More schools should create a culture of environmental sustainability: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob exploring the eco-pond and water plants in Mee Toh School's Eco-Trail. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - More schools should adopt sustainability efforts and shape their students to be stewards of the environment, said President Halimah Yacob on Wednesday (April 20).

"Climate action is a pressing issue and is something that cannot be delayed," noted Madam Halimah during a visit to Mee Toh School ahead of Earth Day, which is on April 22.

The primary school in Punggol is one of the four pilot schools under the Ministry of Education's Eco Stewardship Programme announced in March 2021. The other three are Elias Park Primary School, Commonwealth Secondary School, Tampines Secondary School.

However, Mee Toh's sustainability efforts began in 2007, when the school began teaching pupils the 3Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle.

Since then, it introduced an Applied Learning Programme for students which highlights and teaches appreciation, awareness and action for the environment.

Through a farm-to-table programme, for instance, Primary 3 pupils learn about food security and the hard work that goes into growing food.

They plant vegetables hydroponically and grow mushrooms, with half the harvest sold in the canteen and the other half donated to an old folks' home.

Mee Toh hopes that even after its pupils graduate from the school, they will continue to spread awareness and share their knowledge of these efforts to their new classmates, said science and English teacher Eleanor Quek, who is the school's environment education adviser.

Primary 6 pupil Dawn Tan, 12, who is the head environmental ambassador at the school, designs videos, campaigns and posters to help remind her peers the importance of protecting the environment and maintaining biodiversity.

“We also plant trees and maintain the plants in our school, so living things like butterflies, birds, insects and lizards are able to approach a more natural environment,” she said.

“Last year, my classmates and I did a lesson package about carbon footprint, and we used a carbon footprint calculator to calculate how much carbon dioxide we were producing from our activities," she added.

"We tried to reduce this after knowing how much harm it causes. For example, we informed our family members and urged them to use public transport or walk instead of using the car.”

Madam Halimah, who joined environmental student ambassadors and some members of the school staff in planting a tree in celebration of Earth Day, said: "I'm really glad more schools like Mee Toh are touching on the subject of environmental sustainability.

"I encourage more schools to come on board to create a culture of environmental sustainability as part of their holistic integration in their school environment. And hopefully, this will instil values in the younger generation," she added.

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