By Deji Abdulwahab
Ibadan – Secondary school students in Akinyele and Lagelu Local Government Areas of Oyo State have commended the Educate the Woman Initiative (EWI) for executing environmental education and tree planting projects in their schools.
The students expressed the commendation in Ibadan on Thursday when an inspection team from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) visited the project sites.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that GEF supported EWI, a non-governmental organisation, with a grant of 47,083 U.S. dollars to educate secondary school students and communities about environmental sanitation and the importance of tree planting.
The students, who noted that EWI began the implementation of the project in 2017, said that the project had encouraged them to keep their school premises clean and beautify their surroundings with trees.
Prince Kolade, the President of Eco Club, Igbo Elerin Grammar School in Lagelu Local Government Area (LGA), said that apart from the fact that EWI trained the club in environmental sanitation strategies, it also provided them with tree seedlings to plant and nurse.
According to him, the club has now started educating other students about environmental sanitation and tree planting.
“We have started planting some trees; we planted trees in the school premises. We have also started educating other students on the conservation and protection of the ecosystem.
“We also use a tracking device which EWI gave us to compile the names of these students and oversee their application of what we taught them.
“We have also conveyed the message to our homes by telling our parents that instead of using firewood to cook, they can get coal briquettes because briquettes are pollution free,’’ he said.
Paulina Kajola, who is also an official of the club, said the NGO’s environmental education had positively changed students’ mind-set toward the school environment.
“Now, we teach students on the need to stop indiscriminate dump of waste and ensure that they put their garbage in the waste baskets which are provided by the school management.
“The school management has provided these waste bins in order to prevent the littering of the school premises with rubbish. We have also planted trees to provide shade and beautify the school,’’ Kajola said.
Mr Olagunju Afeez, a teacher and Coordinator of the Eco Club, commended the NGO for the programme which, he said, had changed the school environment significantly.
“Actually, before they (EWI) came, things were quite bad, if I must be sincere. Indiscriminate refuse dumping had been a thorny issue, as the students dumped their garbage anyhow.
“But since the inauguration of our Eco Club, we have been able to perfect the beautification and sanitation of the environment.
“In fact, the students have really learnt a lot because EWI facilitators used to come here regularly to train them.
“So, things have changed dramatically. If you look at the environment, you will see that everywhere is clean and tidy,’’ Afeez said.
Also speaking, Jessica Viashima, the Secretary of Eco Club, Ojoo High School in Akinyele LGA, said that she had embarked on a campaign tagged “Keep Oyo State Clean’’ after the training which EWI gave the club members.
“Now, if I see anybody dumping waste indiscriminately, I often tell them `Keep Oyo State Clean’; even in my own house, I also advise other tenants that they should not dirty the environment.
“Some people even call me Madam Eco but I like it that way because I strongly believe that if I start the sanitation campaign in the home setting, it can spread to other places.
“I have young ones and if they keep the campaign going, I believe that their own families will benefit a lot from it in the end,’’ Jessica said.
Mr Ogundimu Olusoji, a teacher in Ojoo High School and the Coordinator of its Eco Club, said that when the project had educated members of the club to know how to plant and nurture trees.
“Our students, as members of the Eco Club, have gained a lot; even I have shared the experiences which I gained with my children.
“On a weekend, I brought my children here to teach them about tree planting and management techniques.
“Even when I travelled to Lagos, I had to educate my father on how he can plant economic trees and make good money, without having to wait for his children to come and feed him.
“So, we have gained a lot from the EWI Environmental Education project,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Executive Director of EWI, Mrs Rebecca Aderele, said that with the GEF support, her organisation had been able to execute the project in 10 schools in Lagelu and Akinyele LGAs.
Aderele said that the organisation had enrolled 20 students as Eco Club members in each of the schools, adding that it had also trained them in environmental sanitation, tree planting and the use of coal briquettes to cook meals.
She added that the project been able to mobilise students to plant and nurse over 3,000 economic trees in their schools. (NAN)