World Environment Day in Cambodia
Early morning on the 5th of June around 400 student teachers of the Teacher Training Centre in Siem Reap, Cambodia walked along the streets around their college picking up waste, singing slogans, wearing hats saying “reduce plastic bags” and bringing banners stating we should take care of our own environment. It was the start of a successful World Environment Day celebration at one of the Teacher Training Centres that VVOB is working with.
In the week before, the student teachers were encouraged to join in a few competitions: write a song or poem, produce art work, design clothes for a fashion show, all with the environment as theme. They also made teaching aids of re-used materials. Back at the college the student teachers enjoyed the stage performances of the contestants of the variety of competitions. At the end of the afternoon the winner of each competition was announced.
World Environment Day
Each year World Environment Day is celebrated on the 5th of June. It began in 1972 when the United Nations started to stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and encouragement of political attention and action. It is also announced as a day for people to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.
"We have to take care of our environment to stay healthy"
Sophal presenting her art work
Sophal is a 20 year old student teacher at the Teacher Training Centre in Siem Reap. Sophal says she enjoyed World Environment Day. She was one of the contestants who made a drawing on environmental awareness. She will graduate soon and start her job as a primary school teacher in September this year.
"Here at the Teacher Training Centre we have big bins in three different colours to segregate the waste", says Sophal. "Before we didn’t know what to do with our waste. People use a lot of plastic bags and most of the time we burn them. At the practice school where I did my teaching practice last month, they still do that. When I go back there after the holiday to work, I will install the same waste system like we have here at the Teacher Training Centre. The school where I will start working, is in a rural area and I plan to make the bins myself from bamboo.
At the Teacher Training Centre we also have a policy that we are not allowed to bring plastic bags to school so we reduce the usage of plastic bags. These ideas I will definitely bring to my future school. The community will also learn through the children how to deal with waste in a safe way.
It is important for me that the school looks nice when visitors come, but the main reason is the health of the children. We have to take care of our environment to stay healthy", says Sophal.
Environmental Life Skills
Fashion show with clothes made from re-used materials
Celebrating World Environment Day is a good addition to the Environmental Life Skills programme that VVOB Cambodia is working on. This programme aims for Teacher Training Centres of Cambodia to offer improved training in environmental and agricultural life skills to student teachers for primary and secondary education.
Together with a group of five teacher trainers, VVOB developed a new teaching manual for the subject "Environment". The manual was created in good cooperation with the Ministry of Education and is now part of the official curriculum of all Teacher Training Centres in Cambodia. The teaching manual offers up-to-date information about topics like waste and water pollution in Cambodia, the preservation of the forest, biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources. The lessons consist of student-centred teaching activities and provide the future primary school teachers a range of ideas to implement awareness for the environment in their future primary schools.
Waste segregation system
Teaching aids made from re-used materials
During their two years at the Teacher Training Centre, student teachers are also involved in managing a waste segregation system. Organic waste collected from the school grounds and garden, is put on a compost pit. Waste that can be recycled is collected separately. The school earns some money by selling the plastic bottles and cans. Unwanted waste in many places in Cambodia is burned, which causes unhealthy smoke especially when plastic is burned. The unwanted waste from the college is not burned, but collected by a garbage company.
So remember the 5th of June as World Environment Day. But you don’t have to wait for next year’s celebration, as awareness for our environment can and should be celebrated all year around.
By Wanda Prins, Programme Coordinator Life Skills for the SEAL Programme of VVOB Cambodia