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Tree planting programme to green the island’s schools

All schools in Cyprus need to become greener to help neighbourhoods up their game, Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris said on Tuesday after a meeting at the ministry with the slogan ‘Greening the school, Greening the neighborhood’.

“Today we start the dialogue and we all wish to see our schools become greener day by day,” he said.

The programme was adopted after a suggestion by the Green Party and is part of the ministry’s broader policy to make education sustainable. It aims to encourage the planting of trees and an environmental consciousness in students.

The programme will be implemented in all primary and high schools.

“Schools will act as a ‘tree nursery’ by assigning green spaces in which students will cultivate and turn school yards to small botanic gardens,” explained Aravella Zachariou, coordinator of environmental education.

“In cases where schools do not have the appropriate spaces for a green space, then the community or the municipality will assign a small space that the school can cultivate,” she added.

The programme appears to be a way to make the new fencing in schools more aesthetically pleasing with the addition of climbing plants on them.

Through this programme children will learn to take responsibilities and be active members of society by taking part in collaborative projects.

“Starting from the schools and moving to the community, the aim is to improve the microclimate, increase urban green areas, and develop volunteering skills as well as environmental consciousness,” Zachariou added.

The programme is expected to start in December or January, lasting for a three-year period and all involved students will be given a green certificate at the end of the programme by the ministry.

“The success of the programme depends on the cooperation of all of us and the practical support of the schools that we take for granted,” Hambiaouris said.

Other environmental projects suggested by the minister to the council of ministers include the distribution of 110,000 packages to students with a reusable water bottle and a bamboo straw under the slogan ‘Which ‘p’ do you adopt, Plastic or Planet?’ and the recycling of used cooking oil in 520 schools.

The minister also mentioned the collaboration with EAC to put photovoltaic panels in schools’ roofs which has already began.

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