SUSTAINABLE, ECO-FRIENDLY SCHOOLS
THE North Central Elementary School in Barangay Bonuan Gueset in Dagupan City was adjudged winner in the 2019 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools (Elementary Level) and will be awarded on Nov. 22 in Quezon City.
Maricris Ferrer, school principal, said she is thankful that the advocacy they are imparting to their students and the community is reaping fruits for a cleaner, greener and healthier environment and the world to live in.
The contest was jointly undertaken by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, Smart Communications Inc., Nestle Philippines, Inc. and One Meralco Foundation, Inc.
Karen Ann Pacpaco, officer-in-charge- chief, Environmental Education and Information Division of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau, said school automatically takes part in the Global Search for Sustainable School Project, under under the Sustainable Lifestyles and Education program of the One Planet Network.
The competition has evolved and does not focus mainly on recycling but on the totality of environmental domains like water, energy and electricity, pollution prevention, biodiversity, climate change and safety or disaster management.
Inside the school campus, one could see innovations created by teachers, students, parents and their community join hands for an eco-friendly learning institution, among them the rainwater harvesting system to promote self-sufficiency and help conserve water. The rains are harvested from a roof, collected in gutters that channel the water into downspouts and into the storage vessel composed of big plastic tanks and drums.
Each classroom has reusable building blocks produced from solid non-biodegradable wastes placed into plastic bottles to a required weight. These can be packed with other non-biodegradable recyclables that are toxic to the environment like Styrofoam, wires, plastic wrappers. Almost 3,600 eco-bricks have been collected at the school.
Two classrooms have alternative energy through the “Isang Litrong Liwanag”, an alternative source of light that uses solar power from recycled plastic bottles. And in one corner is a vertical/horizontal garden to maximize the school’s remaining small land area as classrooms dot the almost one-hectare school complex.
In another section is the aquaponics where tilapia and hito as well as plants are raised in recirculating eco-system. The fish waste provides nutrients for the plants while the bacteria and plants help clean the water for fish. Another small room is also devoted to a mushroom facility where fruiting bags of mushroom can be found. One area is also for mangrove nursery to restore marine fish habitats.
The school’s forest park is also a home for fruit-bearing trees like atis, langka, santol and lemon. There are about one hundred big trees inside the school that give it a forest ambiance.
Even the school’s signage for its Gulayan sa Paaralan and the school name itself are made of recycled materials made of empty soda bottles. A total of 1,680 empty green plastic bottles were used in these signages.
The harvests in their Gulayan sa Paaralan are used for daily meals of students in their school-based feeding program, Ferrer said. Trash bins were also made of empty green and yellow plastic bottles of soda and tea.
Another room of the school has life vests of more than 300 pieces for emergency and disaster use of students and teachers.
The school has 2,211 student population with almost 40 teachers. “We hope to impart our advocacy to our students not only when they are in school but more so when they go home,” Ferrer said.
She added that the challenge is how to make this campaign sustainable, with or without the contest. (PhilStar Wire Service/ECV)
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