Cambodia: Environmental Protection Starts at School

Phnom Penh, 05. November 2018

Better behaviour is based on new knowledge and rethinking. Children and youths in particular are open-minded to this. In Cambodia, Johanniter supports its local partner organisation Save Cambodia Wildlife (SCW) in setting up eco-clubs in rural schools. Where a few months ago the school grounds were lined with rubbish and refuse, teachers and pupils ensure now clean conditions.

The bell rings at Boss Leav primary school in the province of Kratie. 25 pupils fill the classroom, attentive and enthusiastic about one theme: protecting their environment. They belong to one of two eco-clubs of the school, which are part of a comprehensive Johanniter project in Cambodia. Vulnerable arming families are supported by integrated agriculture and income-generating activities. In addition, they are sensitised to the consequences of climate change for their food security. All these measures together are intended to make them more resilient to the threat of poverty and loss of their livelihoods.

The Eco-Clubs improve knowledge about the environment, the importance of natural resources and biological diversity. Children and young people are deliberately involved in activities to raise awareness. As school children are effective multipliers in sharing knowledge with their families and the broader community, the clubs play a significant role in behaviour change processes. Boss Leav's clubs join 36 other eco-clubs that will be established by the end of 2018 in the project target areas of the provinces of Stung Treng and Kratie.

The primary school Boss Leav had already founded their clubs with children aged 8 to 13 years in August 2017. The 25 members are each led by two focus teachers who have participated in trainings on topics such as nutrition, biodiversity and ecosystems, forest and wildlife resources, waste management and hand washing. They shared their knowledge with the young eco-club members, who have since applied it to concrete environmental activities. They plant trees, collect waste, recycle materials and organise an annual environmental day for their school and villages.

Recycled Tires Used for Playground

Old tires have been painted and are now part of the playground at Boss Leav. Photo: Erika Piñeros

"I want to protect the environment and we can teach our brothers and sisters," says a nine-year-old student. At Boss Leav's school you can see that. Prior to the project, rubbish including plastic was burned in the filed next to the playground, garbage was carelessly thrown away. Now recycling bins for rubbish are in use on the school premises. In early 2018 the school built a new playground for the children, linking waste management to recycling as evident in the recycled tires used in the playground construction.

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