then acknowledged to be a tool in solving environmental problems.
  • 1975: the International Environmental Workshop in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, resulted in the Belgrade Charter. The Charter defines the goals and objectives of environmental education.
  • 1977: the Belgrade Charter further refined at the Intergovernmental Conference on EE in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. It explicitly stated the objectives of environmental education as: awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills and participation. The 1980s
  • Proposals for sustainable development emerge.
  • Two major accidents — explosion of a pesticide plant owned by a US corporation, Union Carbide, in Bhopal (1984), and the Chernobyl disaster (1986) - shook the international community.
  • 1983: Work initiated by the International Commission on the Environment and Development (of the UN).
  • 1987: the Brundtland Commission Report appeared. The existence of a growing hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic confirmed.
  • End of 1980s: the Exxon Valdez spills 240000 barrels of oil into the sea on the coast of Alaska, resulting in greater need for EE.

     The 1990s     

  • 1991: The Gulf War breaks out, and ends with great loss of human life and environmental catastrophe.
  • June 1992: The Earth Summit is convened in Rio de Janeiro by the United Nations to debate the contemporary crisis and its environmental aspects. A planetary action plan is conceived under the name of Agenda 21. Chapter 36 establishes the key role of education in solving problems generated by the crisis.
  • September 1992: the US, Mexico, and Canada sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Environmental Education. These major trends of the past, the social protests, the environmental problem solving, the planetary crisis and the global management, and the effects of globalisation mark the course of Environment Education.

In India EE is compulsory. But there is one huge threat looming. ‘Environment’ may be reduced to being yet another boring subject. Centre for Science and Environment believed that this danger must be averted.So it came up with GSP.


GSP’s goals: to turn the school premises, if not into an ashram, but into a lab, where students can really touch, feel, smell and taste environment; and to help assess themselves as Environment managers. This is what they found…

Water How much is being used within the premises? How much is being conserved? What is the technology being used to conserve? And we found...

On an average one person consumes 36.78 litres

75% schools did rainwater harvesting, but only one is harvesting the full potential.

    The Audit Says:       Per capita consumption in day schools way below national average. Level of water security is precarious; Majority practices RWH but only as a show piece model. The amount harvested is not of any consequence. Reuse is innovatively practiced. But again only a few measure the volume.

What are the main sources of energy…and how eco friendly are they? How much energy do they consume? How much do they save? And we found…

On an average schools use 3 to 4 types of energy sources. But Sholai uses 13 types.

     The Audit Says:        Per capita consumption far below national average. Primary consumption is of vehicular fuel (46%). Not of Electricity (36%). However, CNG tops the fuel list.In
Delhi, schools have scored heavily thanks to the state government’s fuel policy vis-à-vis commercial vehicles.

How does the school community commute? How eco-friendly are the school-run vehicles? Are all the classrooms well-ventilated? And we found…

  Waste How much waste do they generate? How do they collect? How much do they recycle?How do they dispose? And we found…

95% segregate before disposal 85% recycle paper 80% compost organic waste

Per capita waste generated??No data Only 5 out of 20 could account how much!

    The Audit Says:      Waste management is the most hyped activity in schools.But only as a token measure. No real accounting happens. Recycling, composting a common practice. But no one measures amount.


    Is yourschool a good environment manager? Do your audit – GSP style     

Calculate how long it takes to fill a 30 litre bucket. Then find out how many hours the pump runs and the water usage of the school

Ask the school administration about the total area of the school including rooftop and paved area. Calculate the unpaved area by deducting them from the total

Check that the school’s overhead tanks are completely full in the morning and see the status in the evening to find out the water usage

Check out the waste management cycle in the school. Ask the house keeping staff to help you

Go around the sch and count the num of dustbins

Find out the number of cylinders used per month on an average from the canteen staff

Dig out the electricity bills from the school office

Ask the generator attendant to show you the log book of fuels and find out the amount of fuels used

