Our Youth Must Be “The Next Voice for the Environment”: JET’s Schools’ Environment Programme

Due to our family visitor duties (albeit very pleasant duties) I have missed several events. Here is one important one. Over the years, the Jamaica Environment Trust has persevered with its programs that seek to educate our children on a range of environmental issues. It is interesting that the rural schools have done particularly well this year. Congratulations to all!

“Who will be the next voice for the environment?” asked President of the Press Association of Jamaica, Dionne Jackson Miller of the students in the audience at the Jamaica Environment Trust’s (JET’s) Schools’ Environment Programme (SEP) Awards on Tuesday, June 23. Mrs Jackson Miller, the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, charged students participating in JET’s flagship environmental education programme to be the voices of their generation on environmental issues. “Who saw pictures of the Riverton fire earlier this year?” Mrs Miller asked the children in the audience, “and who was most affected? That’s right, the children – so it is up to you to speak out about the environmental issues which affect you.”

President of the Press Association of Jamaica and guest speaker at the event Dionne Jackson Miller speaks to students of Sandy Bay Primary & Junior High School about their research on the medicinal uses of plants. (Photo: JET)
President of the Press Association of Jamaica and guest speaker at the event Dionne Jackson Miller speaks to students of Sandy Bay Primary & Junior High School about their research on the medicinal uses of plants. (Photo: JET)

The SEP awards highlighted and rewarded the work of schools participating in the programme, the longest running of its kind in Jamaica. Delivered in 31 schools across the island in the 2014/15 academic year, SEP guided teachers and students in campus-based activities they undertook through their schools’ environmental clubs. In early June representatives from the environmental education community traversed the island judging 12 of the top performing SEP schools. Each school was assessed on the four SEP thematic areas: greening, solid waste management, environmental research and the strength of the environmental club. Ten outstanding schools were then chosen to be awarded for their efforts in SEP in the awards ceremony which took place on Tuesday. The participating schools greeted sponsors, JET members and other specially invited guests at the event with a fantastic display of their creative environmental projects to kick off the ceremony. Displays included research projects on environmental issues affecting their school communities, energy conservation and community outreach.

Students of Vista Preparatory School in St. Ann explain the importance of Parrot Fish to Andrea Stephenson of Total Jamaica. (Photo: JET)
Students of Vista Preparatory School in St. Ann explain the importance of Parrot Fish to Andrea Stephenson of Total Jamaica. (Photo: JET)

“It seems to me that it is up to all the young people who have been part of these environmental education programmes – not just run by JET, but by many other organizations – to bring about a different future,” said JET CEO, Diana McCaulay addressing the students in her opening remarks. Greetings were brought on behalf of the main funders of SEP, the Natural Resources Conservation Authority by Peter Knight, CEO of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), who applauded the work being done by JET and the SEP schools. Ms Paula Duncan, Total Jamaica’s Human Resources Manager spoke on behalf of all the SEP corporate sponsors commenting that they were proud to be a supporter of a programme which produced such amazing environmental projects by participating schools.

A student from West Indies Preparatory School in Manchester shows CEO of the National Environment & Planning Agency Peter Knight some tomatoes grown in the school's vegetable garden. (Photo: JET)
Students and teachers of Mount St. Joseph Preparatory School and Holland Primary School  with representatives of NEPA and Total Jamaica showing off their Champion School plaques. (Photo: JET)

Following an enjoyable performance by St Michael’s Primary of a dub poem entitled “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica’, SEP awards for the 2014/15 academic year were announced. Special prizes were awarded to Pisgah All Age, St Elizabeth, Mar Jam Preparatory, St Ann, West Indies College Preparatory, Manchester and St Michael’s Primary from Kingston for commendable achievements in their environmental clubs outside of the SEP thematic areas. Sectional prizes were then awarded to Maryland All Age, Hanover for Greening, Pimento Hall International School, St Ann for Environmental Research and Vista Preparatory, St Ann and Sandy Bay Primary, Hanover for their community outreach projects. The prize for SEP Champion School was declared a tie by judges and went to Mount St Joseph Preparatory from Manchester and Holland Primary from St Elizabeth.

A student from West Indies Preparatory School in Manchester shows CEO of the National Environment & Planning Agency Peter Knight some tomatoes grown in the school's vegetable garden. (Photo: JET)
A student from West Indies Preparatory School in Manchester shows CEO of the National Environment & Planning Agency Peter Knight some tomatoes grown in the school’s vegetable garden. (Photo: JET)

JET sincerely thanks all our environmental education sponsors, without whom this work would not be possible.

St. Michael's Primary School in Kingston performs a dub poem "Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica" at the Schools Environment Programme event on Tuesday. (Photo: JET)
St. Michael’s Primary School in Kingston performs a dub poem “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica” at the Schools Environment Programme event on Tuesday. (Photo: JET)

 

 


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