Three West Demerara schools have made a clean sweep of a competition to encourage tidier school compounds.
The “Improved School Yard Competition,” which saw the participation of 15 primary schools in Region Three, was organized by the Environmental Community Health Organization (ECHO) in order to raise awareness of environmental issues and educate students on their roles in preserving and protecting the natural environment.
Blankenburg Primary School won first prize in the competition.
Its Head Teacher Raywattie Bridgewater remarked that the competition has “motivated both the students and the teachers to keep their school yard clean.” She said that the school placed a lot of emphasis on maintaining a completely litter-free yard and organized sanitation exercises twice daily. Bridgewater also remarked that the students were very “willing and cooperative” and as a result they plan to set up an ECHO Club in the near future.
Den Amstel Primary School placed second in the competition. Speaking on behalf of the Headmistress of the school, Nadir Itaphossein said that the students were very proud but “naturally disappointed.” He told this newspaper that the students worked hard at ensuring that their school yard was in a state in accordance with the requirements of the competition and they even planted flowers along the fence. Itaphossein believed that they might have lost points due to the rubbish heap at the back of the school, which was the result of a wedding that took place shortly before the judging.
Cornelia Ida Primary School, which hosted the prize giving ceremony, placed third in the competition. The school carried out its clean-up campaign by organizing sanitation exercises daily. The members of the ECHO Club at the school, who wore badges, also did random checks to ensure the bathrooms and drains were clean. They also planted flowers but many were destroyed by goats and other animals that would enter the school yard.
All 15 schools were given three weeks to tidy their compounds and were judged by Cleveland Davidson, an Environmental Health Officer, on various aspects such as waste disposal, over-hanging trees, drains, washrooms and the frontage of the school compound.
Royston King, the Executive Director of ECHO, in an interview with this newspaper, stated that he was very pleased with the response from the schools. When asked how he plans to keep the students motivated to maintain a tidy school yard, King mentioned the setting up of ECHO Clubs within the schools to be responsible for raising awareness and educating students.
He said that ECHO is working with teachers who will act as coaches within the clubs and will supervise various ECHO activities. King also said that there will be another competition next term at the schools in Region Three and that other projects are already underway among eight schools in Georgetown as well as schools in Linden and Malali.
ECHO will also be hosting an awareness program later this month that will focus on climate change. Expected guest speakers include members of the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Brazilian Ambassador to Guyana.