Do a tree count by marking trees. For example, G-4 may mean Guava tree no. 4

Contact individual class monitors to survey their classes for means of commuting, and forward the data to you

Interview the school drivers and verify the fuel used and the actual mileage of the vehicles



          The Green Audits          

How the rating helped schools to understand their resource use

Gobar Times Green School Programme is not a run-of-the-mill rating process. Its an audit that: It helps to take stock of environment and natural resource management within schools. It suggests steps to improve performance and to benchmark it nationally. It ensures implementation of these steps in the future for a better school habitat, and a more environmentally aware and involved school community.

We acknowledge:

The ability of schools to conduct and complete such an audit within a limited time period, with technically untrained teams, is unparalleled.

Why GSP is a must?

It reinforces the fact that schools are an extremely powerful medium for generating interest and mobilising action among students. From diverse age groups and socio-economic background.

And ensure delivery on time…

       Rating Coverage      

States: 25 Significant participation from Delhi, Jharkhand,West Bengal,Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh,Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh

Government or aided schools:39% Public, private networks:61%

School rated on two parameters:

  1. How green is it: Assessment of the actual status of school habitat, and the way it is being managed.
  2. How effectively has the GSP tool been used: Evaluation of the level of involvement of different sections of the school community in the audit process. The ability of schools to conduct and complete such an audit within a limited time period, with technically untrained teams, is unparalleled. However...

The Average Score: Schools are aware of the importance of wise management. But are weak in making linkages with real life situations. Innovative methods are applied. But follow-up process to measure and quantify the impact does not exist. Environment-related programmes are still extracurricular. No structured approach is evident.


      The Greenest among them all      

More about the winners…

1     Government Sr. Sec. School    
     Boormajra, Ropar, Punjab

It is a village school-one of the few that had participated in the GSP. It emerged the winner due to the amazingly precise audit data it produced. Its performance as an environmental manager was remarkable. The school meticulously collects spillage from drinking water taps in large troughs. This water is then used for watering plants and shrubs in the schools grounds. This way it is able to reuse almost 50 per cent of the total waste water gererated. For the air audit, students went about asking each student, teacher and others, how they commuted to school. A comprehensive list of plant and animal species was also submitted on time. Interestingly, CSE received the original land data sheets in Punjabi. Ms Baljit Kaur, Teacher Coordinator, told GT, “In our school, we give a prize to each child, who is able to collect 100 wrappers of toffees. Result - no littering in school".

2       Sholai School    
      Kodaikanal, Tamlnadu

Nestling in a picturesque hill in Kodaikanal, this school is unique in many ways. It is a residential school, but has only 51 students living in its vast 100 acre compound. It has a small brook running across the grounds, which is embanked and used as the only source of water for the entire school community. There are more such interesting facts about Sholai. It derives its energy from a number of nonconventional energy sources - solar, wind, biogas, even a draught animal!So while the rest of the participants recorded three to four types of energy sources, Sholai came up with 13! It is not connected to a power grid at all. It receives its entire supply from a micro - hydel project right in the campus. But perhaps the most fascinating bit of information is that it still uses a pony for uphill travel,to save energy.

     Evergreen Public School     
      Vasundhara Enclave, New Delhi

The name could not have been more apt. It is one of the few schools which harvests rainwater optimally. While most others only collect the rain which falls on the roof top,Evergreen collects every drop that falls on its rooftop, paved, as well as unpaved areas. It reuses spillage from drinking water points to recharge ground water. The school also found out the exact amount of spillage per day and hence could collect the amount of water reused.

The per capita consumption of water was found by monitoring the overhead tanks. The school ground now have a unique look, because each tree here is marked with a special number. So its A12 for the 12th Ashoka tree, and G4 marks a Guava tree. Barnali Dutta, the teacher coordinator worked along with a team of five teachers to execute the project in the school. In fact, the idea of marking the trees for a tree count was offered by the teachers team. No surprise, therefore, that the teachers team consisting of Ms Barnali Dutta, got the Gobar Times Best Teachers Team Award.


