Schools lead the way in environmental sustainability

Now entering its 15th year, the SEC-StarHub School Green Awards (SGA) sees a consistent year-on-year increase in schools participating in Singapore’s leading school environmental programme. Since 2000, participation has increased more than 10-fold from 28 to 376 educational institutions this year. The bulk of the increase comes from pre-schools and schools for students with special needs, which reflects the all-inclusive spirit of the SGA as well as the importance that every individual plays in taking responsibility for the environment.

Administered by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and sponsored by StarHub, the SGA is aimed at educating and inspiring learners of all ages on issues such as waste minimisation, resource conservation and the greening of the school grounds.

This year, the 376 schools saved a total of 7,380,000 kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity, 372,000 m3 (cubic metre) of water and 92,000 reams of paper. These savings in resource utilisation is equivalent to 149 Olympic-sized swimming pools, powering 18,450 4-room HDB flats for one month and saving 3,519 trees. A total of 45,254.22 kg of ewaste was also collected, representing an increase of 9 per cent from the previous year. With realistic targets set and pursued, the programme has already seen an estimated reduction of 4 per cent, 11 per cent and 15 per cent in electricity, paper and water respectively, from the previous year.

“The schools receiving the Award have taken innovative steps to educate students about environmental stewardship and civic responsibility, and their work is a critical part of creating a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future. Thanks to their creative approaches to environmental education, students are developing a greater connection to the world around them – a knack that will benefit young people throughout their lives as the environment belongs to them and they are stewards of it. At SEC, we are inspired by the contributions of both students and teachers, and they have taught us more than a thing or two about caring for the environment and conserving precious resources,” said Mr Edwin Seah, Executive Director of SEC.

“Everyone, from large corporations to the youngest students, has a part to play in the care and conservation of our natural environment,” affirmed Mr Tan Tong Hai, Chief Executive Officer, StarHub. “Being an environmentally conscious company, StarHub is naturally an ardent supporter of the SGA. We are happy that, thanks to the Awards, youth in Singapore are proactively taking care of our most precious resource—our planet—through efforts such as recycling electronic waste (e-waste) through the RENEW (REcycling Nation’s Electronic Waste) programme.”

The RENEW programme is a community initiative by StarHub, with partners DHL and TES-AMM, to provide individual members of the public with avenues to recycle e-waste, one of the most toxic types of waste known to man. RENEW bins, which are provided by StarHub to interested locations, can be found at 102 educational institutions across Singapore. 2

One school that has championed e-waste recycling is Lotus Sustained Achievement Award recipient, Chung Cheng High School (Main). Despite being a new participant of the RENEW programme, Chung Cheng High School (Main) is one of the top 10 schools which collected the highest amount of e-waste.

“Achieving the Lotus Sustained Achievement Award is an affirmation that the school is moving in the right direction and will motivate us to continue our efforts in resource conservation and environmental education. E-waste recycling is one area which we believe has a long-term impact on environmental sustainability and we are heartened that we have harnessed the collective effort of students, staff and parents in the school’s green efforts. We look forward to the continual support of SEC to partner with us in our green efforts and environmental education to engender a sustainable future for Singapore,” said Mr Pang Choon How, Principal of Chung Cheng High School (Main).

Based on audit results, schools qualify for one of five awards ‐ the Daisy, Palm, Hibiscus, Orchid or the top level Lotus Award. A Lotus Sustained Achievement Award is also given to schools which receive the Lotus Award three times in a row. This year’s SGA saw a 24 per cent increase in the number of schools that achieved the Lotus Sustained Achievement Award – 225 versus 181 in 2014, a reflection of the schools’ continued efforts in striving for environmental excellence in pursuit of the highest tier of the award categories.

The new Daisy Sustained Achievement Award introduced this year is presented to pre-schools for achieving the Daisy Award for three consecutive years. 13 pre-schools clinched this award this year. Kinderland Preschool, Ministry of Education, a recipient of the Daisy Sustained Achievement Award adopted a holistic educational approach by integrating environment to its curriculum and collaborating with parents and the community in its outreach efforts.

“Our Kinderland Integrated Curriculum (KIC) places a lot of emphasis on social and environmental responsibility. Children learn about saving the earth through waste and energy minimisation, upcycling reusable materials and recycling activities. This is done through core lessons as well as parental and community involvement. We believe that children have to start young and be stewards of the 3Rs,” said Mrs Pramadevi, Principal of Kinderland Preschool, Ministry of Education.

On the importance of being all-inclusive in terms of the types of educational institutions, Mr Seah added, “The environment affects everyone from all age groups. Seeing an increase this year in participation from pre-schools and schools for students with special needs says a lot about the impact of SGA and how it is reaching out to a wider academic audience than before.”

This year, students from APSN Tanglin School, a recipient of the Orchid Award, designed the landscape for the awards ceremony stage. Mr Andy Ang, Head Instructor and APSN Tanglin School’s teacher-in-charge for SGA said, “By creating the awareness and providing opportunities for our students to keep the school clean and green, they are becoming more responsible for their actions, with the determination to create a healthy learning environment. Many of the innovative projects are products of many months of hard work as students inspire one another to adopt eco-friendly habits as they spread the “Choose Green, Think Green, Go Green” message.”

Since administering the 3R Awards for the past three years, SEC has seen a 44 per cent increase from 230 to 331 schools participating this year. Integrated to the SGA, the 3R Awards programme is designed to inculcate the values of the 3Rs, “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” in schools. 3 While the SGA is targeted at schools in Singapore, the programme has caught the attention of DAV Centenary Public School from Meerut, India, which received the Orchid Award. This is the second time that a foreign school in India has participated in the SGA.

Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Social and Family Development, officiated the awards ceremony as the Guest-of-Honour and presented the awards at ITE College West.

About the SEC-StarHub School Green Awards

The SEC-StarHub School Green Awards is a simple environmental programme for all schools in Singapore. Students work together in teams to review their school’s environmental efforts and submit a report. Through this, students gain a better understanding on the environmental impact of their actions and gives them the opportunity to participate in programmes to raise awareness within communities and organisations. Based on the results, schools qualify for one of four awards - the Palm, Hibiscus, Orchid or the top level Lotus Award. A Lotus Sustained Achievement Award is given to schools which receive the Lotus Award for at least three times consecutively. Pre-schools qualify for a different award – the Daisy Award, while the Daisy Sustained Achievement Award is given to pre-schools for attaining the Daisy Award three times in a row.

About the Singapore Environment Council

Established in 1995, the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) is an independently managed, non-profit and non-government organisation (NGO). We influence thinking on sustainability issues and coordinate environmental efforts in Singapore.

We are also an approved charity and offer tax exemption to donors. SEC continuously engages all sectors of the community by formulating and executing a range of holistic programmes, such as the Singapore Environmental Achievement Awards, Asian Environmental Journalism Awards, School Green Awards, Singapore Green Labelling Scheme, Project: Eco-Office, Project: Eco-Shop and Project: F&B. In addition, we build a pool of committed volunteers under our Earth Helpers programme.

The SEC has also incorporated a new Training & Education arm to provide the people, public and private sectors with the opportunity to develop awareness, knowledge, skills and tools in order to protect and improve our environment for a sustainable future. Strong partnerships with corporations, government agencies and other NGOs are valued by us. These partnerships are vital for sustaining our programmes, leading to positive action and change. Over the years, SEC has given strength and direction to the environmental movement in Singapore.

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