SINGAPORE: Progressively equipping schools with solar panels over the next decade is one way the Ministry of Education (MOE) plans to reach its target of getting at least 20 per cent of schools to be carbon-neutral by 2030.
The target was first announced in February at the unveiling of the Singapore Green Plan 2030. MOE is also working towards a two-thirds reduction of net carbon emissions from the schools sector by 2030.
Speaking in the joint segment on sustainability during the Committee of Supply debates on Thursday (Mar 4), Minister for Education Lawrence Wong said MOE will start by piloting sustainability features and related concepts in four schools - Elias Park Primary School, Mee Toh School, Commonwealth Secondary School and Tampines Secondary School.
"These schools have already adopted a holistic school-wide approach to sustainability. We will work with them to further reduce net carbon emissions from the school buildings, and to encourage students to actively reduce their individual carbon footprint," he said in his speech.
"We will learn from the experiences in the pilot, and progressively scale up good and practical solutions across all our schools."
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The ministry will also continue to enhance school infrastructure with green features, Mr Wong said.
With about 130 schools currently on the SolarNova programme with solar panels progressively installed on their rooftops, MOE will extend this to cover most of the remaining schools in the coming decade, he announced.
MOE will also gradually install LED lights as the main light source in classrooms and more energy-efficient direct current fans, he added.
"MOE will continue to green our schools and testbed new innovations, so that our school buildings can be more sustainable and our school campuses can become learning laboratories for our students to see sustainability in practice," said Mr Wong.
The Education Ministry aims to reduce carbon emissions from schools significantly through the Eco Stewardship Programme, added Mr Wong.
The programme aims to inculcate "informed and responsible sustainability habits" in students for life and "empower them to make a positive difference", he said.
Under the programme, environmental sustainability will be "holistically integrated" into schools through the 4Cs - curriculum, campus, culture and community.
While environment and climate change education is already integrated into subjects such as science, geography and social studies, Mr Wong agreed that MOE can do more to enhance the teaching and learning of sustainability in science and humanities subjects.
"For example, in the new upper secondary geography syllabus, the topics will be organised around the theme of sustainability where students will understand the impact of sustainability issues. We will also refresh and strengthen the Singapore perspective on sustainable development," he added.
MOE will develop more learning resources that feature sustainability initiatives within the school environment, which will help students "connect their learning to their actual lived experience in schools", said the Education Minister.
MAKING SUSTAINABILITY A HABIT
Everyday responsibilities for students will also be expanded to include sustainability habits, he added.
"It could be simple activities like switching off lights and fans upon leaving the classrooms. And in fact, some schools have also encouraged students to reduce and recycle food waste," said Mr Wong.
These practices will be expanded to more schools, and MOE will pilot ways for students to see that their daily habits can make a "discernible impact" on the environment, he added.
"We will also help students champion sustainability mindset and practices through leadership opportunities so that they can encourage their peers and friends towards more sustainable living."
MOE will work with partners to widen and enhance the platforms for students to participate in and undertake "meaningful" community projects to care for the environment and promote sustainable living, said Mr Wong.
The ministry will also work with partners to strengthen students' awareness of future green jobs, he added.
"We have set ambitious plans for ourselves. They are not just hard targets in reducing carbon emissions, but equally if not more importantly, they are about nurturing our young with the values, skills and knowhow to become responsible stewards of the environment," said Mr Wong in closing.
"We hope to see in every student an eco steward for life, where they will have a sensible sensitivity towards the environment, and understand what it means to live sustainably."