By believing in the power of sustainable education, Diana Mc Caulay has reached more than 400,00 students all over Jamaica thanks to her schools’ environment programme ! Together with teachers, they empower youth through in schools sustainable development awareness.
SEP is the longest-running program of its kind in Jamaica, having been delivered in over 350 Jamaican schools, with an estimated reach of over 400,000 students and 700 teachers for over two decades. It is the Jamaica Environment Trust’s (JET’s) flagship environmental education initiative, and at its height, was Jamaica’s largest environmental education program.
SEP addresses the generally low levels of environmental awareness among Jamaican teachers and students and provides on the ground examples of good environmental stewardship. Participating schools use a whole school approach to carry out campus-based activities in four main areas: managing garbage, greening of school grounds, strengthening or establishing an environmental club and environmental research. The program also encourages the development, monitoring and ongoing evaluation of environmental action plans by JET, and introduces environmental issues via workshops for teachers and students. SEP encourages schools to place focus on specific environmental thematic areas for campus-based activities and promotes project-based learning. SEP also promotes environmental outreach to the wider school and local community and celebrates schools’ achievements via an annual awards ceremony.
When SEP began in 1997, there were generally low levels of environmental awareness among Jamaicans. It was determined that environmental education should be taught through schools and infused into the curriculum.
Both students and teachers experienced increased environmental awareness and a greater appreciation for the natural environment. With increased environmental awareness and appreciation comes improved abilities to lobby for better environmental conditions (garbage collection, recycling initiatives, air pollution, etc).
Surrounding communities often benefit from the schools’ involvement in SEP through outreach projects. Schools infuse more environmental education into the schools’ curricula when involved with SEP. There is also increased stakeholder participation (local NGOs, private organizations, parents, community members. SEP schools often participate in other environmentally focused projects.
Each school community including parents and the wider community have been impacted positively through activities on the school compound and through outreach programmes. Both urban and rural populations have benefitted from this programme.
SEP has had challenges with securing long-term funding to make the project more sustainable. JET has been able to continue to engage existing donors/sponsors and actively seeks new donors/partners.
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