Editorial 2 English

Sustainable Schools: delay costs

From Environmental Education to Education for Sustainability(EfS)

With the introduction of Education for Sustainability (EfS ) , which is the successor of Environmental Education (International Conference “Environment  and Society : Education and Public Awareness for Sustainability” – Thessaloniki 8-12 December 1997) a new perception of  the need to connect this education with significant changes in school life has emerged. The change from “Environmental Education” to Education for Sustainability ( EfS ) was accompanied by the coining of the term “Sustainable School “. The basic idea behind  ‘ Sustainable School ‘, is the integration of the concept and values of sustainability in every aspect of school’s life , namely in the administration , in the learning  process , in the management of buildings , in the transportation to and from the school, in the relation with the parents and the overall school community .

The Sustainable School in Greece
In Greece  the Environmental Education Council (SPE) of the Association for the Environment and Culture, started the contest  “Sustainable School Award “, a competition between schools of  the same grade and the same type. The set of “Sustainable School Indicators” was used to assess participating school. The contest ‘ Sustainable School Award ” operated under the SPE and under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, from the 2010-11 school year and for three years . Five hundred and thirty (530) schools took part in the competition during the three years.
The contest was concluded in June 2013.

The basic idea of Sustainable School Indicators is to assist the school community to act on the implied activities, in order to achieve improvement in all three areas of school operation , i.e. pedagogical/ educational , social / organizational  and environmental.
The Greek proposal, made
​​by the SPE team, was  preceded by a version of the United Kingdom ( 2006 ) adopting the “Eight Doorways of Education for Sustainability”.  In its website, which has been officially withdrawn by the Ministry of Education of the United Kingdom, one can read the following: “Planning a Sustainable School. “… The National Framework for Sustainable Schools interprets these priorities for schools and offers them a series of ‘doorways’ through which to establish their sustainability practices. The doorways are entry points – a collection of discrete yet integrated focus areas that schools can relate to and take action around. In an attempt to address local and national priorities, each of the doorways draws its inspiration from a range of government policies concerning sustainable development and quality of life. We would like all schools to be performing well across all of the doorways by 2020, and offer the following recommendations in this regard”(www.teachernet.gov).
After the Labour Party lost power, the main ‘ provider ‘ of a green culture in the UK is “Keep Britain Tidy” NGO, which is supported by sponsors (corporate funders). This organization manages Eco Schools in the United Kingdom. ‘Eco-Schools ‘ in Greece are coordinated by the Greek Society for the Coservation of Nature « (Nature Conservation) under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. As stated on the NGOs  website , the International Coordinator is FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education).

Greece lacks policy towards Sustainable School
 As is now clear, there are different approaches to Sustainable School, however the most important thing is that Greece has stayed away from the Sustainable School concept and has not recognized its contribution to education in general and not just to environmental education. Last October, Aeiforum delivered to the Greek Ministry of Education the results of a survey conducted among the schools that had participated in the competition “Sustainable School Award”. The schools operated following the set of Sustainable School Indicators and their answers made it ​​clear that sustainable school , as proposed by Aeiforum , could be adopted and recommended  as a form of organization and operation of the school, which improves drastically and in a short time, all aspects of school life. We cite here some answers  and views that teachers provided to the question: “Have you noticed a change in student behavior after your school participated in the Sustainable School Award?”

  • There is a huge change in the students’ behavior ( environmentally friendly )
  • Students are more friendly , more open , more receptive , more collaborative
  • Less discarded books
  • Better relationships , reduced garbage
  • Less violence between students , fewer penalties
  • Greater involvement of students in the learning process by using ICT
  • More environmentally- conscious behaviour (cleaner school)
  • Declined absenteeism rates
  • More group work
  • Some students highlighted positive changes of their personality
  • Their parents started recycling
  • They became more friendly and more active. Friendly climate.
  • Increase in the participation of students in school activities
  • They learned to respect their creations , as well as those of others
  • Improved teacher – student relationship
  • Great Change! Even the marginalized students participate actively
  • They enjoy more imagination, more participation, more teamwork
  • Better communication, increased volunteering
  • More cooperative, have built trusting relationships
  • Disobedient students improved after assuming roles
  • Those less motivated by traditional methods became more active
  • They got to turn the lights off and closing windows, they don’t waste water
  • They have a positive perspective of the school  and undertake initiatives
  • Huge change to all students .

These spontaneous statements by  teachers (essentially regarding the operation of the school based on the set of Sustainable School Indicators) leave no doubt about the fact that it actually can (of course under conditions) contribute to a great and positive change towards a sustainable school model (the way students have described it with the phrase ” better school “). Cited below there are the recommendations of teachers to the Government:

  • Publication of informative material for the Sustainable School.
  • Financial support of schools.
  • The program of “Sustainable School Indicators” has to be introduced in he school curriculum (13 iterations of the proposal) .
  • Textbooks have to be written in the spirit of sustainability.
  • More training seminars on Sustainable School Indicators.
  • The Flexible Zone has to be introduced in the curriculum .


All in all, we believe that the Ministry should adopt the perspective of Sustainable School through the set of Sustainable School Indicators, as the most efficient form of organization and operation of the school, which leads to sustainability and to the effectiveness of the school as an institution at the same time. We should abandon the use of the term “Environmental Education as the term is obsolete. Our proposal for adoption of the Sustainable School Indicators as a guiding framework for orienting schools towards sustainability has proved its worth and is completely successful, as evidenced by all those involved in the processes of Sustainable School. The adoption of one or more programs with titles that contain the “sustainable school” is not enough, in our opinion,  Sustainable school should become the target of Primary and Secondary Education policies of the Ministry.

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