Gobar Times
Green Neighbourhood

CSE round table discusses schools’ role in environmental policy making

New Delhi:  January 19, 2012

Should a school’s role be maximised as a resource for the community and neighbourhood? A round table conference organised by the Environment Education Unit (EEU) of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) discussed the critically relevant viewpoint. The agenda for the discussion was ‘Should schools lobby for policy changes for the neighbourhood?’  

The panelists included heads of schools; Joint Secretary Environment, Ministry of Environment and Forests; Senior Scientific Officer, Delhi Government’s Department of Environment; senior officials from the Ministry of Human Resource and Development; as well as representatives from independent environment initiatives.

CSE round table discusses schools’ role in environmental policy making

The conference was a perfect platform for all the stakeholders. The heads of schools shared details of the ongoing efforts as well as the challenges faced by them while working with the community. “In our branch in Aravali, which has a semi-urban, semi-rural setting, working in the neighbourhood was a serious challenge at first. We were treated as aliens.

Paramjit Kaur Narang
Ms Paramjit Kaur Narang

It got worse because our students, with their typical urbane attitude believed that they could ‘teach’ the villagers a thing or two about sustainable living.

But things got cleared pretty soon, when they realized how environmentally savvy these people were. Then there was great interaction and even greater learning,” said Ms Paramjit Kaur Narang, Director, Pathways World School.

The ‘neighbourhood’ was represented in the form of an online survey ‘I, me, my environment’ conducted by the EEU.

B M S Rathore
Mr B M S Rathore

Mr B M S Rathore, Joint Secretary Environment, Ministry of Environment and Forests made a very valid observation. “How we define the neighbourhood is critical. All of us sitting here today need to understand the importance of leadership of children around social and environmental issues. They make the neighbourhood. In many rural areas, it is the students who bring about a huge attitudinal change in the teachers and not vice versa,” he said.

Dr B C Sabata

Dr B C Sabata, Senior Scientific Officer, Delhi Government, Department of Environment, New Delhi was forthcoming and offered answers on behalf of the government, the facilitator for any change to see the light of the day. “The Delhi Chief Minister has decided to dedicate 2012 to a green and clean Delhi. We are working towards sensitising schools to play an active role. Those facing any difficulty can reach out directly to me,” he said. Dr Sabata can be reached directly at  ecoclub_delhigovernment@yahoo.com.


The vibrant discussion had a well-defined outcome. All the participants agreed on the fact that students have to assume leadership for any changes to happen in the neighbourhood. “It is evident from our discussion today that ‘student initiatives’ that aim not just to create ‘awareness’ but a ‘connect’ are the need of the hour.

Sumita Dasgupta
Sumita Dasgupta

Any effort by a school will be successful only if the students become a ‘part of the community’ and not mere ‘advisors’,” said Sumita Dasgupta, Programme Director, Environment Education Unit, Centre for Science and Environment.

All the participants have graciously agreed to be on the Advisory Panelof CSE’s new book on the anvil ‘How Green is my Neighbourhood’.

Ms Annie Koshi
Ms Annie Koshi
St Mary’s School

“I am not surprised by the survey results. Most members of the neighbourhood are forthcoming when contacted for environmental initiatives such as garbage segregation or paper collection. But only as long as we are not impeaching on their practices—talk to them about water scarcity and see the resistance. No one wants to be told how to use the water in their house.”

Anita Sawhney
Anita Sawhney,
Deepalya School

“Our school is located in a rehabilitation area and over the years, we have won the confidence of the neighbourhood community. People come to us with their problems ranging from social menaces such as matka (road-side betting by men) to health issues as lice infestation. They come to us for solutions but only as long as it is in their interest.”


*Participate in the ongoing I, me, my environment  survey  


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CSE round table discusses schools’ role in environmental policy making