4          Mother's International School      
       New Delhi

Apart from having a rainwater harvesting structure in place, the school did a comprehensive land audit and documented the floral and faunal diversity of the campus. It was even
able to capture images of animal species found, and the students made a colourful scrap book on the plant species in campus. While doing the water audit the school also found out the exact amount ot ground water consumed. They put the pump on and filled up a bucket, the volume, of which was measured. The average per day running time of the pump was noted and the average consumption calculated. To verify the volume the students used beakers from the lab. Ms Veerinder Kaur, the teacher coordinator said, " We got to know a lot of knew things about ourselves while implementing the programme".

5       Kerela Public School     
      Kadma, Jamshedpur

This school from Jamshedpur sent us detailed data sheets on mileage of schools vehicles and the passenger capacity along with details of commuting practices of the school.

6      Presentation Convent   
      New Delhi

This school has a clear cut environmental policy, which is mounted on a giant board that stands at the entrance . OUR ENVIRONMENT POLICY says the hoarding.The school sent CSE precise data on commuting practices. As many other schools, this school also puts up eco-friendly messages in different places within the school building. But Presentation Convent has been more meticulous. It actually got such stickers printed, so that these could weather dust, rain, and still send out the messages loud and clear! Ms Meena Jethi coordinated the programme in the school.

7     Salwan Public School    

This school was able to involve even children from the junior section in the Audit. A professional horticulturist helped them identify almost all the plant species in the campus. The schoolis also conducting an experiment on three varieties of earthworms to find their suitability for vermicomposting.


Eco- Logical Schools
Government School,Chilla Village, Delhi

It was the initiative of Mr Sunehri Lal, the eco club coordinator, who borroed money from teh school’s Vidyalaya Kalyan Samiti and used it to put up a few tap water harvesting structures in the school. Earlier, all the water used to go down the drain but now it is used to water the flower beds. "The idea really clicked, when I first heard about it in the Green Schools Programme Teachers' Training Programme. I came back and implemented it".


Interestingly, this school imparts special ecological training to its support staff. The sample answersheet here, belongs to one of the security guards in the school. The school holds classes on weekends and actually gives holiday homework assignments to these adult students. Ms Sheetal Bagati coordinated the Green Schools Programme in the school.

8      Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya    
     Sardhana, Meerut, U.P.

It was one of the first schools to send us a complete Green Schools Report. The only Navodaya to figure in the list of top 20, this school sent us a comprehensive energy audit of the school. Mr N.P Singh coordinated the programme here.

9     Sister Nivedita S K V    
     Defence Colony, New Delhi

The only government school in Delhi to feature in the top 20, this was one of the few schools where the waste audit was conducted by scientific measurement of waste, using a spring balance. Ms Neena Singh coordinated the programme in the school.

10     Delhi Public School    

The students of this school literally ‘harassed’ the administrative staff to get inputs for the Green Schools audit. The students' team here is very involved in community work, not only within the school, but also in the neighbourhood. It conducts street plays, and tends the park nearby. Ms Meena Khanna coordinated the programme. the school.


       The Green Schools Festival      

The venue wore a festive look on 27 November, 2006, when students and teachers from Delhi and the rest of India gathered to acknowledge and award the best among the Green Schools. Professor Krishna Kumar, Director, NCERT, gave away the prizes to the top performers. "Do away with the text books .

The use of hands and feet to learn is the best learning", he said, while addressing the colourful audience, the age group of which ranged from 10 to 60!. In fact, that is the basic mantra of all Green Schools! A photogallery and five exhibit stalls had been put up to showcase all the behind -the-scene actions, that had taken place in various schools while the first batch of Green Schools kids did their audit. May their tribe increase!!!

Snap shots of the award ceremony




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