Category Archives: Schools

Eco-schools and SDGS

By David Wandabi – Programs Officer – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, KOEE

#SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Quality Education

The Eco-Schools methodology is a powerful tool for providing quality education for sustainable development at all school levels. Its whole institutional approach (WIA) ensures an inclusive implementation throughout the whole kindergarten, school or campus, and the involvement of all children and students.

Eco-schools Kenya employ a whole institutional approach that uses schools as entry points to reach communities through pupils, teachers, parents, non-teaching staff, all departments and other stakeholders of the school to address local challenges of sustainable development. WIA requires not only the reorientation of teaching content and methodology, but also school and facility management that is in line with sustainable development as well as the cooperation of the institution with sustainable development stakeholders in the community (UNESCO, 2016). Eco-schools strategy acknowledges that all departments in a school need to synergize for sustainable development action. 

Some of the benefits of the WIA include: efficient use of resources hence the institution saves money, greening of school grounds, creating extra source of income from the micro-projects, creation of environmental awareness, development of desirable skills and attitudes for sustainable development, development of a sense of belonging in the school and ownership of sustainability initiatives, enabling acquisition of new professional learning opportunities by the teachers, providing opportunity to have hands on learning opportunity using sustainable development micro-projects, contribution to solving local development challenges by the school and community and thus reducing their ecological footprints significantly and strengthening relationships with families and local community (UNESCO, 2016).

Whole Institutional Approach Case Study

An Eco-school that best demonstrates the whole institutional approach is Watema Primary School. The school is located in Kaiti Sub-county in Makueni County of Kenya. It has a student population of 463 (239 boys and 213 girls) with 15 teachers. 

School governance

The school has an inclusive Eco-committee including the head teacher, Eco-schools coordinator, representatives from school board of management, parents and pupil representative from all classes. Additionally, the school has also co-opted a civil society representative in the committee. Being in arid area, the committee is proactive in guiding the school on how to get the best out of their environment to make learning as enjoyable as possible.

Facilities and Operations

The school has strived in making itself a model of sustainability in the area, embracing a number of green initiatives to promote self-reliance in the community in order to eradicate poverty in the area.  The school has two solar panels to supplement electricity to cut energy costs. The school has four roof water harvesting tanks with a capacity of 10,000 litres each to supplement their water which they get from a dam outside the school. With the area having erratic rainfall patterns, the water harvesting system ensures the school has water for drinking, cooking, washing hands and watering plants for over two months. The water has enabled the school grow vegetables, sweet potatoes and fruit trees for food and income generation. The school also grows fodder to make hay for sale. The school has a nursery for indigenous trees to provide seedlings for sale. The harvested water has also been used to construct hand wash facilities near the toilets to enhance sanitation and hygiene.

The main outcomes of the green initiatives are:

  • The pupils have been able to learn practical skills in the conservation of the environment.
  • The pupils have been taught ways of being self-reliant through starting green enterprise for income generation.
  • The community has been enlightened on the importance of green entrepreneurship for sustainable development.

Teaching and Learning

The Eco-school initiatives have enhanced teaching of sustainable development issues in all subject areas in the school as teachers use the projects as teaching and learning resources. Students are provided with an opportunity to learn issues like enterprise development, water harvesting, tree nursery development, irrigation among others which offers them a platform to create green jobs.  This has helped in propagating the teaching of critical, creative and futures thinking as students are challenged to be innovative in finding practical solutions to their local challenges. In this way, the pupils are contributing to solving local development challenges and thus reducing their ecological footprints.

Community Partnerships

The school is working with community members in implementing the projects for learning and teaching. Community members and groups visit the school to buy vegetables, tree seedlings and fodder and the school has also influenced other schools around them to embrace environmental conservation. Additionally, the school is working closely with the County Government of Makueni which donated two water harvesting tanks to the school to support the Eco-school initiative. The school uses local experts from the community to teach the students on various farming technologies. 

Roof water harvesting system, solar and vegetable gardening projects implemented in partnership with the community at Watema Primary School


UNESCO (2016). Getting Climate Ready: A Guide for Schools on Climate Action. UNESCO.Paris.

