Step 1: Establish an eco-schools committee
An eco-school committee in discussion
The whole Eco-School process is dependent on the setting up of a committee whose main responsibilities would be that of:
||Developing, implementing and monitoring a school environmental policy that addresses the environmental concerns of the school community,
||Ensuring that the interest of all sectors of the school community are represented in the decision making process,
||Establishing adequate communication links with the whole school community ensuring wide ownership of the programme, and
||Integrating the programme within the School Development Plan and the Local Agenda 21 initiatives of the local community.
The composition of the committee is up to each individual school. A typical committee could be made up of:
- a member of the school management team
- a school principal / PK 1/ HEM
- pupils (this is an essential feature)
- a non-teaching staff member
- a parent
- a representative from the local council
There is no one way for the committee to be set up. It might evolve from a group that is already active in the school, such as a Green Club, or a Students’ Council or a School Council. Or it can be set up from scratch through nominations from the pupils.
The school determines the number of committee members, but it is suggested that it is not too large. Other persons may be co-opted onto the committee if needed to perform particular jobs. Pupils must be adequately represented in the committee and ideally they should be selected from amongst their peers after the prospective candidates explain why they are volunteering to be on the committee. They can do so during a school assembly. Celebrating the setting up of the Eco-School committee during a school function is a good way of drumming up interest in the programme amongst the school community. The head of school might use the opportunity to distribute certificates of membership during such a function.
Committee meetings should be organized at least twice a term, however, one would expect that during the initial stages of the programme, the meetings would be more frequent. Minutes of the meetings should be kept and communicated (on a notice board, newsletter, website, or any other media) to the rest of the school community (including the School Council/Board of Governors) and preferably to the local community. It is expected that pupils take up responsibility (assisted by adult members of the committee) for certain management aspects of the community meetings (e.g. minute taking and communication).