Green Champions: The Eco-Schools Scheme in Northern Ireland

The eco schools scheme     

The scheme was set up to promote awareness of environmental issues among school children. The programme aims to combine learning in school with positive actions to help the environment. Pupils learn about healthy living, recycling and how to save energy and reduce waste.

The message is that caring for the environment is everyone’s business, and it should be a part of life in every school. So teachers, pupils and the local authorities should all be involved in improving the environment around their school and in the local community.

The scheme in Northern Ireland   

The Eco-Schools programme in Northern Ireland is ran by the environmental charity Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. The government, local authorities and other partners support the scheme. Northern Ireland is ranked 9th out of 59 countries which participate in the scheme, and all schools in the region are now registered to take part.

Benefits for schools

Financial savings     

The Eco-Schools programme helps schools reduce their energy bills and water consumption. Recycling can also help raise money.

More awareness of environmental issues     

Pupils learn about the issues in the classroom and they are encouraged to use their new knowledge in everyday life. This makes the learning much more relevant and interactive.    

A better school environment     

Reducing litter and waste makes the school and the surrounding areas a nicer place to be.  

A sense of community   

Local businesses and councils work with the schools to create positive changes in their local area. This brings about a feeling of community integration.   

Benefits for local authorities

The scheme reduces the litter around schools and in the surrounding local areas. Due to the increased awareness of recycling, there is usually an increase in the use of recycling facilities. The reduced energy consumption in schools and in the pupil’s homes means less pollution is generated. The healthy living aspect of the Eco-Schools project means that there is often an increase in pupils and their families using council-run leisure centres and other facilities.

Benefits globally

Eco-Schools is an international environmental awareness programme. It started in 1994, with the aim of making young people aware of environmental issues. 59 countries are now part of the programme, including the U.S, Brazil, and Denmark, where Eco-Schools began. All participating schools follow the same principles and are awarded a ‘green flag’ to show that they are part of the scheme, and that they are doing their bit for the environment. The scheme continues to grow and work on producing the next generation of environmentally-conscious global citizens.