Sowing the seeds for eco-living

Sangga showing the regional 2018 Seameo-Japan Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Award that the school won.

THEY are taught how to feed the poultry, make their own fertilisers from food waste and the right way to water the plants.

It is all part of their outdoor activities here at SJKT Sungai Ara.

No wonder most of them are reluctant to leave the school compound even after their classes are over.

Right behind the school is a lush organic farm with four types of banana trees, curry leaves, sugar cane and vegetables such as ladies fingers and brinjals.

On top of that, there are about 30 chickens and turkeys roaming freely in the farm.

Pupils getting upclose with a frog at their school organic farm.
Pupils getting upclose with a frog at their school organic farm.

Believed to be the first sustainable school in Penang, the school recently bagged the regional 2018 Seameo-Japan Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Awards.

SJKT Sungai Ara is also one of the only two schools to have won the award in the category of schools below 250 pupils.

The award is supported by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (Seameo) and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in cooperation with Unesco’s Asia Pacific regional bureau.

Headmaster Sangga Sinnayah, 57, said some of the pupils loved to spend their time in the organic farm after school.

Pupils watering the plants at the organic farm in SJKT Sungai Ara, Penang, after school.
Pupils watering the plants at the organic farm in SJKT Sungai Ara, Penang, after school.

“They would water the plants, feed the poultry, sweep the dried leaves and compost food waste into fertilisers.

“We want to educate them on the importance of reducing waste to a minimum.

“Through these activities, they get closer to the environment and learn to appreciate outdoor activities more,” he said.

Sangga said they also encouraged the pupils to bring home-cooked food but for those who could not, should buy the food from the canteen.

“Titbits and junk food are not allowed in the school compound as they are usually high in sugar and salt,” he said, adding that the school practised nine out of 17 sustainable development goals set by the United Nations.

Raja Rajeshwary (front row, second right) and her fellow schoolmates making eco-bricks using non-biodegradable waste compacted in recycled plastic bottles. — Photos: Zainudin Ahad/The star

The teachers have to include at least one goal a day in the lessons.

“We go for quality education where the pupils are not required to complete their homework, so that they won’t feel stressed up.

“We want them to be happy in school.

“We prefer practical teaching where they can learn the problem- solving skills,” he said.

The school has 130 pupils and 13 teachers.

One of the pupils, Raja Rajeshwary, 12, was spotted making eco-bricks from plastic bottles which are packed tightly with non-biodegradable waste.

“They taught me how to do this during a programme in Balik Pulau.

“We use a lot of plastic bags every day and with eco-bricks, we can put them into good use.

“My friends and I prefer to stay back after school to make eco-bricks which can be used to make chairs or tables,” she said.

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