“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between Man and Nature shall not be broken.” Leo Tolstoy
The current pandemic has been a huge wake-up call to humanity; we must protect our planet or face the consequences! However, amidst this crisis, we have also seen Mother Nature bloom, proving we need to mend our ways and take action to help preserve the environment.
The Aga Khan Education Service, India (AKES,I) took this wake-up call seriously and decided to celebrate Environment Week (8-12 June) and teach staff, students and parents about the importance and necessity of safeguarding our planet. The staff were encouraged to make a “Save my Mother Nature pledge”, which saw 122 staff vowing to take action to conserve natural resources, follow the Three R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle), and stop using plastic and toxic materials. They also promised to sow a plant on birthdays and anniversaries, reduce their carbon footprint, stop food wastage, use eco-friendly products and spread awareness about protecting the environment. The teaching, non-teaching and senior management staff also followed a week-long dress code where they wore natural earth colours, including brown, blue, yellow, white and green, to show their support for the cause.
Environment Week coincided with the first week of the new academic session, so teachers ensured their remote learning lessons featured integrated activities that engage students with environmental themes:
Aga Khan School, Mundra instilled the importance of the Three R’s among its students. Pre-primary children recycled mud pots to grow new plants, and primary and secondary students reused discarded materials to create awareness posters, slogans and action messages.
Diamond Jubilee High School, Mumbai held online science lessons about the environment. Grade III students were shown presentations and, instead of their regular school prayer, recited prayers for the environment. Grade VII students were taught about the importance of water in their chemistry class, with students pledging to conserve water in their households, and Grade X students wore green in support of Mother Nature during their remote class on 9 June.
Dorm parents and students at Aga Khan Hostel, Hyderabad celebrated Environment Week with enthusiasm. Students participated remotely by making thought-provoking drawings and paintings and sharing them with their dorm parents over WhatsApp. Staff and their families planted saplings at the hostel and promised to nurture the plants so that they grow and bloom.
Diamond Jubilee High School, Hyderabad created beautiful posters showcasing their concerns about the environment, using the well-known quote, “The Earth is what we all have in common”, by Wendell Berry and spread awareness of preventive measures with primary students.
The Human Resources and Communication teams also collaborated to share information with staff about biodiversity, this year’s theme, and promoted 10 ways to be eco-friendly and create a sustainable environment.
Ms Nazia Siraj Qureshi, a teacher from Diamond Jubilee High School for Girls, Mumbai shared the simple best practice she follows daily. She cuts off the top of milk packets and sachets “instead of cutting triangles at the corners, because it is [more] difficult to find and recycle those small triangular pieces”.
Ms Malikah Awadia, Regional Accountant, promised to reduce food wastage: “I pledge to stop food wastage and share my excess food with people in need around my vicinity.”
A teacher from Platinum Jubilee High School, Warangal, Ms Kavita Chawla, shared her promise: “I wish to plant at least five saplings on my birthday and anniversary and to stop using plastic.”
Amidst all professional and personal commitments, the AKES,I community continues to remember and support Mother Earth and her well-being.
This text was adapted from an article published on the AKES website.