- Holland Primary School in St. Elizabeth has been proactive at improving and protecting the natural environment by embracing an ecological approach and instilling a sense of responsibility in Jamaica’s future generation.
- The institution, which currently has more than 260 students enrolled, has garnered several prestigious national environmental achievements over the past five years.
- The school’s latest honour came via the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) ‘Schools Environment Programme (SEP) 2019’, where the institution again walked away as the champion school for the second straight year.
Holland Primary School in St. Elizabeth has been proactive at improving and protecting the natural environment by embracing an ecological approach and instilling a sense of responsibility in Jamaica’s future generation.
The institution, which currently has more than 260 students enrolled, has garnered several prestigious national environmental achievements over the past five years.
The school’s latest honour came via the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) ‘Schools Environment Programme (SEP) 2019’, where the institution again walked away as the champion school for the second straight year.
This also marked Holland Primary School’s third time winning the environmental competition, having won in 2015 during their first participation.
Speaking with JIS News, Principal, Simone Doctor, emphasised that it is “super important to protect the environment”.
“You can see we are on top of solid waste management. We separate, we containerise, we do not burn, and the place is very clean and well kept. Planting of trees and keeping the garden growing is part of the greenery,” Mrs. Doctor told JIS News.
“So, of course, we are also looking forward to taking home that [SEP] championship cup for 2020,” she added.
The school’s other environmental achievements include third and first place in the parish final of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) ‘Clean School Competition’ in 2013 and 2014, respectively; second in the Best Garden category of the 2018/19 LASCO Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme (REAP) Competition; and first place in the School Garden (Junior) Category of the St. Elizabeth 4-H Clubs Achievement Day 2019.
However, the activities do not stop there, as Holland Primary has been active in a number of initiatives, both on and off campus.
“In 2014, we implemented the no-burning policy, and the first thing we did was to seal off the incinerator because there was one here. We also separate and containerise [our solid waste]. The separation starts in the classroom, so each classroom would have containers where they would separate the plastics, bottles and papers within the classroom. Those bags are taken to the dumpster,” Mrs. Doctor explained.
“We have encouraged the living fence (made of living trees and shrubs) within the community [and] in 2017, we did a project based on restoring and preserving Holland Bamboo. We established a bamboo nursery where we got help from the bamboo men who came and showed us how to plant bamboo. When they sprout, we actually go out and replant them in the [Holland Bamboo] area,” she added.
Furthermore, Mrs. Doctor indicated that the institution’s thriving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle collection campaign includes public and private partnerships to properly dispose of the solid waste, long fingered for its negative environmental impact.
“We have a relationship with Recycling Partners of Jamaica, so as soon as we have an amount of bottles, we call them and they come in. We have also partnered with YS Estate. YS actually takes their bottles twice per week here, we then call Recycling Partners and they come for the bottles,” she said.
The school also partners with agencies such as the Social Development Commission (SDC); Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); Jamaica 4-H Clubs; Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information and others on tree-planting initiatives.
She also lauded the support from the school staff, parents and the wider community in assisting with the school’s greenery and environmental research.
The students also take pride in ensuring that the school compound is clean, a practice they reinforce in their own homes and communities.
“As soon as you drive into the schoolyard, you can see that it is maintained. We emphasise that no garbage can be on the ground. It’s break time now and the schoolyard has remained clean.
They take pride in their environment and cleanliness,” Mrs. Doctor said.
Holland Primary School student, Kadijah Smith, told JIS News that she and her peers at the institution will continue to play their part as champions of the environment.
“We plant trees, we educate people not to litter, not to burn garbage and not to harm the environment,” she said.
Another student, Dweeka Williams, said he focuses on picking up any garbage he finds on the ground and places it in the correct bin.
Meanwhile, JET’s Programme Director, Tamoy Singh Clarke, said Holland Primary exemplifies how a school successfully integrates environmental activities in the regular school programme.
“Holland is the type of school when you drive past it, it’s a very pretty school. How it looks, you feel very proud because the school is so clean, and that’s from the outside looking in. You haven’t even stepped in as yet,” she said.
“They have their gardening and garbage programmes, and you see the evidence on the ground of what they have been doing, and, therefore, you understand why it is they are successful in winning [environmental] competitions,” Ms. Singh Clarke said.