Eco-Schools around the world positively impact the environments and communities around them. Specifically, Eco-Schools impact Uganda through student, parental and community education and engagement.
The Eco-Schools program was developed within Agenda 21 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. Agenda 21’s objective was to develop a plan of global action concerning every area that carries a human impact on the environment. The three goals of the objective were to reorient education towards sustainable development, increase public awareness and promote training.
Through the implementation of the Eco-Schools program, the United Nations believed that they could achieve these objectives by creating easy access to environmental and development education beginning with young students and continuing education into adulthood.
Eco-Schools Impact Uganda Through Three Programs
Eco-Schools are structured through three programs: the Seven Steps Framework, the Eco-Schools Themes and Assessment for the Green Flag.
The Seven Steps Framework sets guidelines to ensure success within Eco-Schools. However, the Eco-Schools program recognizes that each school is unique and the framework should be adjusted to fit their individual needs. Concluding with producing an Eco-Code, this framework encourages schools to pursue a reliable and realistic course of action.
To provide guidance and a grounded purpose, Eco-Schools choose a theme that aligns with their objective. There are 12 main themes, including global citizenship, climate change and water.
Once a school has successfully implemented the program for two years by completing the seven steps and working through their theme, they can apply to be awarded the Green Flag. An initial assessment takes place to determine if the school met qualifications to be awarded their first Green Flag, and then yearly assessments take place.
In Uganda, Eco-Schools were first implemented in 2006. In the Eco-Schools Best Practice Report, Uganda showed a wide range of improvement in environmental engagement and education within their students, parents and communities.
Effects on Student Learning
The report noted that dropout rates at Eco-Schools were lower than those at non-Eco-Schools. In addition, they learned that student learning and comprehension increased through the final examination. For example, in St. Kagwa Primary School, attendance increased from 902 to 969 students in 2016, accompanied by an increased student pass rate, from 93 student graduates to 129.
Eco-Schools impact Uganda by empowering their learners and building the qualities for successful future leaders by teaching responsibility and commitment.
Encouraging Parental Involvement
By training parents on the program as well as students, Eco-Schools empowered parents to involve themselves in their child’s learning environment. In general, the report found that parents showed more enthusiasm after they understood the Eco-Schools program, which led them to encourage their children to pursue a quality education.
Muguta Moses, head teacher at Rukondo Primary School, stated, “In my opinion, the most significant change is that it’s enhanced parental involvement in the school. Parents have come to realize their roles and responsibilities in the education of their children.”
Community Cooperation and Support
Eco-Schools impact Uganda through providing the opportunity for the community to engage with their work. Micro-projects are monitored not only through the schools, but also on a district level. Through these projects, water, sanitation, health and access to better nutrition have improved. Eco-Schools also implement projects that the community is involved with directly, such as planning community flower and vegetable gardens. By positively impacting citizens outside of the schools, students create a connection to the community.
The Eco-Schools program guides schools through structured plans while also holding them accountable for their projects and operations. Eco-Schools impact Uganda and other countries through educating, increasing environmental interest and growing the quality of life in their communities.
By 2019, Uganda aims to have 15 Eco-Schools implemented, resulting in 120,167 trees planted, 2,000 wood-saving stoves manufactured, 2,560 farm families reached and 200 Eco-Enterprises created.
– Anne-Marie Maher