Little heroes rise to the occasion In collaboration with Green Savers Association
Worldwide, temperatures are on the rise as a direct consequence of the actions of human beings. Similar to the rest of the world, our own megacity Dhaka is also facing the heat.
As the city rises up from the ground in an unplanned way, it becomes more congested with every passing day. Currently, Dhaka is the most densely populated city in the world with 47,400 people per square kilometre. The city does not have sufficient water bodies, trees and open spaces to be considered liveable. Even its air quality is gradually worsening, making it hard to inhale due to dust. What we need now are fresh air and oxygen. So what should we do?
“Like our school rooftop, I covered the rooftop at my house with various trees. I am determined that when I get my first salary, I will spend half of it on various tree plantations,” said Raiyana Zaman, a ninth grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College. The students of the school have already covered their school rooftop with various fruit trees. They nurse the trees by themselves in hopes of a greener country.
Shariful Islam, a senior teacher and a Green ambassador at the school said, “Observing the days or planting some trees is important, but it is more important to make our youth aware of their environment and ecology and the necessity of a greener community in building a happy and healthy nation. This is why I got involved with Green Savers Association in my school.”
Green Savers Association is an organization which is working with school children to make their schools green and environment friendly, through activities such as the establishment of Green Clubs in schools. A Green Club is an organization created and operated by the students in a participatory manner to encourage them to think green.
Ahsan Rony, the founder and president of Green Savers Association, said, “We established Green Clubs in 380 schools throughout the country, with 100 inside Dhaka. We planted trees and plants on the rooftops of 34 schools. We dream that every school in the country will have a Green Club and Oxygen Bank, so that every rooftop may become a garden.”
“Oxygen is vital to our survival; it’s what makes the earth liveable. It’s what keeps us alive. We plant trees to generate oxygen, and we feel better when we nurse our plants with our own hands,” said Nuzhat Raiyan, another ninth grader at Viqaurunnisa.
Oxygen Banks are boxes made out of wood, where anyone who is interested, including teachers, students, and parents, can give money which will be used to keep the school green, clean and climate-change resilient. This bank is also operated by the students.
Raisa Tamkin, another ninth grader at the school, said, “We deposit Tk2-Tk5 from our lunchbox surpluses and open the box once a month. We then plant trees, water the garden and nurse the plants with this money.”
Their teacher Shariful Islam is thinking about the future of his students. “We are ingraining the concept of being environment friendly in the minds of our students. After 10 years, I hope that each and every one of my students will come to love and care for nature. I hope that they transfer this knowledge to their families and the general public, since that is how we can achieve a healthy life in the future.”
Another student, Novera Talukder, said, “Large-scale industrial projects are being implemented throughout the country and numerous trees are being cut down everywhere. I urge all of you to allow us to do some of the smaller tasks first, and at least plant some trees in order to keep our country clean. Once our environment is being taken care of properly, then only should we consider building what we want to. Please don’t cut the trees. We are building our environment with the money from our Oxygen Banks.”
Recently, the Department of Environment has finalized the Green Club and Oxygen Bank operation guidelines under one of its child centric climate change adaptation projects. In collaboration with UK based Save the Children and Green Savers Association, the Department of Environment has endorsed the concept of Oxygen Banks in their World Environment Day observation program.
Deputy Director of the Department of Environment and Project Director Abul Kalam Azad said, “Green Clubs should operate in a way that is conducive to keeping our environment clean and healthy. The students can work to prevent air pollution, water pollution, etc. We want to make students fully concerned about the environment.”
Objectives of Green Clubs
To bring schools under environmental education, to make students knowledgeable on climate change, adaptation and disaster risk reduction and enhance their skills. To influence the students to use environment friendly technology and to engage them in participatory activities.
What they do
Green Clubs work on tree plantations, nursing and waste management. They work to protect air quality, reduce water and electricity wastage, promote the hygienic use of washrooms and discourage the use of products which are harmful for the environment.
They work to raise awareness on climate change, disaster risk, environmental pollution and biodiversity within their schools. They observe environment related days with various competitions such as paintings, drama, debate and wall paper writing.
These clubs are non-political, non-profitable and secular. Any student from grades six to ten may become a member by depositing Tk10 in the oxygen bank.
A total of five members including the class captain are executive members of the club. The president is chosen from the tenth grade and the secretary from ninth grade on merit-basis. A Green ambassador, typically the teacher, will perform his or her duty as the coordinator and advisor of the Green Club.
The committee sits together at least once a month and finalize the next month’s work schedule. Executive members then spread word about the decisions made to other students of his or her class.
Students, teachers, staff, guests or anybody can put money in the Oxygen Banks. Forcible deposition is strictly prohibited. Green ambassadors operate the banks, they open the box in the presence of executive members of the Green Clubs.
Green ambassadors, along with the other teachers, use the deposited money to look after the plantation and other environment related activities such as observing Environment Day, painting, debate and other competitions and to buy environment related paraphernalia such as waste bins, materials needed for nurturing, etc.
Green ambassadors keep accounts of the deposited money and expenses and send a financial statement to Green Savers with the signature of the school’s head master.