The world is becoming a concrete jungle with the greenery being rapidly replaced by so many buildings and parking lots. This is true, especially for the metropolitan cities in India. With the rate at which the number of trees is being cut, increased pressure on natural resources, and so many automobiles on the roads, we would hardly be left with any greenery in the coming decade.
The amount of pollution in the urban environment mainly due to automobile exhausts and industries is taking a toll on our health. Adults still have the resistance and immunity to fight the harmful effects of pollution. However, it is the children who suffer the most. Children usually suffer from cough, cold, and allergies due to the bad quality of air and the pollution around. To boost the immunity of children there is a need for a green and clean environment around us. This is exactly the reason why Green Schools are created.
what is a Green School?
A school is not merely a place where children are confined to the four walls of the classroom and the content within the books. Yes, STEM education and learning are important for children. However, the role and responsibility towards the environment and mother earth are equally important. A green school is one that develops a clean, healthy, and protective environment for the children to learn and at the same time saves resources and conserves the environment. In simple words, a green school is a resource and energy-efficient school.
The concept of "Green School" first came into existence in the year 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.
A great real-world example of how a green environment can transform the immune system was witnessed in Finland. Here, some daycares changed their hard-surface floor into green lawns by cultivating small bushes, plants, and blueberries. This resulted in a significant improvement in the health of the children. Children were allowed to take care of the plants and the results were remarkable. It was observed that the gut flora of these children who interacted with the green environment around them increased in number and diversity. Higher gut microbiome diversity enhanced the immune system in children.
Here is how green schools can promote good health and better immunity in children.
1) Bringing choldren closer to nature
A green school promotes holistic learning and development in children by allowing them to interact with nature and the environment frequently. In a green school, children get a chance to play with mud, trees, plants, and sand on a regular basis. Gardening and taking care of plants in the school premises is done by the learners.
2) Promoting a healthy environment
A healthy and clean environment in green schools means more fresh air, improved air quality, and ventilation inside the classrooms as well as outdoors. A green school is constructed using eco-friendly materials such as non-toxic paints without volatile organic compounds, furniture made from wood that is pest resistant and does not need the use of harmful chemicals, etc
An overall healthy environment means improved physical and mental well-being of children.
3) Clean and green outdoor spaces
Green schools are not only about keeping the interiors of the school learner-friendly and healthy but also keeping the outdoor spaces clean and green. The concrete pavement can have a plush green cover of grass. This would enable the learners to walk comfortably even without their footwear. Also, covering of grass would ensure that they do not get hurt anytime while playing.
4) Minimal use of resources
The green school is constructed such that sunlight is available in the classroom and corridors most times during the day. This translates to lower energy consumption. Also, rainwater harvesting is an effective means by which water is conserved for future use.
5) The 3R mantra
Learners effectively adopt the 3R mantra of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in a green school for solid waste management. Following this mantra helps in the generation of minimum waste and keeps the school surroundings clean.
Green schools promote experiential learning amongst the children. Moving forward, there is a need for more parents to embrace green schools for improving the immune system of their children and bringing about a change in the urban environment in the right direction.