Since 2015, and within the framework of the 17 targets for sustainable development set by the United Nations in the 2030 Agenda, education on environmental and environmental issues has been a major focus of the policy of the French Ministry of National Education. In this area, the French school in Warsaw is an institution of the AEFE network that sets an example. Vegetable gardens in permaculture, waste sorting awareness, zero waste workshops, even the selection of eco-representatives, have taken up the challenge of fully involving students in the sustainable development project run by the establishment of Sadibar French Elementary School. Management and project leaders let us know more …
How is education addressed in the French school curriculum for sustainable development?
Frank Bis, elementary school director : Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is designed as a cross-cutting education in the French school curriculum, making it possible to realize the complexities of the world on a scientific, ethical and civic level. The idea is to educate students from an early age so that they can not only act as responsible citizens, but also better cope with the challenges of the future.
Climate change, pollution, conservation of ecosystems, plant life, environmental change সমস্ত all these themes have been fully integrated into the new primary school curriculum.
At Sadibar French School, we are fortunate to be able to rely on an educational community that is particularly committed to these issues. As well as establishing teachers as parents of the students, we have been able to come up with innovative educational initiatives in the field of education for sustainable development.
In this context, the inclusion of ESD as a school project, which goes beyond the requirements of national education, seemed clear to us.
On a daily basis, how do French primary school teachers and students in Sadiba work together on environmental issues?
FB : Our education team is fully active in the fight against climate change and for biodiversity. On a day-to-day basis, students are called upon to be a major player in environmental change and the school aims to become a role model for environmental protection.
A “Sustainable Development Reference” leads and coordinates educational projects initiated by teachers and parents of students and assists students in their initiatives. Since 2020, the permaculture vegetable garden in the school’s backyard has been a major educational tool around which we have created numerous projects for biodiversity. Through the maintenance of our permaculture garden, students can tackle different themes such as fruit and vegetable season, ecological agriculture, and even plant life …
In February, and as part of the implementation of the “Green School” project between the establishment, the students of CM1 and CM2 elected eco-representatives. Together, their goal is to make their classmates aware of the day-to-day activities that help fight global warming (turning off the lights, sorting waste in the classroom, etc.), but also to express ideas developed by students to improve biodiversity and reduce energy. The impact of the establishment, the promotion of environmentally-responsible activities by the entire education community, the fight against waste and the development of concrete work in the vicinity of the establishment.
What are the current or planned projects in terms of ESD for elementary school classes in LFV?
FB: Sustainable development projects are numerous and varied: they range from general incentives to change behavior in the implementation of large-scale activities carried out in partnership with volunteers from the Warsaw Home Association and the Business Foundation’s “Versavoons la Planet” group.
Some one-off activities have been conducted not only to allow students to discuss and express themselves on the need to protect our planet, but also to encourage them to take action on their own. This year, we organized a “zero waste” workshop to measure each consumer’s personal environmental footprint and tried to reduce it on a daily basis, creating a fresco with children on environmental protection gestures from recycled materials. Raise their awareness about environmentally friendly actions and various forms of renewable energy.
When working with a theme related to sustainable development, we often see that one project calls for another. Thus, the management of vegetable gardens has led us to create a garden to diversify our crops and to expand this field by setting up greenhouses for sowing our own seeds.
All the actions and projects performed by the students lead them to change their daily habits and even make some changes in favor of environmentally-responsible gestures. Thus, we have placed pickup bins in the classroom and indoor composters in the school corridors. A reflection is currently being conducted to significantly reduce the packaging of snacks or to achieve “zero waste” in the near future. A comparison of reusable products (pens, pencils, markers, cartridges, etc.) is also being studied to direct our orders towards reusable products with low carbon footprint.
What are the founding purposes of protecting the planet for years to come?
FB: This year, our school received the label “Eko Szkoła” (Eco School) awarded by the Polish Foundation for Ecological Education (FDEE). We now want to incorporate our education activities into a perennial approach to sustainable development, involving other partners or local non-governmental organizations that prioritize environmental protection.
We also aim to obtain the EFE3D label (French institutions abroad with sustainable development methods) from the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE). This label will allow us to join a strong organization that integrates sustainable development with their educational practice and their overall effectiveness.
How do children fit these questions? Is the future of our planet their concern?
Marie, Stephanie and Geraldine from the group “Let’s save the planet“ : Yes, the degradation of our environment is a matter of great concern for children today. They are particularly aware, for example, of the pollution problems associated with plastics, air quality and loss of biodiversity.
We are often surprised by their level of knowledge and awareness about this. The challenge here is not to look at them as a problem, but as a problem that can be solved. And there is no lack of courage in this regard!
What kind of activities do you organize with LFV students around the Permaculture vegetable garden?
M, S and G. : Activities are mainly directed towards maintenance of the garden: sowing, pampering, sorting, composting, watering as required, plot maintenance, mulching. We work according to the permaculture-agroforestry method, that is, with the least possible intervention. We reproduce as much as possible of what happens in the natural environment. Also, observation is an integral part of our session: observing the erosion of compost, the growth of trees, the presence of insects …
During the winter months, when the garden was less dynamic, we organized several workshops on waste reduction, food and biodiversity.
Any wishes or projects for the school year 2022/2023?
M, S and G. : We hope that in 2022-2023 the garden will be prosperous and the garden will bear its first fruit. We want to be able to achieve 3 waves of harvest! Above all, we hope that children (and parents) will benefit as much as possible from this island of biodiversity.
Another wish, out of the garden, is to go to 100% zero waste for LFV. Many steps have been taken in this direction, and we hope that they will bear fruit too!