By Nasheet Jaffer Khan, Community Journalist Published: May 18, 2008, 00:08
Dubai: Sixty hands get to work for 60 minutes each week. The sound of paper being snipped cuts through the silence in the classroom. Thirty pupils of Our Own English School for Boys in Sharjah set aside a slice of life every Thursday, to help create a greener Earth. They make paper bags.
Gulf News' 'No to plastic bags campaign' inspired this 'activity period'.
Niraj Suvarna, a pupil, said: "The series of informative articles in Gulf News on the hazards caused by plastic bags, gave me a clearer picture. When I read about other people actively involved in saving the planet, I wanted to help, too."
The school actively promotes recycling by way of its activity periods.
Laxmi Menon, a science teacher at the school, said: "As part of our initiative, pupils are taught to make paper bags, bookmarks, paper envelopes, pencil holders, gift boxes, storage files and other things of use."
The school's effort seems to have paid off with the awareness generated among pupils.
"I am now more alert to the dangers posed by plastic bags. I saw what plastic bags could do to camels in a [Gulf News] report. I do not want to contribute to the problem," George Zacharia, a grade six pupil, said.
The enthusiasm shown by pupils has helped launch an active environmental club within the school, too.
The club's first activity is to make their school auditorium soundproof through an eco-friendly system, by using discarded egg trays made from paper.
The egg trays are painted black and stacked in paper cartons of the same colour.
"The end product is then stuck along the inner walls of the auditorium. It will take a lot of time and effort but we are definitely going to finish it," Piyush Tripati, the school's senior supervisor, said.
However, all of this would not have been possible without the support of the school's principal, Thomas Mathew. He has continuously encouraged teachers and pupils to hone their creative talents and conjure ideas that would be cost effective and 'green'.
He said: "I am glad that Gulf News is sustaining such a well-defined and subjective campaign. Such education must be imparted to children from an early age."
Sindhu Nair, a science teacher, agreed. She said: "Children are the future ... when we measure the rate at which our planet is being affected, it would be foolish not to take immediate measures ... it is for our own safety."
Not all lessons are confined to the classroom. Some travel beyond.
Vinil Kumar, a grade eight pupil, said that he now actively discourages friends and family from using too much plastic.
Arti G., a science teacher, added: "The Earth is our home ... if we don't take care of it, who would? We wouldn't like our home to become a mess, would we?"
Environment day: All use the bus
On World Environment Day, June 5, the entire staff of Our Own English School for Boys, Sharjah, uses the school bus instead of their personal cars, to commute, as a conscious measure to save fuel and energy.
A part of their eco-friendly agenda, the school regularly collaborates with environmental groups for can collection drives.