Wednesday, 03 February 2016 00:00

10 Surakarta Schools Join Eco-mapping

The Education, Youth and Sports Agency (Dikpora) of Surakarta City in Central Java province, in association with GIZ PAKLIM WA3, is introducing eco-mapping to 10 more local high schools with the aim of changing the way young people think about the environment. The eco-mapping process is a student-centered experiential learning approach designed around the Ecomapping© toolbox and a tool for teachers called curricula mapping, which involves putting relevant environmental issues into lessons. The eco-mapping cycle comprises five stages conducted over approximately one year. It will then be repeated and broadened annually, resulting in continuous improvement of the wider school community.  Students from the selected national junior high schools (SMPN) and national senior high schools/vocational high schools (SMA/SMK) are now learning to deal with environmental issues such as waste management, sanitation and energy conservation. A seminar introducing eco-mapping was held at Surakarta Dikpora, attended by headmasters and teachers from the city’s SMPN 1, SMPN 4, SMAN 1, SMP Ursulin, SMAN 6, SMA Batik 1, SMA St. Yosef, SMA Warga, SMPN 8 and SMK 9. Representatives from two previous eco-mapping pilot project schools and the coordinator of the Adiwiyata National Green Schools Program provided insight into the student-centered approach to working for a sustainable school environment. The heads of the local Environmental Agency (BLH) and Dikpora emphasized the schools’ commitment to completing the entire eco-mapping process. Participants received an inspiring success story from the teachers of the two successful pilot schools, who explained how schools could make money by separating waste and selling recyclable materials. Initial environmental audits were held over October 27-29 and November 2-6 at each of the 10 new pilot schools to equip them with skills in identifying environmental problems and generating potential solutions. Five teachers from the former pilot schools provided guidance on eco-mapping. The students keenly participated in identifying their schools’ environmental problems, such as heaped solid waste, stinking unclean toilets, inefficient electricity consumption, and broken infrastructure. They discussed potential solutions and then shared them with the other students. Teachers said eco-mapping is compatible with the character building component of the K-13 education curriculum, which encourages students to speak up and debate. They said this method of learning is encouraging and motivational, as students are now becoming environmental stewards. “This is beyond my expectation, to witness students identifying problems and discovering solutions on their own,” enthused one teacher. The newly involved teachers and students are now able to carry out eco-mapping together to transform their schools into environmentally friendly places. It is hoped that values learned by the students will be shared among their communities to improve environmental conservation.