Delhi, Kerala schools corner India’s ‘greenest’ school awards
New Delhi, December 18, 2008: St Paul’s School, in Delhi’s Hauz Khas, had made it to the list in 2007 as well. But this year, it managed to really ‘break the mould’. And cornered the first position in the ‘Changemakers’ category of CSE’s Gobar Times Green Schools Awards.
In the other category, dubbed ‘New Schools’, the top prize went to another outstanding institution: the P T Chacko Memorial High School in Kunduthode village, Kozhikode district, Kerala.
These schools, and a few others, were conferred the 2008 Gobar Times Green Schools Awards at a ceremony here today by a panel comprising of Professor Krishna Kumar, director, NCERT; noted agricultural scientist Dr M S Swaminathan; and R H Khwaja, additional secretary, Union ministry of environment and forests.
The awards, instituted by CSE, are being given out since 2006 under its Green Schools Programme (GSP). This year, CSE has increased the number of categories under which it confers the awards. Thus, while ‘New Schools’ include institutions which joined the Programme for the first time, the category ‘Changemakers’ is for schools which have been with the Programme for over a year and have driven change within their campuses and neighbourhoods.
In 2007, St Paul’s had received mild applause for having done an efficient audit of its natural resources and their management. It was harvesting rainwater, reusing its wastewater, biocomposting, and managing solid waste on the school’s premises.
In 2008, the school added a unique initiative to its list of achievements. It started advocating the use of public and eco-friendly transport as a matter of policy. Earlier, personal vehicles were the preferred mode of mobility for commuting to and from the school. In 2008, with active cooperation from neighbouring residents, the school went all out for promoting its school transport (CNG buses), cycling and walking as alternative modes.
And the move has paid off. Says Sumita Dasgupta, coordinator of the Green Schools Programme: “In one year, about 8 per cent of the school’s children who were using vehicular transport have shifted to walking.”
Among the other schools that have made it to the ‘Changemakers’ list for the year are Pinnacle School in Panchsheel Enclave (New Delhi); Salwan Public School, Gurgaon; Delhi Public School, Rohini (Delhi); Kerala Public School, Mango (Jamshedpur); and the Government Senior Secondary School, Daramdim (Sikkim) (see Winning schools below).
The P T Chacko Memorial High School in Kunduthode, which has won top honours in the ‘New Schools’ category, is a “model water manager”, according to Dasgupta. A tiny rural school with less than 400 students, the school’s steps have been gigantic. It does rainwater harvesting as an actual source of supply, reuses all its wastewater, has a 100 per cent record in sanitation, and does regular water quality checks – in short, it promotes excellent and sustainable natural resource management practices.
“P T Chacko Memorial High School has been awarded for its all-round performance – it’s an institution that devises its own techniques, sets its own targets and doggedly goes ahead to achieve them,” says Dasgupta.
Among the other notable newcomers this year are Ambuja Public School in Rajasthan’s Pali district; Anubhuti School, Jalgaon (Maharashtra); and Amity International School in Noida (see Winning schools below).
The other awardees
Another new category instituted this year is the ‘Biradari award’, which has been conferred jointly to two Delhi schools – Sanskriti in Chanakyapuri and Sri Ram School in Vasant Vihar. These awards have been instituted for recognising the efforts of schools in working in partnership with communities which are outside the school’s compound. Sanskriti, for instance, has been working for some time now with ragpickers in Delhi, while Sri Ram School is helping the Moghiya community of Ranathambhore look for alternative livelihoods.
The ‘Best Teacher’s Team’ award this year has gone to Vishwa Bharati Public School in Noida once again (it had won in 2007), while Deepalaya School in Kalkaji (Delhi) has cornered the ‘Best Student’s Team’ award.
High points: water, waste and mobility
Under the Green Schools Programme, schools across India carry out rigorous self-audit on environmental practices within their own premises, following a set of guidelines outlined in a manual published by CSE, titled How Green is my School? A do-it-yourself manual. The schools use the manual in their environmental studies programmes and as an activity in the eco-clubs.
Almost all the participating and shortlisted schools this year have shown exemplary performance in terms of managing their water, wastes and mobility. About 90 per cent of them have installed rainwater harvesting systems; 100 per cent are reusing all or some of their water. Ninety-five per cent of the schools recycle paper and compost organic waste; 90 per cent of the waste is recycled. And 50 per cent of the schools have shown a marked shift to modes of mass transport and bicycles etc for commuting.
The programme is rapidly catching the imagination of schools across the country. From 1,200 in 2006, GSP is now reaching out and covering 5,500 schools across the country. The rural-urban ratio has almost tripled. Of the 20 schools shortlisted in 2006, only three were rural or semi-urban; this number has climbed since then and stands at eight this year. Also, more than 50 per cent schools from 2006 have repeated the audit in 2008.
THE WINNING SCHOOLS
Changemakers: The Top Three
St Paul’s School, Hauz Khas, New Delhi – Sarita Jain – 9910916321
Pinnacle School, Panchsheel Enclave, New Delhi – Neelam – 9811560809
Salwan Public School, Gurgaon – Sheetal Bagati – 9718807391
New Schools: The Top Three
P T Chacko Memorial High School, Kunduthode (Kerala) – Sister Jonsy – 09961192480
Ambuja Public School, Pali (Rajasthan) – Rajiv Chouhan – 09928080345
Anubhuti School, Jalgaon (Maharashtra) – U V Rao – 09422776971