The Greening Our Schools – an Initiative aimed at reducing carbon footprint in the Turks and Caicos Islands, was launched on May 30 at the Gustarvus Lightbourne Complex in Providenciales.
The initiative has garnered both the support of the Private and Public Sector. Sole energy provider FortisTCI is a flagship sponsor and supporter of the programme, along with other partners.
The Greening Our Schools initiative has been spearheaded by the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources (DECR) and the TCI Education Department.
The primary aim is to encourage sustainable approaches and environmental management on school campuses by applying innovative mechanisms.
Elsiann Delancy, Personal Development Officer at the Department of Education said the Greening Our Schools Initiative looks at four core themes: Waste Management, Electricity Conservation, Water Conservation and Biodiversity.
“In the past we have heard about waste management, we have heard about conserving electricity, water conservation, but what Greening Our Schools is doing is putting all of these themes in one programme - one initiative - so that we can use agents of change, which are our students, to champion the cause,” Delancy explained.
She pointed out that Greening Our Schools was one way by the Turks and Caicos Islands to cut carbon.
“We are working on sustainable measures to help us work towards tackling climate change. Within each theme there is a Keep of Promise Indicator (KPI) that the students have to reach or meet in order to be recognized as a green school.
“An example of that would be for waste management. They have to show that there is a 10 percent reduction in filled waste bins. For Electricity Conservation, there should be a 10 percent reduction in their electricity bill,” she further explained
Delancy further noted that site visits and record-keeping would be used to document the data collected from the schools in order to arrive at a conclusion as to whether those school would have met the targets. She pointed out also that schools would be required to upload their light and water bills starting at the end of May this year, and by the end of May 2014, a tabulation would be made to determine the schools to certified green schools.
She said it is advisable that a school takes on one project per year.
For her part, Amy Avenant, the DECR Outreach and Education Coordinator told reporters that her department was very excited to partner with the Department of Education on the project because they believe it was not only a great opportunity for young people to get involved in their community but to start thinking about Green Initiatives.
“These initiatives are critical because climate change is real for us as a small island developing state,” Avenant said. “We are at the forefront of climate change impact, and we have got to get the kids resilient and thinking in creative ways as to how to move forward in the future and adapt to environmental conditions that are changing before our very eyes.”
She described the response from the schools as incredible, pointing out that everyone was very excited to partnering with the project.
“I think it was very positive to see that the kids are excited about the programme, that the teachers are willing to get behind it. And so, we are very excited and encouraged by the responses that we have received from schools and of course from the private sector partnering with us, the public sector.
“We are not doing this alone…we have got a lot of support behind us, and that is incredibly invaluable,” she stated.
Avenant asserted that one does not have to be an environmentalists in the making to become part of the Greening Our Schools.
“What I want to encourage is the creative approach, and that means in other words, you do not have to necessarily care for the environment. If you like art, if you like to write, if you like to like to create or lead a group of people, there is space for you in this project. And that is what we are definitely getting the students to realize. I think that as the project develops, there will be need for project managers, there will be need for communications officers…all of these kinds of little roles will pop up in this project,” Avenant declared.
She pointed out that the project is not designed to become a one-hit wonder or a flash in the pan, but would be here for the long haul.
“The biggest thing is it is due to be a sustainable project, and so, it is not something that we want to see end here next year…it is going to now continue, and with that it means that it could require students to develop skills that they would have to step into if they take pride in a thing, and something that they strive to taking over, like anyone who is interested in journalism taking ever a school’s newspaper or becomes an editor…it is the same idea here,” she said.