Mandira Nayar

NEW DELHI: It might not have been a question that existed during the Grimms Fairytale era, but in 21st Century, it is one that Snow White's evil stepmother would have needed to ask -- Who's the "greenest" of them all? And finding the right answer after an audit and not magic like the mirror, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Monday awarded schools with the best environmental best practices.

While a government school in a small hamlet in the Ropar district in Punjab has bagged the top "Green Schools Award" for its environmental practices, the next spot went to Sholai School in Kodaikanal. Delhi-based Evergreen Public School lived up to its name and bagged the third place.

These schools were awarded under the CSE "Gobar Times" Green Schools Programme. Giving students a chance to evaluate their schools for a change, students prepare a report card of their school's performance in the field of environment. From waste generation to their efforts in rainwater harvesting, recycling and conserving energy, students evaluate all these steps taken.

"The Green School Manual aims to get students out of the classrooms to get their hands dirty. It is not just another textbook, but a tool to make students learn about environment by doing. About 1,200 schools are using the manual," said Sumita Dasgupta, Coordinator, CSE Environmental Education Unit.

Participation

These schools are spread across the country. However, there is significant participation from Delhi, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. There were 95 schools that admitted within the deadline. Fifty-six schools comprehensively audited all chapters, while 42 passed the eligibility criteria.

An innovative way to get children in schools and even their teachers involved in the green movement, the award not only gives schools a chance to really teach student, but also gives CSE the opportunity to see how educational institutions fare in environmental matters.

According to CSE, the audit reveals that schools are aware of the importance of wise management, but are weak in making linkages with real life situations.

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