Uruguay School Teaches Students to Respect the Environment

09 March, 2017

A new school in Uruguay is teaching about environmental sustainability and practicing what it teaches.

The school in the small town of Jaureguiberry was built with recycled materials. Clean energy powers the building. The students learn to grow their own organic food. And, a regular curriculum is combined with lessons on farming, recycling and water conservation.

The 43 students at the school grow their own crops like tomatoes, basil, and strawberries. The food they grow they get to eat too.

The Uruguayan organization Tagma developed this school called Public School 294. Tagma supports responsible and sustainable ways of living and using natural resources. U.S. architect Michael Reynolds designed the school which opened in February 2016. Reynolds is known for his advocacy of sustainable building designs.

Teaching sustainability and community

This alternative school system is popular with the students. One of them, Felipe Sanchez, says the curriculum makes him more interested in class.

"In my other school, we didn't plant anything and it was not fun. I was bored and my friends did not understand me nor treat me well. In this school, my friends like me and we can plant and do a lot of things."

Solar energy powers the school. The school also uses filtered rainwater.

Sixty percent of the building is made of recycled materials that the community collected.

Students learn to grow crops at public school 294 in Uruguay
Students learn to grow crops at public school 294 in Uruguay

The school seeks tries to support a culture of community in the classroom. Students from different grade levels learn together and help each other.

Rita Montans is a teacher at Public School No 294.

"Our core teaching is based on the principles of sustainability, environmental protections, and coexistence, so naturally it creates an environment where it is easier to make relations. The multi-grade system enables a fourth grade child to study with a third grade student and monitor him or her. A second grade student can be in pre-school and a first grade child can be with the third grade students."

The school is still young. But its teachers and administrators are hopeful that the lessons their students are learning will last a lifetime.

"I hope that when younger children graduate from here, they take away with them this seed we sowed just like we grow plants in the nursery, and that the ideas to protect the environment and to live in harmony with the environment remain important."

I'm Phil Dierking.

Faith Lapidus reported this story for VOANews. Phil Dierking adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Do you think that all schools should teach sustainable lifestyles? Why? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

conservation n. the protection of animals, plants, and natural resources

crops – n. a crop (such as tobacco or cotton) that is grown to be sold rather than for use by the farmer

curriculum n. the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc.

organic – adj. grown or made without the use of artificial chemicals

recycling – n. to make something new from something that has been used before

sow – v. to plant seeds in an area of ground