Celebrating our Strategic Themes

Environmental Consciousness

Theme Statement:

ISY will support the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) by developing Environmental Consciousness through programs, policies and procedures, including a “greener” campus.

Setting the Foundations

ISY drafted a Five Year Environmental Consciousness Plan including a campus committee of students, teachers and parents; the development of a common definition and understanding of Environmental Consciousness in the ISY community; the creation of a baseline for our current carbon footprint; exploring carbon offsetting; incorporating Environmental Consciousness into the curriculum and encouraging leadership and any contractors working at ISY to make Environmental Consciousness a part of all facility projects.

The students of ISY have the environment as a top priority in their daily lives so embedding this theme into school life was a natural extension of an already present theme. ISY created a committee to partner with the organization Eco Schools. After completing an environmental audit they helped us develop plans to become an officially recognized ‘Eco School’. Alongside this initiative, faculty worked together to weave environmental themes into the curriculum and developed a number of environmentally themed extracurricular activities. Finally the ISY administration looked at long term plans to make the ISY facilities an overall greener campus.

Environmental Consciousness in the Curriculum

The Elementary School
From the outset, environmental consciousness was included in the scope and sequencing of curriculum planning. Units dedicated to the environment were included in every Grade level with faculty being encouraged to come up with innovative ways to introduce environmental themes.

One such example was a bird box building project undertaken by the grade four team. Students were split into groups to design their bird boxes and learned about what habitats are needed for different kinds of birds. They then worked with the High School design technology teacher to actually build their bird boxes in the maker space making a nice crossover with another theme; technology integration. A camera was added to one of the boxes and birds have continued to build nests in the box since it was built.

Another example this time from grade three saw students interview community members about what they thought the environmental issues of Yangon were. They then researched those issues and recorded a narration to explain the problems and solutions they had come up with. Artwork was produced and the whole project made into short films which was then showcased to parents.

Kindergarten students learn about the environment, waste and recycling. An aquarium is filled with dirt and various items added including paper, food waste and plastic. This is then dug up weekly to see what items are best for the soil. Students then bring all kinds of items from home and come up with ways that these can be recycled and reused in the classroom.

Grade two students lead an assembly on pollution and climate change presenting posters and giving short talks on environmental issues.

The Secondary School

Environmental themes were also included in the Secondary School curriculum planning at an early stage and in all grades. Physics students in Grade 9 were set the annual task of calculating the ISY carbon footprint which was part of the Eco Schools recommendations. Students worked with administrative departments looking at how much ISY traveled in a given year, be that to local sports events, or international tournaments, professional development for teachers or the school buses. They then looked at a host of other factors including energy consumption and school waste. This all then fed into a matrix which would help the Eco Schools team with figuring out goals and measurements for reducing our carbon footprint. Subsequent environmental activity could then be analyzed and the saving in CO2 emissions offset against our targets with an overall aim of carbon neutrality.

IB Biology in the classroom looks at climate change and deforestation in the farming industry. A group of students took this one step further by creating a group dedicated to raising awareness about the problems caused as a result of large quantities of meat being consumed. They started a campaign called ‘Meatless Mondays’ encouraging the community to forgo eating meat on Mondays. This extended to working with on-campus vendors to not serve meat on Mondays and was promoted by announcements on the school TV displays around campus.

Grade seven humanities students engage in a unit all about how civilizations are affected by drought. They are encouraged to make comparative analysis of different societies to see the environmental impact of these issues. What happened to the Mayan culture and what did modern day Dubai do instead?

High School students focus on SDG based themes one of which is SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation. Work across Grade levels led to a STEM Fair where high school students presented to elementary school students ideas on how to improve water quality in poor areas including actual water filters made in chemistry classes.

Events, Initiatives and After School Activities

In line with the Service Learning Strategic theme, the Week Without Walls high school trips were reinvented. Many of these trips became service learning based but with an environmental theme. As a result, many positive environmental activities took place.

In December 2018, Grade 9 ISY students helped build a library during a Week Without Walls trip in Pyin Oo Lwin, a service learning trip centered around sustainability. They worked together to mine the clay, make bricks and mortar, and then lay the bricks and plaster it to make the walls. On another trip a group of students built a greenhouse made entirely out of plastic bottles and other trips focussed on making solar panels from scratch.

‘Trash Hero’ and 2002 ISY alumni Phone Kyaw Moe Myint (Carl), worked with students to pick up trash in the streets of Yangon during an ISY Service Learning Activity day.

Following the carbon footprint work done in the classroom and the desire by students to contribute towards a neutral carbon footprint at ISY, a relationship sprung up with Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park. A new Week Without Walls trip was created that brought students to the park where they cleared unproductive and degraded mangrove forests and planted several hundred new trees in their place. A subsequent video was produced by another service learning group to document this trip and highlight the environmental issues they were looking to tackle.

An impromptu classroom walkout at ISY in support of the Global Climate strike movement literally made the headlines when an article written by Global, the group dedicated to reporting on Service Learning activities, made the front page of one of the leading educational magazines, The International Educator (TIE).

An environmental student led group worked with the recycling company Recycglo to introduce proper recycling options on campus at ISY. This was followed by a partnership with the food waste and composting organization, Bokashi. Students, parents and staff were trained on how to treat food waste properly, eventually turning it into compost that could be used on the school grounds. Many members of the community also started composting at home.

The work on composting led to a fantastic initiative by students to help deal with localized air pollution. ISY monitors air quality carefully making sure the air is good enough for students to engage in aerobic activities during PE. It was noticed that at a certain time of year, the air quality was consistently poor during the mornings caused by local leaf burning. The students then made leaflets with tips on composting leaves as opposed to burning them and delivered them to local households around school. This led to a training workshop at school for local gardeners which actually improved the air quality around school in the mornings.

The pandemic did nothing to stop our students’ enthusiasm. Virtual Earth Day at ISY was run by two 10th Grade students using zoom meetings and break rooms to present and discuss environmental issues and was boosted by guest speakers dialing in from around the world.

The installation of solar panels on the roofs of ISY buildings became a further step towards carbon neutrality.  The project was initially begun by a student who had worked as an intern at Mandalay Yoma, a solar panel company, during the summer of 2019.  He then came back and presented to the Leadership team his ideas.  Another alumni, (Class of 2105) was working at Mandalay Yoma and helped take the project further culminating in the fitting of solar panels in February of 2021.  After being activated we now see that during the hours of 9am to about 4pm, ISY gets around 90% of its power from this fantastic renewable energy source.