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Green Teachers of Today: Towards a Green Generation of Indonesia

A seminar and workshop by PCI with the mission of promoting better environmental education

With the current condition of the earth, it has become increasingly important that we teach the younger generation to understand and care for the environment. It is essential that children nowadays grasp the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle- otherwise the environmental problems they face will just get worse and worse.

Like with any other life skills, teaching children involves all layers of society, namely: their homes, schools, and the community.

The government has recognize that environmental education, formally known as Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup, is an important topic to be taught at schools, and has thus introduced the Adiwiyata program, which conducts environmental education in formal schools. This program was first introduced in 1975 by IKIP Jakarta, limited to only a small number of schools in the capital city. Now, this program is run all over the country, with most public schools actively implementing or at least aware of this program to some level.

Although this is a national program which is regulated by the Ministry of the Environment, a lot of schools are still struggling with it. With that in mind, Project Child Indonesia (PCI) held a seminar and workshop titled “Guru Hijau Jaman Now: Menuju Generasi Indonesia Hijau” (Green Teachers of Today: Towards a Green Generation of Indonesia). In this event, PCI invited 45 elementary school teachers from around Yogyakarta to participate. The seminar invited 3 speakers: a representative from the Center of Environmental Studies UGM, and headmasters from SDN Bhayangkara Yogyakarta and SDN Giwangan Yogyakarta- both who have much improved the implementation of Adiwiyata in their schools. The seminar  was aimed to provide the teachers with a deeper understanding of the urgency of environmental education, and also the basics of Adiwiyata implementation. The workshop was held as a focus group discussion (FGD) which was geared towards understanding the teachers’ perception of the Adiwiyata program. The aim was to gather insight from the teachers which could be used as feedback to the Environment Agency who runs the program.

From the FGD, we understood that most teachers still found the Adiwiyata program challenging. Most teachers generally understand that environmental education is important, but translating that into classroom activities for elementary children is tough. Even though the government has provided guidelines for the curriculum, they feel that it is not specific enough and it very much requires the teachers to be creative and to actively search for ideas and materials for the class. Since most elementary school teachers do not have a formal background in environmental education, this becomes a big challenge. Another problem is that not all teachers have received the guideline or necessary information to effectively deliver the program. While some teachers are able to find different ways of integrating the material in their everyday lessons, some teachers have never even read the lesson plan for the Adiwiyata Program.

The seminar and workshop was able to provide the teachers with a space to learn from each other and share their troubles. Although the Adiwiyata Program has much potential to be a program that will have a significant impact towards the future of the environment and the next generation of Indonesians, a lot of work still needs to be done. We hope that this short experience will motivate the teachers to better implement the Adiwiyata Program, while also being a reminder for the government to improve their planning and systems related to this program.

Investment in Health and Nutrients is Investment in Education

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“Education is an important instrument of peace and development.”

Education has always been the key role in the development of human race and civilization, through the refinement of collective ideas that is learned and relearned through education. Advancement of economic and social progress has always been ascribed to the abundant stock of knowledge that nations have. To ensure that progress is kept going, education is important to be developed and improved.

The first Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) Conference of Education Ministers that was attended by education ministers from the member states of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) reiterated the importance of education. Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwajiri on his opening address of ISESCO Conference of Education Ministers on 27 October 2016 in Tunis, Tunisia stressed that education is an important instrument of peace and development. ISESCO is just one of the organization that stresses the urgency of developing and improving education.

Off the many strategies to develop education, there is one way that might not cross our minds before, which is quality meals for children at school age. Children, being at their critical age of their growth need quality meals that packed off with good nutrients so that their growth will not be hindered. Especially with the robust activities that children are involved, through play or learn, high quality meals are urgent.

In Indonesia, children are rather prone to double burden nutrients problem, nutrient deprived or nutrient excess. Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) conducted in 2010 found that among 6-12 years old children, 4.6% are categorized very thin, 7.6% thin, 78.6% normal, and 9.2% overweight. Stunting growth are also found in children, with 15.1% are categorized as very short while 20% are short. These statistics should be worrying as not just the health of Indonesian children are concerned, but also concerning their education.

Investment in quality meals is an investment in education for schoolchildren. Because if children are not healthy and deprived of good nutrients, then schools cannot function efficiently as a place of learning. Children need quality meals with good nutrients in order to develop well and perform better in learning. Problems with health and good nutrients can hinder learning process.

World Food Programme (WFP) acknowledged the importance of quality meals for children, and linked it with the improvement of education. WFP proposed the program of school feeding, where in schools children are provided with quality meals. WFP listed at least five Power of School feeding. School feeding will improve the nutrients for children that will be helpful for their health, learning, and morbidity. School feeding will also keep children in schools, and also help those who are vulnerable to leaving schools such as girls and children with disabilities. School feeding also acts as a value transfer of healthy lifestyle and diet. School feeding can be a platform for wider socio-economic benefits.

Thus investment in health and nutrients in schools is urgent in Indonesia. Several steps have been taken but needed to reinvigorated, steps that can be taken not just by governments, but by schools, non governmental organization, parents, or anyone. School feeding as World Food Programme has done and campaigned for is one of the steps. Another step is Usaha Kesehatan Sekolah program that was made in collaboration by four ministries in Indonesia.

First step for providing quality foods to schoolchildren is to provide them with quality drinking water and proper sanitation in school. Project Child has created a participatory project and has installed drinking water filters at 24 schools around Yogyakarta to make safe and affordable drinking water available for over 3000 primary school students. Half of these schools are located in the region of Pacitan, a small Town near the coast of Jawa. These schools even have to deal with harder conditions because the drinking water is often contaminated and the structures for a reliable water access are not available. The first step Project Child took after they came up with the idea for the DWP (Drinking Water Program) was to do the necessary research in conjunction with the University of Pforzheim to gather information on the availability of drinking water and the current drinking water system in Indonesia. The cooperation will be continuing throughout the year to measure the project impact.

To create a sustainable program Project Child came up with the idea to create the first “drinking water committee”. At every school two teachers, two parents and one member of project child form this committee. They give their input from the start of the drinking water filter installation and are responsible for the project throughout its process. This helps to adjust the program at every school to fit the local and individual requirements regarding the sourcing of water and the collection of payments. Further this grants Project Child the possibility to start an educational program at the schools, which includes topics regarding environmental causes.

You can help by donating for the installation of the drinking water filter to make it available to more schools.

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