06/07/2007, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

In Daraga children get a lesson in ecology

by Santosh Digal
A Filipino school teaches children how to protect the environment. The Sunshine International School in Daraga caters to both Filipino and international students and has become a symbol of a global initiative to address the world’s environmental problems.

Daraga (AsiaNews) – Students at the Sunshine International School in Daraga, Albay (southern Philippines) are learning how to be good stewards of the earth. Located far from any major city, the school is a place where the air smells of flowers and birds sing.

Here children are taught the importance and the methods of selective waste collection, learn to separate what is biodegradable from what is not through play, and are taught the importance of recycling. Here they are encouraged to use natural non-polluting products like organic fertiliser and coconut soap and learn how to keep the environment clean.

“We want to inculcate in these children a love for work and the values of discipline and independence,” said Ofelia Mesias-Peralta, school founder and director.

Long before any other Filipino schools started to talk about climate change, the Sunshine International School was already teaching its students the importance of tree replanting as a simple and practical way to address environmental problems.

The school, which won the Saringaya Award from the Filipino Department of Environment and Natural Resources for its advocacy of environmental preservation and conservation, has many overseas students. It has become a prototype of a global initiative to address ubiquitous environmental problems. Korean, Canadian, Japanese, Chinese and Indian students not only get a broader education but also learn how to preserve the environment.

Director Mesias-Peralta recounts that when she was 12 years old, she used to play “teacher” to poor children living at the back of her family’s house. Her actual teaching career first began in 1968 at the St. Agnes’ Academy, the oldest existing school in Albay. But her love for the environment came from her parents, Sevara and Salvador Mesias, both teachers and nature lovers.

She set up the school in 1980 as the Sunshine Nursery School and classes were held at Peralta’s house. Currently, it has about 300 students with only one class per level, each having 30 students. But a high school department is scheduled to open next year.

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