» Innovative environmental education in a Chilean Biosphere Reserve
21.06.2018 - Natural Sciences Sector

Innovative environmental education in a Chilean Biosphere Reserve

©UNESCO/Maria Rosa Cardenas

The Lo Narváez Basic School is located in the La Campana-Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve, situated in the central zone of Chile. For eight years it has been carrying out a nationally and internationally recognized environmental education project. Each course has an environmental workshop, which forms part of the curriculum, where students learn respect and care for the planet through a variety of activities that form part of the course.

In pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, school children work in a greenhouse where they learn basic concepts in a game context; in the first and second year they take care of a garden. In the third year, they plant vegetables in a small garden, while in the fourth they plant them in a greenhouse in order to compare the processes. In the fifth year, they are placed in charge of making recycled paper which they use later in school. In sixth grade, they create ecological bricks with plastic bottles which they use to build seats and retaining walls. In the seventh grade, they produce compost to use in their own gardens and crops. Finally, in eighth grade the students work with worms and bees.

The school has solar panels, collection centres, water reuse systems and drip irrigation for its gardens. As a result, in 2016 they were awarded an environmental certification from the Chilean Ministry of Environment and UNESCO.

The director of the Lo Narvaez School, Mr Guillermo Pimentel, explains that this commitment to environmental education has resulted in significant improvements in school co-existence and the discipline of children. This is the second most poverty-stricken school in the region, with a School Vulnerability Index of 96%; so serious discipline problems would be expected. However, the behaviour of students is excellent and is improving every year.

In 2017, students and officials of the school Lo Narváez travelled to France to exchange experiences with the students of the Robert Doisneau school of the Fontainebleau Biosphere Reserve in France, who had already visited their school the previous year.

This year, students will travel to Jaureguiberry in Uruguay, where they will visit the first sustainable public school in Latin America built with approximately 60% recycled materials (covers, plastic and glass bottles, cans and cardboard) and 40% traditional materials.

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