The Green Schools initiative 20 years on

By Evin Grant

With environmental issues and protests at the forefront of the agenda in recent years, an emphasis is being placed on Irish schools and their role in environmental learning and action.

One school leading the way in this area is Forge Integrated Primary School in Belfast, where an eco-council was set up in 2013. An internationally recognised green flag is held by the school.

The work of the eco-council is taught in the school’s curriculum, ensuring that its students adopt an early thinking that protects and doesn’t hinder the environment. The latest environmental action taken by the council was to introduce the re-using of junk in classrooms to make crafts.

“More schools in Ireland hold a green flag than ever before”

“Their work, and many other schools across the country, should be commended. More schools in Ireland hold a green flag than ever before,” Gráinne Maguire of An Taisce’s Green Schools initiative told TheCity.ie.

“The Green School initiative began over 20 years ago, so the first generation that were educated under it are now older. They are informed about the environment and know the right action we should take to be conscious.”

Over 97,000 students and 8,000 teachers will be undertaking the Green Schools’ water theme this month, according to the Leinster Leader. The programme is in its seventh year and is made in partnership with Irish Water.

“Over 75% of Irish schools currently hold a green flag, with 93% of schools registered for one. The importance of early education on environmental action cannot be underestimated,” said Darragh Stanley, Lecturer in Ecology and Biodiversity at UCD.

“Over 75% of Irish schools currently hold a green flag, with 93% of schools registered for one”

“The recent protests in Dublin showcase the increase in the levels of education we have seen on environmental issues in this country. I personally don’t think, 20 years ago, we’d have had the same turnout.”

The ultimate aim of the Green Schools initiative is to eventually have every school in Ireland holding a green flag. With over three quarters of schools in Ireland achieving that standard, their goal is well within reach.

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