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Imagine a school integrated with lush natural greenery where students are able to learn directly about the environment - from the environment.

That’s the atmosphere that students are experiencing at the Global Andalan Elementary Schools established by PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) in the company’s Logas and Pelalawan estates.

This is because the company has established Eco Green Parks next to the schools, all in a bid to further support the improvement of quality education in Indonesia.

Eco Green Parks – land areas comprising greenhouses, compost fertilizer production houses, cottages, simple technology dams, plantations and learning huts – provide students with the opportunity to stimulate their curiousity about forestry and agriculture by exploring the available facilities.

“In this way, students can get to know the different types of plants available in the Eco Green Parks at their schools,” said Dasril, Headmaster of Global Andalan Elementary School in Logas.

“We want students to enjoy the learning setting, so they will be interested about the material being taught by their teachers.

“There are currently 276 students at school who are eager to study about nature, and they feel excited to learn and achieve great results,” he added.

The highlight of the Eco Green Park program is its ‘Bank Sampah’ or ‘Trash Bank’, an activity which encourages students to familiarize themselves with managing the garbage they encounter – be it at school or at home.

With ‘Trash Bank’, students learn quickly about the types of garbage which should be thrown away and the types of garbage which can be sorted and collected.

Any collectible garbage will be recycled into various handicrafts which can be sold. The proceeds of the waste sales then go back to each class to meet their individual needs, such as for the purchase of new plants or decorations for their classrooms.

“With the Trash Bank, we are able to change the behaviours of our students to become more concerned about the environment,” said Renawati, a teacher at Global Andalan Elementary School in Pelalawan.

Because of the Eco Green Park program, both schools have been recognized with the Adiwiyata Award at the District Level from the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Adiwiyata is one of the ministry’s programs aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness among students in Indonesia about environmental conservation.

“The Trash Bank program is also one way we are trying to achieve the Adiwayata award at the Provincial Level in 2018,” said Renawati.

RGE Group Vice-Chairman Bey Soo Khiang said that the Eco Green Parks have good long-term impacts on education and the environment. The parks are also in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on access to good quality education for everyone and environment conservation.

“This is a good and interesting idea as it fosters students to learn about nature from when they are at an elementary school age. These Eco Green Parks are expected to be good learning tools for students and to produce the best quality students,” he said.

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