Eco-schools Program and Poverty Reduction

By David Wandabi – Programs Officer – Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) & Eco-schools Coordinator, KOEE

Students from Goibei High School packing honey from school hives for sale
Photo Credits : Alvin Sika, KOEE
Students from Kariobangi South Primary School showing items made from recycled bottle-tops for sale. Photo Credits : Alvin Sika, KOEE

Educational changes necessary for poverty reduction should not only be content-related but require approaches to teaching and learning that are transformative, community-engaged and relevant to contemporary and future societies- quality education (UNESCO, 2013).  Such changes need to be infused by values and ethics that are counter-hegemonic and different to the ‘norm’. Based upon experiences of Kenya Eco-schools Program in formal education in Kenyan primary and secondary schools, it has led toimproved teacher quality and professionalism, enhanced learning environments, innovative curricular approaches, improved school management capacity, and better accountability systems as some of the key drivers of quality education that has helped alleviate extreme poverty by formal education over the decade (Otieno, 2015).

Eco-Schools framework provides numerous opportunities to enhance learner-centred education, through contextualization of learning, through strengthening school-community interactions/partnerships and through enabling active involvement of learners in decision making and a range of contextually meaningful Eco-schools practices. This enables creation of a nexus between formal, informal and non-formal learning (Odek, 2006).

The Eco-schools programme promotes Climate Change Education for Sustainable Agribusiness Development and Risk management(CCESDAR) strategy that provides a useful tool to address challenges of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity in technical, entrepreneurial and industrial training institutes (TVETs) (UNICEF, 2013). Investment in greeningof schools and communities has helped in addressing poverty and unemployment especially among the youths. This has been seen in innovations in agriculture for increased production and value addition developed, e.g. active school gardens for food production using improved farming methods such as organic farming and mulching. This has helped increase food production, make savings for the schools and impart practical skills among learners for survival. Rain water harvesting promoted in schools – has created jobs for artisans, clean water for schools and communities. Biogas technology promoted for green energy, has created jobs for artisans, produces slurry for organic farming and reduces greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) Emissions. Green jobs have also been witnessed in nursery establishment and tree planting in the schools.


Odeke, G.J.E. (2006). Eco-Schools. Completion report for pilot phase 1 for Kenya: Nairobi (Unpublished report), Kenya Organisation for Environmental Education.

Otieno, D.and Odeke, G.Eco-Schools Handbook Starter Pack, Nairobi: Romlan Publishers and Cincom Systems, 2006.

Otieno, D. Faith Based ESD Toolkit, Nairobi: Jacaranda Designs, 2013.

UNESCO.National Journeys Towards ESD, Paris: UNESCO, 2013

UNICEF. Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in the Education Sector: Resource Manual, New York: UNICEF, 2013.

M’bweka Primary School Promoting Livelihoods Development and Marine Life Conservation

By David Wandabi – ESD Programs Officer & Eco-schools Coordinator and Lynn Modester

M’bweka Primary is a public mixed day school started in 1967 and located in Kwale County, Matuga Sub County, Waa location, Matuga sub location, M’bweka village in coastal Kenya. The school has 350 learners from ECD to class eight and with 12 teachers. 

The school is one of the pioneer Eco-schools in coastal region of Kenya having joined the program in 2008. With the school located in a poverty stricken area characterized by food insecurity and water scarcity among others; it largely focuses on projects that provide food and generate income. 

Mbweka Primary school students demonstrating how to make organic charcoal briquettes. Photo Credit: Alvin Sika, KOEE

The school Eco-cub started by practicing organic agriculture and agroforestry to localize the Kenyan curriculum. Then it scaled up to Eco-school by starting collaborating with parents, villagers and other stakeholders to plant and harvest trees sustainably,  recycle waste by making learning materials using waste papers as papier-mâché, make compost manure and organic briquettes as wood fuel reduce deforestation.        

The school grows Moringa trees, banana trees, and green vegetables for counter food insecurity. They focus more on Moringa tree as it is food supplement with the leaves having high nutritional value in proteins, carbohydrates and mineral salts. The leaves are dried and grinded, packed and sold locally. The seeds are used as medicine for blood pressure and diabetes and ulcers among others as well as used for water purification. The Moringa seed pods and leaves are also used to make briquettes. The school also sells Moringa tree seedlings. The Eco-School members have taken this as an opportunity to create awareness on how to use the Moringa through value addition. 

