Carbon neutral schools by the students, for the students

Prakrati Mitra is a campaign which facilitates collaboration of organisations working for environment protection in ensuring that schools in Uttar Pradesh become ‘carbon neutral’. The efforts are aimed at neutralising the carbon emissions of the schools by planting trees and conserving energy.

Prabhat MisraPrabhat Misra   3 March 2023 8:14 AM GMT

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Carbon neutral schools by the students, for the students

The last Prakrati Mitra campaign was conducted in June-October 2022, in which teachers and students ensured eco-friendly measures which transformed more than 500 schools into carbon neutral schools. Photos by arrangement

Ever heard of carbon neutral schools? The dream to have such schools is being realised with the efforts of a campaign known as ‘Prakrati Mitra’(Friends of Nature). The campaign is run by non-governmental organisations namely Mission Shikshan Samvad, Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh, and Red Tape Movement which work for checking deforestation in the country.

Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or ensuring measures that simply cancel out carbon emissions altogether.

In the carbon neutral schools, every year, teachers and students actively participate in the Prakrati Mitra campaign and Prakrati Mitra is the designated person who is responsible for protecting the local ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity.

Teachers and students are taking following measures to safeguard environment:

  • Zero use of fossil fuels on school campuses.
  • Ban on unsustainable logging on school campuses.
  • Energy conservation at individual level.
  • Conservation of parks and wetlands
  • Water Conservation to save every drop of water especially through Rainwater Harvesting, and soak pits.
  • Plantation of local species to conserve local biodiversity.
  • Care After Plantation (CAP) in schools.
  • Promoting vehicle pooling and cycling in schools by teachers and students.
  • Ensuring yoga and sports activities for the well-being of students and teachers.
  • Awareness about waste management and sanitation in every school.
  • Participation of parents, village council and media in maintaining the sustainability and green areas in schools.

A mission to unify conservation efforts

Mission Shikshan Samvad was established in 2015 to bring all creative and positive thinking teachers working for conserving the environment under an umbrella campaign.

The primary objective was to establish dialogue among the teachers to share their innovative experience in the schools and to make teaching interesting, to educate the adults through schools in the rural areas for ensuring better living standards and concern for the environment, and to raise awareness and inculcate a sense of responsibility towards nature conservation.

In 2016, Mission Shikshan Samvad was associated with Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh which was used to conduct educational and environmental activities in the Etawah district.

At that time the Teachers Club was running the Clean Campus, Green Campus campaign and it was achieving positive results. Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh had set a goal of environmental protection by adopting the Red Tape Movement which was run by the then District Savings Officer Prabhat Misra in the Etawah district. Also, Mission Shikshan Samwad worked towards the inclusion of the Teachers Club and Red Tape Movement.

The last Prakrati Mitra campaign was conducted in June-October 2022, in which teachers and students ensured eco-friendly measures which transformed more than 500 schools into carbon neutral schools.

Under this campaign, teachers and students were requested to plant trees and ensure their protection within and around their school premises. This program was conducted in three phases.

Planting, caring, conserving

During the first phase, pits for plantation were dug in the school campus while during the second phase, plantation was done in the dug up pits purpose and during third phase, the Red Tape Movement helped in the organisation of an anti-deforestation drive which was organised to make the students take an oath to save the existing trees in the campus.

It also involved efforts to create awareness about environment protection in the nearby areas with the participation of local villagers. The students and the local residents were asked to take care of planted trees for at-least five years.

Thousands of teachers, students, parents, officials from the education department and public representatives participated in the campaign.

Vimal Kumar, founder of Mission Shikshan Samvad, the coordinator of the programme shares that once school students develop the habit of planting trees, growing and protecting them, then governments and institutions will not have to work hard to ensure nature’s greenery.

“We believe that when these students will understand the problems related to nature in the classrooms, and participate in the activities of plantation in schools, then surely they will begin to understand their responsibility towards nature. It will inculcate the habit of nature conservation in their villages, localities and homes. They will inspire their family members too,” Kumar says.

Also, Shashibhushan Singh, president of the Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh says that while we cannot change our past, we can change our future.

