Thais to become a Sustainable School

CERES in Thailand – An extract from The Phuket News: Green Links Near the Incinerator

The aim of teaching environmental sustainability to the younger generation brought three diverse parties to the Srinagarindra The Princess Mother School (SWPK) at Saphan Hin, south of Phuket Town, last week to sign a memorandum of understanding in the middle of the mangroves.
Large paintings of the late Princess Mother who, like her son HM the King, was a strong advocate of a sustainable environment, seemed to smile her approval at the agreement-signing ceremony being held in the school hall.

Inside the hall, students practised singing Michael Jackson’s Heal the World song for the ceremony.
Jovial Aussie Dr Peter Harris, of Planet Savers, which helps schools to “go carbon-neutral”, received a small grant from the Australian-Thai Institute of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to set up this inter-country school environmental project.

He has helped to bring together Eric Bottomley, of CERES Community Environment Park and urban farm in Brunswick in Melbourne, Steve Lingard, international director of Billanook College, a private school near the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria and a sister school to SWPK, and SWPK Director Nachai Keimnipatt for last Wednesday’s (July 6) agreement.

The MOU makes the Thai school part of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) which seeks to explore nature through real-life learning experiences and to improve schools’ management of resources such as energy, waste, water, biodiversity and landscape design. The vision is for schools and their communities to become sustainable.

The Thai project plans to help expand the environmental hub already existing at the SWPK school, using the Australian networks, so that Australian students can also learn about this Thai public school.
Mr Bottomley explains that his environmental park is working with 600 Australian schools to spread the message of sustainability in the environment.

Billanook College belongs to Round Square international schools which encourage international exchanges between students to promote their work in the community and their own personal growth. The Australian college students come every year during the holidays to help in an orphanage in Mae Hong Son in the north.
Another driving force in the project is Benjalak Ungsuapchua, an energetic English teacher at the school. The teacher explains that her school students have been very active in protecting the mangrove areas surrounding the school located at this one edge of the island, planting mangrove seedlings and collecting rubbish from their shore line.

Ms Benjalak echoes the concern of other project members about the quality of air breathed by students and staff, as classrooms are almost in the shadow of the towering central municipal incinerator that burns around 250 tonnes of the island’s garbage every day.

A second incinerator, being built next to the first one, will very soon double the amount of rubbish incinerated each day. During this particular afternoon, a pervasive burnt smell is strong in the air, and it is affecting her chest, she says.

What the Thai students can do now, by liaising with their Australian counterparts from their new environmental learning centre, is no doubt a new challenge for them.
But the project is hopeful that by providing this international link, all the students involved will largely drive their own efforts at learning to achieve a sustainable environment for their own future.

[By Norachai Thavisin ,The Phuket News, Friday July 15th 2011]


Thais to a Sustainable School

The Princess Mother School Phuket already has a mission statement on its wall far more advanced than many AuSSI schools. ‘To achieve world class standards in education, preserve the King’s policies and conserve Thai culture and the environment’

Part of the king’s policies are the ‘king’s wisdom’ which emphasises the importance of careful use of resources, appropriate development and ecology. Not bad having the king on side! The school is keen to promote English as the tool for its sustainability work and is looking forward to making connections with AuSSI schools so that students and teachers can share experiences about sustainable development in our beautiful region.

School grounds cover 11 hectares, half of these being mangroves. Community environment days are held in the mangroves and monthly replanting work is done by the students. Much of the science and environment curricula is based on these highly valued mangroves.

We are helping the school with resource assessments. Does this look familiar? Many of your students have done the Planet Saver student assisted audit using these digital thermometers. The students are assessing water, energy and waste but the assessment so far with waste suggests this school of 2000+ is a Zero Waste School where pig farmers, electronic groups, and plastic scavengers take away all the waste and pay the school. How about that as a model!

We were very happy to sign an MoU with a school like this but totally unprepared for the scale of the event. It seemed comparable to the opening ceremony of the Olympics. We read our names on the great banner of welcome and joined about 200 guests, the school band, the Australian consul and a few other dignitaries. There were large power point projections and tropical fruit and drinks for refreshment and many speeches before the Director and I signed off in front of 50 flashing paparazzi.

I have to say it was quite a contrast to the signing of an MoU in Australia. We are lucky to have the principal, his/her dog and a prep. student in attendance! I suppose we are far more blase this side of the black stump. And yet it is an important commitment to seriously work for sustainability. We can learn something from the Thai excitement.

[Eric Bottomley, CERES Statewide Co-ordinator]

By Princess Mother School| 2017-11-06T17:20:32+00:00 April 27th, 2013|Uncategorised|0 Comments