Nurturing the climate-smart generation, one school at a time
“I have learned about waste management and practiced climate-resilient agriculture, and now I feel confident to share this knowledge with my family”.
May Kimleang is 16 years old. She studies in grade 10 at Preah Kou Higher Secondary School in Stung Treng province, in the North of Cambodia.
Kimleang’s school is one 10 eco-schools supported by the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA) programme to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation in their curriculum and activities. These eco-schools have environmentally-friendly policies and administrative procedures, deliver teaching modules about environmental and climate change issues, implement practical demonstration activities including eco-friendly facilities, and conduct outreach to local communities.
Cambodia has been actively promoting eco-schools in line with ASEAN’s Environmental Education Action Plan, with joint leadership from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MOEYS) and the Ministry of Environment (MOE).
The country is also regularly ranked among the top ten countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change, and schools are an essential part of Cambodia’s climate change response. Not only do they equip Cambodia’s new generations with the skills and values that will support a sustainable development path, they can also serve as safe places during extreme weather events, where shelter, clean water and sanitation facilities can be accessed.
Kimleang is a member of the school’s eco-club, which plans and conducts activities related to environmental and climate change issues, including learning sessions, campaigns on waste management, practising climate-resilient home gardening, and organizing tree plantations.
In addition to learning, practice and advocacy within the community, Kimleang also says the eco-school programme helped to make her school itself more resilient. “Before, we had limited access to water during the dry season and female students had to ask the neighbours to use their latrines. With the new pond supported by the programme and the better water storage, all girls are now very happy to have access to functioning latrines all-year round”. Kimleang is also proud of the tree planting programme, which provides shade during the hottest hours.
MOEYS is keen to expand the eco-school programme as part of its child-friendly school policy. Already, teaching materials on climate change, which have been tested in eco-schools for Grades 10-12, are being rolled out nationwide. Key points have also been incorporated in the outline of the new national curriculum, which is due to be updated in 2019.