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Many educators who are concerned about the environment feel like “lone voices” in their schools. They may want to make a difference in the school and community, but without the cooperation of their colleagues and school governance structures, most of their efforts are limited to what they can do in their own classrooms.

Environmental learning and action become far more effective when they are “whole school” processes. For this to happen, all parts of the school community need to be informed and supportive, including the principal, school governing body,

teaching and non-teaching staff, learners and members of the community.

One of the programmes encouraging sustainable whole-school development is Eco-Schools. This is an international programme which South Africa joined in 2003.

What Eco-Schools do Schools set up an environmental committee or working group, and develop an environmental policy and action plan for the school, which they monitor regularly. The Eco-Schools project:

  • Encourages teachers to focus on the environment in the curriculum;

  • Supports environmental action projects in the school and community;

  • Ensures that the environment features in school policies and

management plans.

How to become an Eco-School

Your school first registers with Eco-Schools <www.wildlifesociety.org.za/eduecoschools.htm>. During the course of the year you compile a portfolio of evidence showing how your school is making a difference

, in terms of environmental governance, management and learning.

Your portfolio will be assessed at the end of the year. If it meets the criteria, your school will be awarded the green

Eco-Schools flag, which you may fly for the following year.

To retain Eco-Schools status, schools are required to register each year and continue showing evidence of improvement.

An Eco-School story In Module Ten you can read about Levana Primary School, the only school in the Western Cape to have achieved

Eco-Schools status every year since the programme was piloted in 2003.

In this section we read how another Cape Town Eco-School, Crestway High School, has been trying to conserve a wetland next to their school.


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