Since the pilot project set up in Mauritius in 2015, the Eco-schools Programme has spread from the initial 28 schools to 117, Rodrigues island included. Ian Humphreys of the Foundation for Environmental Education, is in Mauritius as mentor to the project, which is overseen locally by the NGO Reef Conservation.
Developed in 1994, the Eco-Schools programme targets young people by supporting them in finding solutions, at their level, to environmental and sustainable development challenges.
“My assessment has been hugely positive,” says Humphreys who had visited three Mauritian schools at the time of this interview. He takes note, for example, of efforts to reduce the use of plastic bottles. The knowledge, passion and projects are all “at a very high standard”, he reckons. Ian Humphreys should know: he is also CEO of Keep Northern Ireland, which has been operating a similar programme for two decades now.
In a recent awards ceremony rewarding efforts made in 2017, 9 Green Flags were granted to local schools, showing their commitment to promoting and monitoring the environmental projects set up in their community.
The Mauritian children are among the 20 million young people in 67 countries enrolled in the Eco-schools programme. Its high note? It is transformative and not limited to schools. “It becomes a way of life” for those involved, says Humphreys, as the programme spreads to other areas like universities and the workplace.