Green citizens of tomorrow

for a better world

Green citizens of tomorrow

The recent climate prediction models paint a bleak picture of our future on this 4.54-billion-old planet: climate change is going to affect the production of major crops like maize, wheat and rice. Rising sea levels will make way for more incidents of storms and flooding. Rising heat, on the other hand, will claim many more lives than the previous years. Believe it or not, things are changing and we are headed for the worst.

We don’t want a future in which, we are all wearing gas masks, treading in waste, suffering from an environmentally-induced ailment, losing our homes to
rising sea levels and storms, do we? What’s the solution you ask? Well, to answer that,
allow me to take you into the green world of eco-soldiers, where tiny little hands are working hard to ensure a better future.

Friends of the earth
Located in the tiny village of Kannayakanakatte in Kudligi taluk of Ballari district is a green school that believes in the power of five elements of nature – water, air, energy, health and hygiene. A tri-coloured gate welcomes you to the lush green campus of the Government Higher Primary School. Taking a walk around a variety of fruit-bearing trees, flowering plants, coconut trees and sandalwood trees, one cannot help but feel that they are in a farm instead of a school.

Shivaputra Goud, the headmaster, puts the school’s efforts into perspective, “In existence since 1995, this school imparts eco-friendly values to the young minds. We take out regular awareness processions in the village. We installed energy-saving CFL bulbs in all the village homes and even in the streetlights. The major attraction of our green school is the eco-friendly toilet which is maintained by both the teachers and the students.”
The sight of various vegetables growing in the garden is endearing and the fact that they are all utilised for the preparation of daily meals in the school makes me all the more happy. Another fascinating aspect of the campus is the solar power generation unit. A commendable feat in itself, the unit makes the maximum utilisation of the tropical weather and saves big on conventional energy.

The students are aware of the present-day water woes and follow all possible water conservation methods. In order to use the groundwater wisely, the students have installed drip irrigation entities for all the plants in the campus. All 171 students and six teachers actively participate in the activities. Recycling all biodegradable waste as manure, the school proves its mettle in self-reliance. Every Independence Day, the school even gives out 50 coconut plants to villagers.

Now, let’s head to Sneha School in Sullia taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, where similar efforts are bearing fruits. Situated on a small hillock, this school has many stories to tell. Chandrashekar Damle, the president of the school sheds light on its inception, “Established in 1996, Sneha school was the realisation of a common dream of ‘holistic education’ by a group of friends. Hence the name Sneha (friendship).”

Spread across four acres, with one acre specifically dedicated to a thriving forest, this school believes that for the all-round development of a child, all aspects of
learning are necessary. While one corner of the school has an ingenious rainwater harvesting system, the other corner is dotted with an impressive medicinal
garden. Apart from 250 students and 15 teachers, the campus is home to more than 83 types of trees, 81 varieties of shrubs, 62 varieties of flowers, 57 varieties of creepers and seven varieties of roots.

Every monsoon, there is a huge water run-off from the surrounding hills. The school has built trenches and other percolation structures to conserve this water. This has helped replenish the underground water level and make the school self-sufficient in water.
The medicinal garden is a treat to the eyes with neatly-lined rows of herbs and medicinal plants. Making maximum utilisation of the garden, the school prepares a herbal drink, kashaaya, which is given to the students regularly. But you notice a peculiar thing. Not a single child wears a uniform. “Nature doesn’t wear a uniform, does it? Our students resemble the varied shades of environment,” avers Chandrashekar.

Learning about the varied plants and trees in the campus is an important part of every child’s daily schedule and details of the plants are displayed in the arboretum. The school marks every Vanamahotsava with exchange programmes and plantation drives.

Cleanliness rates high on the school’s priority list. Every day, batches of students ensure the neatness of their surroundings and have learnt to avoid plastic waste.

Keshava Prasanna, an enthusiastic student, who just finished his 10th standard, celebrates the eco-friendly principles of the school. He says, “All of us here take part in the eco-friendly activities of the school. Every day, we water the plants in our campus and clean the dead leaves and fallen branches regularly as we like to keep the campus neat.” Suma, a 10th standard  student, agrees and says, “Besides watering, we also identify all kinds of plants and trees in the school. Thanks to the education, I can proudly say that I know a variety of medicinal plants and herbs besides other plants.” Stressing on the importance of starting early, Chandrashekar says, “These kids are the future citizens. We need to teach them to live responsibly and in accordance with the principles of
nature. You wouldn’t believe it, but these kids are greatly interested in this field. When they are out there in the garden, their enthusiasm is palpable. Moreover, indulging in such eco-friendly activities builds social relationships amongst the young ones.”

Seeds of hope
When I ask the headmaster of the Government Lower Primary School in Rampura, Maddur about his school’s popularity as an eco-friendly unit, he points at the numerous blooming plants and trees dotting the campus. Plants of fruits, flowers and vegetables occupy prime positions, emanating an enthralling visual appeal. Considering the plants to be a part of their family, the school has given names to the growing green entities. “Every
student is given the responsibility of one plant and she ensures its survival,” says
B C Puttaswamy, the headmaster.

From a two-roomed tiled structure 25 years ago to a 10-roomed modern unit
today, the school has come a long way. Bunches of fruits like guava, banana,
papaya, pomegranate and chikoo hanging from their trees gives you the feel of a farm. Adding to the taste of the scrumptious meals of the school are the freshly-grown veggies and herbs from the vegetable garden – tomato, brinjal, ladies finger, drumsticks, spinach, coriander et al. Giving the precious resource of water prime importance, the school has
employed drip irrigation and also many collection pits to store the excess run-off. “Cleanliness is very important to our living and we ensure that the students get the basic lessons,” says Puttaswamy. The school gifts a plant to each student every year on Environment Day.

All the three schools have been recognised as Parisara Mitra Shale, by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) under its green initiative to encourage eco-friendly schools in the State. Yet another Environment Day has gone by. It’s time we put things into perspective and leave greener imprints on our home planet.

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