PH schools vie for Southeast Asia’s most eco-friendly learning institutions

Two Philippine schools are vying to be the most eco-friendly schools among member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Dubinan Elementary School in Santiago City, Isabela and the Ateneo de Davao University’s High School Unit in Davao City will represent the country in the 2015 ASEAN Eco-Schools Awards for elementary and high school categories, to be held from July 29 to 30 in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

The two schools were national champions in the 2013 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools organized by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Organized by the Government of Myanmar, in partnership with the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund and the ASEAN Secretariat, the 2015 ASEAN Eco-Schools Awards seeks to recognize learning institutions that demonstrate values of environmental sustainability and practices and carry out eco-friendly school policies, teaching programs and practices for the benefit of the school and surrounding communities.

This year’s competition was in line with the ASEAN Environment Year 2015 with the theme, “Empowering the Youth for a Green ASEAN Community.”

The criteria for the awards are divided into four: school policy and administration; teaching modules and learning activities; facilities and environmental practices; and partnership and community outreach.

The Dubinan Elementary School has been nominated for its strong obedience to and enforcement of environmental policies crafted to sustain the government’s programs, projects and activities.

Its teachers impart lessons on environmental protection, waste management, water and electricity conservation, anti-smoking and other pro-environment programs. Their lesson plans are being checked and a series of classroom observation and supervision are conducted to monitor the integration of environmental themes in the school’s curriculum.

Teachers were also trained on the different strategies and methods in teaching and in the preparation of instructional materials suitable to the environmental lessons and to the needs of the pupils.

Meanwhile, the Ateneo de Davao University-High School Unit’s environmental mission is to engage in ecosystems conservation, protection of biodiversity and promotion of renewable energy.

The school’s environmental program named “Ecoteneo” makes the vision of a green and sustainable campus and students living a happy, healthy and ecological lifestyle. It concurs with Ateneo’s slogan, which is “One with the Earth, at peace with humanity, in reconciliation with God.”

In a related development, the EMB announced that the regional and national screening processes for the 2015 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools are ongoing.

The competition is a direct response to Republic Act No. 9512, or the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008. It is co-sponsored by the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, Smart Communications Inc., Nestlé Philippines Inc., One Meralco Foundation Inc., and Land Bank of the Philippines.

For further details about the national search, please contact the National Program Secretariat at the EMB’s Environmental Education and Information Division at telefax numbers 9284674 and 3765610; E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Websites: http://www.emb.gov.ph and http://www.sustainableschools.ph. ### 

 

 

DENR bares new information drive vs. air pollution

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is urging the public to continue supporting government efforts to reduce air pollution as it launched a new public information campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care and use of clean fuel.

At the 7th Annual Clean Air Forum held on Tuesday at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Quezon City, DENR Undersecretary and concurrent Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Jonas Leones announced the launching of Perwisyong Usok! Pigilancampaign, with the tagline, Konting Abala, Laking Ginhawa.

“Konting Abala refers to simple acts like proper vehicle maintenance and the use of clean fuel, while Laking Ginhawa refers to benefits like less harmful smoke being emitted by vehicles, which in turn, cause less health and financial burdens. We believe that summing up doing even little acts, goes a long way,” Leones said.

Leones said the campaign will escalate in the coming months with more newspaper advertisements, billboards and even celebrity endorsement.

“We seek the support of our various government organizations, civil society, private sector, academe and media, to own this campaign, implement it in our respective spheres, expand dissemination of the same, use the campaign symbols, to enjoin more sectors’ awareness about it,” he said.

He added: “We want to strengthen appreciation of our people of the need to achieve clean air, so commitment becomes strong, and enforcement becomes effective.”

A joint undertaking by the DENR and the Partnership for Clean Air Inc., the Clean Air Forum was established to review on a yearly basis the progress of Republic Act No. 8749, or the Philippine Clean Air Act. This year’s theme is “Towards Identifying the Economic Benefits of Clean Air: A Call to Action.”

Leones said the DENR has been zeroing in on motor vehicles, which contribute about 70 to 80 percent of air pollution in Metro Manila.

“The number of vehicles plying the streets of Metro Manila has truly increased, especially in this day and age where purchasing vehicles has been made easier and more affordable. But along with the convenience that it brings, we sometimes overlook the major inconvenience, which is air pollution,” Leones said.

According to the DENR official, it is imperative to know not only the health benefits but also the economic benefits of having clean air.

“Using cleaner fuel, for example, not only cleans the air. It is also very economic since it prolongs the life of your engine, reducing maintenance costs. Breathing cleaner air also reduces the risk of diseases like lung cancer,” Leones said.

“Some of us may think of these as short-term benefits, but in the long run, having cleaner air, is not just good for our health, but also for our pockets. The time and effort we invest in cleaning the air are definitely worth it.”

He said that strong public support is crucial in ensuring the success of anti-air pollution programs being implemented by various government agencies, with help from civil society organizations, the private sector, the academe, student leaders and other sectors.

Leones also shared the following initiatives undertaken by the DENR and its partners in combating air pollution:

· Installation of non-stop automated air quality monitoring stations in each of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila. Real time results are available online at the EMB’s website.

· Cancellation of the licenses of 28 erring private emission testing centers and suspension of 49 others. Show cause orders had also been issued against 165 emission testing centers.

· Expansion of roadside anti-smoke belching operations in major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, especially at night where air pollution rates are high.

· Strict monitoring of ongoing major construction projects for total suspended particulates or pollutants that have adverse effects like respiratory diseases, when inhaled.

· Issuance of a DENR administrative order that requires oil companies to ensure the availability of Euro 4 fuels by July 1, 2015, and compliance with Euro 4 emission standards by all new vehicles by 2016. Euro 4 fuels contain less sulfur content and emit less harmful substances in the air. # 

 

 

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