The "Green School Year" and the responsibility of an educational organisation to address environmental issues

A very different opening ceremony for the new school year, with no balloons, glitter confetti or celebrations filled with plastic plates, has taken place at the Vietnam Australia International School (VAS). Nevertheless, the exciting and meaningful atmosphere of the first day of school was not affected because this year, more than 20,000 VAS students, parents, teachers and staff have consented to carry out a greater mission - to preserve the living environment for the harmonious development of both nature and humanity.

The responsibility of an educational organisation to address environmental issues

Breaking the balance of nature and polluting the water, soil and air will not only cause 77% of the wildlife to be lost on Earth but also directly affects daily life of humans in terms of the quality of the food, water and air we consume every day. Compared to other countries in the region and the world, Viet Nam is currently on "red alert" as it is revealed to be discharging the fourth highest volume of plastic waste into the sea and HCM City, where we are based, is ranked 15th in the list of the most polluted cities in Southeast Asia.

As the largest educational organisation in HCM City with nearly 9,500 students and a great place nurturing the future generation of the country, VAS knows it is time to share its responsibility with the community and foster its students to take this responsibility as Vietnamese citizens. Accordingly, from the 2019-2020 school year, VAS will implement the environmental project "Green School Year" with practical programmes for its students, parents, teachers, staff and partners to participate in. This confirms that VAS will commit to support all environmental protection activities.

Nurturing the Green Generation – The long-term educational mission of VAS

In a letter sent to students on the occasion of the new school year, Mr. Marcel van Miert – VAS’s Executive Chairman shared: “I know it is not too late to raise awareness of environmental protection even though Viet Nam is taking slower steps than developed countries in the world. But I have observed significant efforts and activities in recent times by the government, HCM City, news agencies, businesses, families and even Vietnamese young people at your age to reduce waste, protect the environment and preserve nature. Those actions are gradually leading to a big change! More than ever, VASers now need to join hands to take the responsibility of a Vietnamese citizen before becoming global citizens.”

VAS’s message - Be a part of solution not pollution

From September, VAS students will share this inspirational project through “VAS Talks 2019” series and other contests including “Green Corner”, “VAS Community Programme” and “VAS Green Day Run” – a fundraising event to plant trees, with an aim to spread the message and bring practical solutions to protect the planet. Sets of waste segregation trashbins have been placed in seven campuses of VAS to help students start a routine of reducing and sorting waste at school, as well as encouraging them to save paper, electricity and water; minimise food waste, actively reuse, recycle and plant more trees.

Mr. Marcel van Miert emphasised: “Through all these activities, VAS wants students to be able to build positive thoughts, habits and actions and from that create a green lifestyle of civilised citizens – the Green Generation of VAS! Furthermore, I hope every student and every family will join us - the whole VAS community, to light the fire of hope in restoring the fresh living environment which the whole world is joining hands with.”

Turn the school into a Green Community

The school understands that it is difficult to spread the project and make it practical and long-term without the help of all the school stakeholders, therefore, VAS is trying to build a Green Community - a place that connects all VAS’ teachers, staff, parents, students and partners with a high sense of environmental responsibility.

“If you are a nanny, maintenance staff, driver or security guard, you can help students avoid wasting food, save electricity, water and other energy sources by regularly monitoring, checking and shutting off devices when not in use; as well as propose environmentally friendly solutions in the reuse, storage and operation of vehicles and other equipment. If you are a teacher or employee, you can start saving paper, reducing waste and disposable plastic products, closely monitoring environmental protection commitment terms when working with partners and suppliers. More importantly, we all have to be the good examples and also the inspiration for the students in this project.” Mr. Marcel said.

He also called upon nearly 10,000 VAS’s parents to become the role models for students at home – to monitor, remind, motivate and compliment them for the effort they have made to protect the environment; to propose better solutions and to accompany the school in environmental projects at VAS.