When Sandra Cunha attended secondary school in the mid-90s, environmental issues did not go beyond 3R - reduce, reuse, recycle. Today, he is proudly responsible for teaching at a college where all students - from the first year of the 1st cycle of basic education to the 12th year - have a mandatory subject that addresses, among other fundamental themes of the present and the future , environmental issues and the sustainability of the planet. Personal and Social Development, as it is called, is equivalent to the subject of Education for Citizenship and Development taught in public schools and whose curriculum includes topics such as environmental education and interculturality.
“The environment is a theme that is increasingly worked on in schools”, explains Sandra Cunha, pedagogical director of Real Colégio de Portugal, to Jornal Económico. “There is a curriculum, right away, in Study of the Environment, then in Natural Sciences and, later, in Biology, but the question extends to other disciplines and areas, mainly in schools that work on projects, as is our case . We bring together all these themes that are curricular and develop them in another way and in another scope ”.
Water, the source of life for all living beings, is a fundamental theme. Every year we waste millions of cubic meters - in 2018 alone 172 million m3 were lost in Portugal. At Real Colégio in Lisbon, there has been a longstanding commitment to raising the awareness of children and young people to the need to save on water consumption, through action. An indication for the bathroom faucets is clearly visible so that after use they are well closed. Another recommendation is to use the smallest flush button whenever it is sufficient. "Savings are fundamental and it is not part of the teacher to say that they do this or that way, it is the students themselves who produce the message, create the slogans and posters", he stresses.
Real Colégio has 359 students and is private in nature, but there are also many public schools implementing good environmental practices. The Cardoso Lopes School Group is a case in point. The 'girl' of the educational community of this educational establishment in Amadora is the ecological garden. Used as a teaching resource by students and teachers, in March it gained an automatic irrigation system. Objective to avoid wasting water and increase production. The concern with such a scarce resource is so great that on rainy days it is common to see Operational Assistants taking advantage of the precipitated water for cleaning actions. Good practice is documented on the group's website so that everyone can see and learn from the example.
Both the Cardoso Lopes School Group and the Real Colégio de Portugal are part of the Eco-Schools Project, which in 2019/2020 recognized 62 Eco-Schools. Promoted by the Foundation for Environmental Education, whose Portuguese section is the Blue Flag of Europe Association (ABAE), this international educational program encourages the development of activities, "aiming to improve the environmental performance of schools", in order to contribute "to change behavior and the impact of environmental concerns on different generations ”. The work developed by the students is recognized and awarded.
Challenges, contests, programs, in short, all kinds of possible and imaginary initiatives are developed by entities, institutions and companies, aiming at the better use of water by new generations. The Águas de Portugal Group, for example, develops actions on its own or in partnership with the aforementioned ABAE or the DECO association, school groups and other associations in the sector, producing and distributing information and educational materials and materials to the entire school community. The film “Water is a fantastic world”, integrated into the resources of the Ministry of Education and AQUAQUIZ, a pedagogical game designed to be played in the classroom by students in the 2nd and 3rd cycles of Basic Education, also available in an app are just two samples.
The Environmental Education Center Água 360º from Águas de Portugal in Lisbon and the Environmental Education Center of Tejo Atlântico allow unforgettable interactive experiences, such as the EPAL Water Museum, visited every year by thousands of Portuguese children and young people.