“In an era of climate change, we have only one choice left. We all have to act to ‘Change Climate Change’ for the sake of a liveable, better and a sustainable future,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, Avanindra Jadaun, general secretary of Teachers Club Uttar Pradesh and coordinator of Mission Shikshan Samvad said that as a result of the eco-friendly efforts, more than 1000 schools have been made carbon neutral and completely green within two years.

“This became possible with great cooperation of the chiefs of village councils (pradhans), villagers, students and their parents, government departments, and local leaders. I am thankful to the Red Tape Movement for the vision and actions suggested to transform schools into carbon neutral ones,”

He further stated that governments around the world may be worried about serious issues like global warming and climate change but common citizens still do not have much knowledge about these subjects, nor do they have awareness about environmental problems.

“Through a large group of teachers, it is our endeavour to share the information and solution of these challenges with the general public, and create a sense of responsibility in the minds of the students. If we are successful in motivating people by transforming carbon neutral schools, then millions of people will start taking climate action both at home and in the society at large. Any effort of the government can be successful only when the general public accepts it voluntarily without any external compulsion,” he added.

Teachers and students will endeavour to maintain these efforts forever and will hopefully increase the number of carbon neutral schools in near future.

Sanyogita, principal of the Primary School Adalpur in Moradabad district and administrator of the Mission Shikshan Samvad in the district said that in basic education schools, children participate enthusiastically in activities related to the environment.

“Now the children take care of the plants of the school responsibly and are also concerned about the environment around their homes. We hope that these students will go ahead and discharge their responsibility in environmental balance. Carbon neutral program is a very positive effort of Mission Shikshan Samvad,” the principal said.

Ravindra Kumar, principal of Primary School Bhitari, Kashi Vidyapeeth, Varanasi and administrator in charge of the Mission Shikshan Samvad Uttar Pradesh said that the enthusiastic participation of teachers and students in environmental activities instils a positive hope in us.

“In the last five years, the number of teachers and students joining this joint campaign from each district of Uttar Pradesh is continuously increasing. Although we had set a target of 500 schools in 2022, which we have also been successful, when the administrators of different districts shared photographs of schools with us through Twitter, it seems that about 5,000 schools have become completely green. In the next phase (in 2023), we will urge more schools to bring carbon emissions down to zero by adopting climate action measures to reduce carbon emissions,” Kumar said.

Group discussions to raise awareness

The mission also involved discussion going on all over the world on carbon emissions reduction. Mission Shikshan Samvad considers it important that it could make some positive efforts on this with thousands of teachers associated with it.

Therefore, myself Prabhat Mishra, founder of Red Tape Movement, Avnindra Jadaun, general secretary of Teachers Club, and Vimal Kumar, founder of Mission Shikshan Samvad, planned to transform schools into green and carbon neutral schools. So far, more than 2 dozen online dialogue programs have been organised by Mission Shikshan Samvad in which thousands of teachers have participated.

Thousands of teachers, students, parents, officials from the education department and public representatives participated in the campaign.

Every year parents, students and rural masses in thousands of schools participate in the campaign, tie red tapes on tree trunks, and swear to save nature. Teachers, students, parents, and villagers do plantations and take care of saplings.

We should continuously try to make this world better for all the living beings so that whenever we leave this planet as individuals then we should not regret at all that while living on this earth, we did nothing to save nature; while we could do that and could make planet earth habitable for generations to come.

The achievements of the Prakrati Mitra are much better than ‘Project Oasis’ in Paris (France). Project Oasis is a plan to convert the concrete schoolyards of Paris into ‘islands of cool’ to provide healthy air during extreme heat, and to bring down temperatures across the city. All of Paris’ 800 schools are expected to be transformed into green spaces by 2040.

In contrast, so far, the Prakrati Mitra campaign has transformed 1,000 schools into carbon neutral ones within two years. Teachers and students will endeavour to maintain these efforts forever and will hopefully increase the number of carbon neutral schools in near future.

The author is the founder of Red Tape Movement which works for preventing deforestation. Views are personal.

Carbon Emission #Air pollution Schools Environment 

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