School awareness program on electronic waste (e-waste) and sustainable lifestyle

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) was involved in developing and implementing an activity-based module on e-waste and health impact to sensitize and create awareness among school children. This school-based awareness program was initiated to address the growing problem of a staggering number of waste currently generated from the end of life electronic and electrical equipment. In India, the informal sector is involved in handling most of the e-waste: from dismantling to burning and discarding in open fields. Little care for personal protection or environmental pollution against hazardous toxins is given. Involvement of young children and women is particularly of concern due to the adverse effects on their health, safety and implication for intergenerational injustice. A module and a 4-month long school-based awareness program to implement the module were designed to provide children with the economic, environmental and social aspects related to ewaste recycling (also plastic) and to discuss the benefits of circular economy and choosing sustainable life style. Real-world activities were included to enable better understanding, create empathy and encourage solution. The program was conceived by Karo Sambhav, a CPCB authorized, environmentally and socially responsible organization working to provide responsible solutions for awareness, collection and recycling of e-waste in India. CEH partnered with Karo Sambhav to develop the content specially including the health impact on workers and the general public which was otherwise missing in the module. CEH also carried out the program across 18 schools in Delhi with the help of implementation partner HRIDAY.

Activities undertaken:

Module development: CEH developed the module on e-waste and health impact which was integrated with other 6 modules (Sustainable consumption and production; circular economy; introduction via EPR; plastic waste; let’s make it possible; climate change and culture).

Induction Workshop: The school program was initiated with an induction workshop. The workshop was held at Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar on 31st August 2018. Two teachers from all the participating schools i.e. 25 teachers from 18 schools enthusiastically participated in the workshop. Representatives from CEH, HRIDAY and Karo Sambhav were present during the workshop. The workshop was conducted with the aim to introduce the modules and train the teachers for successful implementation of the module based activities. During the workshop, teachers were divided into groups to come up with ideas of activities based on each module which can be implemented at the school level and to further discuss the modules. Following the discussion, teachers came up with their feedback and suggestive activities. The session included description about use of a mobile application which was used as a platform for sharing pictures, videos and documents of relevant school activities. Teachers’ queries were answered by representatives of CEH and other partners.

Activities undertaken by the schools: Knowledge building sessions as part of environmental or science education; quiz sessions; theme-based group discussions; student presentations; intra-school poster/model competitions for generating awareness around e-waste and plastic; signature campaigns; assembly talks; community outreach; ewaste collection drive by all schools for responsible recycling.

Best practices sharing workshop: The objective of this workshop was to review the implementation of the curriculum, share the best practices and encourage low-performing schools. The mid-term workshop was organized at Darbari Lal DAV Model School, Pitampura on 24th December, 2018. During the induction workshop. Dr. Poornima Prabhakaran, Deputy Director-CEH and Dr. Shyamala Mani, Consultant-CEH, were present in the workshop along with the principal of the host school and Karo Sambhav representatives. They provided insights into the various environmental issues, potential solutions and called for thoughtful engagement from students. Students from participating schools enthusiastically performed various activities in the form of street drama, poetry, music, skits and pledges. The talent and innovation of middle-school students in getting scientific environmental health messages with ease and comfort were on full display. Representative teachers from participating schools also shared various activities undertaken, lesson plans developed, and reflections on the school program. Many of them highlighted the timeliness of the program in the current situation in India and the need for continuing the activities even after the program ends. Finally, CEH, HRIDAY and Karo Sambhav and the teachers discussed about the remaining activities in the program, timeline and the final felicitation workshop.

Felicitation Workshop: The program ended with a final workshop conducted at the Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh on 28th February 2019 to felicitate the schools for the successful participation in the program. Certificates of participation were distributed to representative teachers of all participating schools. Five schools were awarded in different categories for the level of participation, completion of the activities, collection of e-waste, and community outreach. At the end of the programme, a feedback form was shared with all the participating school teacher coordinators. Most of the schools rated the programme as excellent. Some of the teachers shared that the programme should be implemented on a regular basis to reinforce the concept.

Outcome/Reach: The programme was implemented in 18 schools across Delhi. 15000 students from class I – IX were sensitized through the involvement of 40 teachers.