| Schools take lead in adapting to climate change - 22.07.2010
The Ministry of Education used the popularity of the recent National Show, which attracted a large part of the country’s population, to launch its rainwater harvesting project.
This project, which was piloted at Belonie school in 2008, has now been extended to 10 schools.
Under its theme – Demonstrating adaptation to climate change in schools: water harvesting – the stall attracted a large number of people, from the very young to the elderly, from the general public to the country’s leaders and decision-makers.
During the three-day fair, school children and teachers tried to raise awareness of climate change and show how, through rainwater harvesting, our small islands can adapt to climate change.
The project has four main aims: to harvest rainwater to meet the needs of selected schools and to reduce their water bills; to educate school children on the impact of climate change and water resources, and methods used for adaptation; to raise awareness among the general public on the impact of climate change on Seychelles, and rain harvesting as a means of adaptation to water problems caused by climate change; and to share the schools’ experience of water harvesting with other organisations.
Of the 10 schools involved in the project, eight are fully sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme CC DARE (Climate Change and Development Adaptation by Reducing Vulnerability) project – Takamaka, Baie Lazare and Anse Royale secondary schools, Anse Boileau primary, Grand Anse Mahe, Belonie, La Digue and Grand Anse Praslin.
Baie Ste Anne and Praslin secondary are co-funded by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF).
The Ministry of Education, with the support of the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC), Sustainability for Seychelles and the Sea Level Rise Foundation, is also helping the 10 schools carry out the project.
Already other local donors have shown an interest, and the Environmental Education Unit is seeking funding to extend the project to other schools.
People who visited the National Show praised the schools for such an “innovative” project, which they said was well presented and displayed. Some were seeking information on how they will get help if they wish to start a similar project at home. Students and teachers also gave information on climate change and tried to get the public’s views on the issue.
It was evident that local people are concerned about the impact of climate change, and some spoke of the need to work together to fight against this, the world’s greatest threat.
The following Tuesday the project was even mentioned during National Assembly sessions, to show how such a sustainable project will need the support of the government, for example with tax concessions, so it can be carried out successfully.
Students and teachers at the show did bring to the public’s attention that the cost of materials and installation is one of their main challenges. However, they said the schools will, in the long term, benefit socially, economically and environmentally.
Water that is collected and stored will be mainly used to maintain the schools’ biodiversity – for example their gardens – and for toilets and cleaning.
Schools taking part in the project are getting full support from their managers, who are doing their utmost to see that the project is carried out as planned. In some schools parents are also doing their share; for example, at Grand Anse Mahe, the Parents Teachers Association is taking the lead in all installation work.
Apart from installing the tanks and collecting water, schools are also designing action plans on climate change and will try to integrate the issue into their school programmes. In all schools taking part, personal development sessions are being used to build the capacity of teachers on climate change and its impact on our small islands.
What started as a small Science Fair project in one school is now being spread across our country – a clear example of how small-scale educational research can help in the country’s national development plan.
The Ministry of Education would like to thank all its partners for their support and calls on other institutions, private businesses and organisations to join in helping schools carry out their projects.