The Eco-Schools Programme is an international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and is active in 51 countries around the world. Eco-Schools was initiated in South Africa in 2003, with WESSA as the implementing agent. The programme is aimed at creating awareness and action around environmental sustainability in schools and their surrounding communities as well as supporting ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) in the national curriculum. There are over 1,200 registered schools with the programme.
Key features of the programme are that it has a holistic, participatory approach and a combination of learning and action which makes it an ideal way for schools to embark on a meaningful path for improving the environment in both the school and local community, and to influence the lives of young people, school staff, families, local authorities and NGOs. This also benefits the school in terms of whole-school development and improvement.
The Eco-Schools programme involves seven steps that any school can adopt. Steps involve establishing an Eco-Schools Committee to encourage and manage the programme; providing environmental curriculum to students which includes hands-on opportunities for students to improve and empower the school and community; and developing an eco-code which outlines the school’s values and objectives alongside student goals. The process involves a wide range of stakeholders, but it is the pupils who play the most important role.