A Visitor from a Distant Place
Way back in June 2011, we received a missive from far away USA asking if a Ms. Marcia Garrett, teacher-coordinator of recently bronze-awarded Einstein Middle School in Washington State, could visit our eco-schools in Malaysia. Needless to say, we jumped at this opportunity to give our Eco-Schools some international exposure. After all, one of the promised benefits of the Eco-Schools Programme is international networking.
We selected Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sri Kelana (Sri Kelana National Primary School) as the destination for Ms. Marcia Garrett’s visit. SK Sri Kelana has a long-standing commitment to environmental education, being one of the pioneer schools to join the Smart Ranger programme (organized by the Global Environment Centre) way back in 2004. It had registered for the Eco-Schools Programme in April 2011 as a way to take its efforts to another level and to work towards the international recognition that it deserves. SK Sri Kelana was also chosen because of its proximity to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, and Ms. Marcia Garrett’s point of arrival.
A few weeks before Ms. Garrett’s scheduled visit on 8th July 2011, SK Sri Kelana was contacted about the exciting news of a visitor from a distant place wanting to find out about their eco-activities. It did not take much persuasion at all for the school to agree to the visit. Preparations began to be made to welcome Ms. Garrett.
A Wonderful Day at SK Sri Kelana
Finally, 8th July arrived and Ms. Garrett was escorted to SK Sri Kelana by one of WWF-Malaysia’s Eco-Schools Programme coordinators, Ms. Rabi’ah Ghazali. The school spared no efforts to showcase their various eco-activities. The proceedings for the day were opened by an energetic dance by the school’s eco-dance troupe. The special highlight of the dance is the use of musical instruments made from recycled plastic bottles. Following that, some pupils from the school’s eco-committee delivered a presentation about the school’s various eco-activities. The presentation was delivered with great confidence by the pupils, who did a good job speaking in English even though they were more comfortable in the native Malay language.
Ms. Garrett was then invited to share about her school’s eco-activities. She was ready with an iPad full of photographs and used them to explain Einstein Middle School’s eco-activities. SK Sri Kelana’s eco-committee was greatly encouraged when Ms. Garrett shared her opinion that it was well on its way to receiving an Eco-Schools award.
Besides sharing their eco-activities through a slide presentation, SK Sri Kelana’s eco-committee had also prepared some hands-on activities for their guests that day. Ms. Rabi’ah and Ms. Garrett were given a demonstration on how to make crafts from recycled materials like glass bottles and plastic bottle-caps, and afterwards had a chance to make their own crafts.
To top off the day, the eco-committee took the guests on a tour around the school, highlighting the eco-activities taking place at various spots around the school. Particularly impressive was the recycling cabin. SK Sri Kelana functions as a recycling centre for the neighbourhood, and various recyclables such as newspapers, empty juice boxes, and even cooking oil were stored in the recycling container. It also has a unique redemption scheme whereby empty Tetrapak juice boxes sent to the cabin could be exchanged for magazines, stationery, or juice boxes.
All in all, it was a great learning experience for all parties involved. We thank Ms. Jennifer Murck, Eco-Schools USA Manager, for putting Ms. Marcia Garrett in touch with us, and Ms. Garrett herself for making the visit. Kudos as well goes to SK Sri Kelana’s enthusiastic teacher-coordinator, Mr Ong Kien Eik, for organizing the programme for the day, to the school’s management for providing such a warm welcome, and to the eco-committee (parents, teachers and pupils alike), who put up such a good show for Ms. Garrett. We at Eco-Schools Programme Malaysia look forward to future opportunities for engagement with Eco-Schools USA.
WWF-Malaysia is the national operator for the Eco-Schools Programme in Malaysia. Since registration was opened in March 2011, more than 20 schools have registered for the programme. These schools are working on themes such as School Grounds, Water, Nature & Biodiversity and Waste Management. Waste Management is one of the most popular themes in Malaysian Eco-Schools, with many schools continuing their existing 3R efforts. None of the schools have received any awards as yet, but it is expected that a few Bronze and Silver awards will be given out in 2012. To read more about SK Sri Kelana’s eco-activities, read a news article about the school here .To find out more about the Eco-Schools Programme in Malaysia, visit us here.