Reaching the teachers
OVER 300 teachers from 177 schools recently attended 11 workshops across the island to discuss the Schools’ Environment Programme (SEP).
SEP is a joint project of two non-governmental organisations, the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust JCDT).
The programme requires schools to carry out activities in four areas – managing garbage, greening of the school, forming an environmental club and environmental research. This year the particular focus was on solid waste management.
Annmarie Rodriques, planning and research manager of the Metropolitan Parks and Markets (MPM), addressed the workshop in Kingston.
She pointed out that solid waste includes domestic, municipal, commercial, institutional and industrial waste. Lack of attention to this waste will have an adverse effect on the environment, resulting in disease outbreaks and losses to persons and property.
She cited the weak legislation and poor enforcement capabilities that currently exist in the country, with fines for littering being as low as $500.
She noted that more public education was needed and MPM endorsed that the education should begin in schools.
With regard to SEP, the MPM manager said, “As an organisation charged with the responsibility of managing waste, MPM has worked closely with schools in facilitating and developing good practices. It is the young who will reverse negative trends and establish patterns of behaviour for future generations to follow.”
She further stated, “The involvement of teachers and students as partners in this process is crucial to achieving the success we strive for as we seek to ensure that our schools and environment remain litter-free and beautiful.”
Teachers shared their ideas on the challenges they have in implementing the SEP and sought ways to integrate environmental education into the curriculum.
Pearl Harrison, vice-principal at Ewarton High School, said the sessions were meaningful and interesting.
“I will be including all this information in my teaching and club activities, and I feel sure that if all schools are exposed to environmental education, schools, communities and the country will enjoy long-term benefits,” said the vice-principal.
Another important aspect of the workshops was the enhancement of the partnership between Recycle for Life and the schools. This company arranges for the collection of PET plastic bottles from schools which are registered with them.
At present, SEP is the largest environmental education programme in Jamaica. Schools receive supervision and assistance from 15-non-governmental organisations and are encouraged to implement their activities through incentives including prizes at parish and national competitions, fund-raising ventures – the sale of organic vegetables and crafts from recyclable material.
Funding comes from donor agencies including the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), the British High Commission, Canada’s Green Fund, the ENACT Programme and Save The Children (UK); and corporate Jamaica.
Carlette Falloon, SEP’s programme director, praised the donors for their continued assistance.
“We however, appeal to other companies to work with JET and JCDT in ensuring that environmental awareness and action become an integral part of school life,” she said.