PH eco-school champs gear up for ASEAN Awards

Manila, Philippines - Students and faculties of Iliranan Elementary School in Negros Occidental and the Camarines Sur National High School in Naga City have something to look forward to in the coming days, aside from the opening of classes, and that is to represent the country in the 2012 ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Eco-Schools Awards to be held on July 17-18, 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This was announced by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, following a report by Malaysia in the 4th Meeting of ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education held May 29-30, 2012 in Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic.

"This early I would like to congratulate the students and faculty members of these two schools for championing environmental protection in their campuses. Teaching the kids to do simple things like tree planting and the 3Rs of solid waste management will go a long way in founding the bedrock of an environment-conscious nation," Paje said.

He also said the international recognition would serve as an additional incentive for schools in the country to level up their respective environmental education program.

The 2012 ASEAN Eco-Schools Awards is organized by the Government of Malaysia in partnership with Hanns-Seidel Foundation, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Japan-ASEAN Integrated Fund (JAIF) and the ASEAN Secretariat.

The 2012 ASEAN Eco-Schools Awards seeks to recognize institutions of learning at the primary and secondary level that demonstrates values of environmental sustainability practices and carries out environmentally-friendly school policies, teaching programs and practices for the benefit of the school and surrounding communities.

The criteria for the awards are divided into four categories: (1) School Policy and Administration; (2) Teaching Modules and Learning Activities; (3) Facilities and Environmental Practices and (4) Partnership and Community Outreach.

Further, the awarding ceremony is in line with the declaration of 2012 as the ASEAN Year for the Environment, with the theme "Environmental Awareness through Eco-Schools".

A public school in San Carlos City, Iliranan Elementary School won the grand prize in last year's National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools for being an active implementer of the Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The school earned the judges' votes for its efforts in training not only the pupils, but also their parents and the local community to reduce, reuse, recycle and segregate wastes, known in solid waste management as the 3Rs.

To generate extra funds for their school activities, they sell recyclable items they collect from the students themselves to the junkshops while the biodegradable wastes are utilized as organic fertilizers to plants and vegetable gardens within their campus.

The school likewise strictly imposes environmental policies such as the no-to-open burning and open dumping policy, no smoking, no nailing and illegal cutting of trees and to conserve water, just to name a few.

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