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The Green School Initiative by Tata Steel observes International Earth Day

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Starting with 1970, this April 22 marks the 51st Earth Day aptly themed ‘Restore our Earth’. Today, in the wake of the global pandemic, as countries and communities around the world come together to rebuild their economies, it is more important than ever before to focus on a ‘green and sustainable recovery’. The ‘people’ form the core to bring about this transformation. Simply acknowledging the climate crisis is not enough, the next generation will need the knowledge and the skills to participate in the green economy.
Chanakya Chaudhary, Vice President, Corporate Services, Tata Steel on the occasion of the Earth Day said, “Many momentous events have happened on Earth day. In 2017, on the eve of Earth Day, Tata Steel and TERI envisioned ‘The Green School’ Project which focusses on augmenting the capacities of the next generation, our students, through activity-based teaching programmes on four broad environmental themes: water, energy, biodiversity and forest, waste, linking it with climate change.  The project was initially launched in 10 schools for classes 6 to 8 in remote Tata Steel operational areas across Jharkhand and Odisha. Today, in Phase III, the project has reached out to 34 schools and aims to expand its footprint in the coming years.
These schools have been instrumental in setting new benchmarks for school leadership in the field of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). As part of The Green School, a need assessment (pre and post) is conducted every year which helps in the effective development of project modules. Various activities such as hands-on activities, sensitisation workshops, capacity building programmes, intra- and inter-school competitions, review of curriculum, teachers training programmes, informative resource material etc., were initiated to enhance the learning process.
Apart from introducing the ideas of environmental sustainability to the students and training teachers, the main objective of the Green School is to make the community aware of eco-friendly practices. These 34 schools undertook several activities as part of the Community Impact Project (CIP) to inculcate sustainable values and consciousness among students and the community around them. This included cleaning water pond and awareness campaigns on water conservation by schools in Jharia; save the Bokaro river by organising cleanliness drives, sensitisation of local communities to avoid dumping of waste in the river by West Bokaro schools; the revival of water bodies and awareness generation in the community to address issues related to water pollution in Sona river by Noamundi schools; restoration of natural springs by Sukinda schools, rallies and door-to-door campaigns on water conservation by Khondbond schools; and energy audits and adoption of energy-efficient lighting appliances by the community around Jajpur schools.
In Phase III, despite the country coming to a halt in the aftermath of the global pandemic, the project activities continued unabated through online and social media platforms and gained momentum in the months that followed. The Green School planned self-learning series where the students were provided with a lot of information on environment issues through videos, facts and figures and interesting anecdotes to protect the environment. They not only shared their learnings with their schoolmates through regular online platforms but also acted as peer educators and shared them with students across states through webinars, social media, and closed WhatsApp groups, etc. set up under the project.
As part of the Community Impact Projects during Phase III, the schools in Angul involved panchayats of six villages to perform tasks related to waste management, highlighting three concepts under waste management i.e. Refuse, Segregate and Reuse. Initiatives like `Say no to Plastic Bags’, segregation of wet and dry waste and reuse of waste materials to make 350 products ranging from pen stands, doormats, baskets, etc. were undertaken. The students of Jajpur, West Bokaro and Jharia decided to work on Bird’s Nest making and installing in the local trees. More than 1050 bird’s nests and 1200 bird feeders were prepared and installed at different places in their locality. To inculcate the habits of plant conservation and to develop the student’s affection towards the plants, students collected the seeds of various fruits and vegetables they use at homes and formed 270 seed collection banks. These seeds were planted in the kitchen gardens or distributed to others with a request to take care of the plants. Students from Joda and Noamundi created 300 herbal and 42 medicinal gardens and prepared more than 3000 paper and cloth bags and which were distributed among the community people to spread the awareness against the use of plastic bags.
The Green School made its mark internationally with representation at several international events of repute like the 9th ESD International Forum on Sejahtera held on December 13, 2017, at Tongyeong, the Republic of Korea, COP24 and COP25 held at Katowice, Poland, in 2018 and Madrid in 2019, respectively.  The project was also recommended by Indian National Commission for Co-operation with UNESCO (INCCU) for the Wenhui Award for Educational Innovation 2018. The project learnings were displayed at TERI’s flagship event – the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) 2019 and 2020. Recently, the ‘Green School’ was recognised as a replicable model for environment education in local communities and was shared by Think20 (T20) as a policy recommendation at the G20 Summit in November 2020.
So far, The Green School has involved more than 18000 students, 400+ teachers, connected around more than 36000 parents and touched more than two lakh community members through various touchpoints. This Earth Day, as Green School students spread the message of environment conservation within their homes and neighbourhood, as responsible corporate citizens, let us take the pledge to consume responsibly and make efforts every day to restore our only planet.”

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