M’bweka Primary School has taken their environmental excellence a notch higher by being an environmental conservation model in their community. The school takes part in marine conservation drives including beach clean-ups and campaigns to protect marine wildlife. The school took part in annual Sea Turtle festival on the 16thof June, 2019. The festival highlights the importance of turtles as a great tourist attraction in Kwale County, which are slowly dying out due to various human activities including sand harvesting, hunting and fishing. M’bweka students took part in a beach cleanup and were awarded certificate for outstanding contribution to marine conservation.  They further adopted a sea turtle nest at Diani beach as well as a green sea turtle. All these helped in promoting marine conservation education.

KAMUTHATHA PRIMARY BOARDING SCHOOL Promoting Resource Efficiency and Self-Efficiency in Schools

By David Wandabi and Lynn Oburu – KOEE

Kamuthatha Primary Boarding School started in 1987. It was an initiative of the ACK Mothers Union of Nembure Parish. The school is located 25 kilometres from Embu town, 4 kilometres of Embu Meru Highway between Kithimu and Ena markets and next to ACK Kamuthatha All Saints Church in Embu County. The school lies on a 15 acre piece of land. It is three streamed, starting from class 5 to 8. Currently, it has 630 pupils, 21 teachers, and 20 non-teaching staff.  

The school joined the Eco-schools Programme in 2017. The main problem faced by the school is inadequate water. Being a boarding school, the school needs a considerable amount of water for the pupils and farming. The school largely relies on one borehole for water which insufficient, especially during dry spells. Stretched dry spells lead to a significant decrease in their crop production on their farm as well as insufficient water for livestock.

The school has several exemplary innovative projects that have been started as a response to a number of challenges in an attempt to make the school self-sufficient. The school is an Eco school that takes its sustainability seriously. With a population of about 630 pupils, it has been able to provide for its students largely with resources from the local environment.

The school practices extensive rainwater harvesting using both underground and surface tanks. The school also recycles wastewater to supplement rainwater that is mainly used to irrigate crops, flowers, and trees. The school gets over 75% of its food from the school farm. They grow pineapples, bananas, tomatoes, coffee, kales, maize, sugarcane, tree tomatoes, pumpkins, and thorn melons. The farm produce is firstly sold to the school itself at a subsidized price. The surplus is sold to the local community. The employs complete organic agriculture with manure generated from livestock, kitchen and other organic wastes. The school also treats human waste to provide slurry used on the school farm.

Livestock keeping is quite remarkable in the school. They have an assortment of animals including 5 dairy cows, 5 beef cattle, pigs, goats and layers and broilers chicken. These provide milk, eggs, and meat for the school. The dairy cows produce up to 100 litres on a normal day and up to 200 litres per day when all cows are being milked. The school slaughters a bull for meat weekly. The animal feeds and fodder is mainly acquired from the school farm where they are grown.

Energy conservation is also a key project in the school. The school has a solar heating system to boil bathing water for the students. It has 5 solar water heating system for the boys and 3 for the girls. Each system has a capacity of heating 300 litres of water per day totaling to 2,400 litres heated in a day. The school is planning to start a biogas initiative as an alternative source of fuel in their cooking to reduce over-reliance on firewood. This is necessary since the school has its own bakery that provides bread for the students, teachers and non-teaching staff. The school has a woodlot that provides firewood for cooking. Additionally, the school does extensive tree planting across its campus. 

As central to the Eco-schools process, students are at the center of Kamuthatha Primary School’s sustainability activities. Students are actively involved in growing and watering crops and trees. The students also take part in feeding the animals as well as cleaning their sheds. This is all geared towards imparting practical skills, values, and knowledge to the students as catalysts of green growth and sustainable development. One amazing initiative is how the school uses simple science experiment in preserving their grains in locally modified metallic silos. The school dries their grains which are then stored in the silos. To preserve the grains, candles are lit in the upper parts of the silos to draw out any oxygen to prevent any possible survival of any living organism that could otherwise lead to maize spoilage. Students are also exposed to a home-made wooden box to ripen bananas. The box is tightly sealed to help fruits ripen in time, generally within 2 days.

The school has sustainability at the center of their activities, a practice which the whole school subscribes to. In the words of the headteacher Mr. Francis Njue, “Nature is unforgiving, we destroy it slowly, but it destroys us at once.” He further emphasizes the need to equip students to issues of sustainability as early as possible if we want to cultivate a culture of sustainability in society.

Mr. Njue says, “Children are like seedlings and as we care for seedlings to become healthy and productive forests; we should groom children into the forests we want them to be.”