National Green Corps
The Journey of a Decade

Preeti R Kanaujia, Centre for Environment Education, Lucknow

National Green Corps (NGC) is a nationwide initiative of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India, popularly known as ‘a programme of eco-clubs’. The programme, initiated in 2001-2002, aims at building cadres of young children working towards environmental conservation for a more secure and sustainable planet.

A Nodal Agency selected by the State facilitates and coordinates the implementation of the programme in the State/UT including selection of schools, disbursement of eco-club grant, training of master trainers and monitoring of the overall implementation of the programme. A Resource Agency identified for the State assists the Nodal Agency and provides technical support needed for the programme.

A decade of NGC

Initially, the reach of the programme was aimed at establishing 50,000 eco-clubs throughout the country covering all States and Union Territories (UTs). 100 schools from each district were selected to form an eco-club in their school. An annual grant of Rs. 1000 was provided to each eco-club by the MoEF.

Looking at the positive reception of the programme, the number of schools was increased from 100 schools to 150 schools per district in 2004-05, and to 250 schools per district in the year 2006-07. The annual grant was also increased to Rs. 2,500 per eco-club.

The programme completed a decade in year 2011 and with this a country wide network of 1,20,000 eco-clubs were established for taking up environmental awareness campaigns and school based environment education activities.

Through this decade, eco-club schools have demonstrated a number of innovative action projects and have shown potential of enormous cross-learning among schools which were captured in a compilation of 100 selected case studies ‘Young in Green Action’. There are examples where Environment Education (EE) activities were taken beyond the school and have reached out to the communities e.g. plantation on a large scale, participating and strengthening the Total Sanitation Campaign, eco-friendly festival campaigns, and such activities.

Eco club Structure and Function

An eco-club is a school level group of students who organize themselves to learn more about environmental issues and also to take action to improve their immediate environment. Each such club has around 30-35 children having interest in environment related issues and its conservation. Each Eco-Club is supervised by a teacher in-charge whose role is to motivate students to become eco-club members and facilitate the activities being carried out by the club.

The activities taken up by these eco-clubs range from organizing seminars, field visits, campaigns and rallies, implementing action based activities like tree plantation, waste management, growing kitchen gardens, constructing water-harvesting structures in the school campus, preparing inventories of biodiversity and also mobilizing the community to take action against environmentally unsound practices such as improper garbage disposal.

Synergies and Achievements
The NGC programme has helped to synergize the eco-club approach and school-based EE efforts of various agencies, such as the following:
  • It has helped synergize the school-based EE efforts of various State departments and institutes such as Pollution Control Boards, Forest Department, Education Department, Council of Science and Technology, local NGOs and Resource Agencies.
  • A wide network of Master Trainers, Teachers-in-charge of eco-clubs, members of the District Implementation and Monitoring Committee (DIMC) is in place
  • Nationwide trainings of master trainers and teachers have helped in creation of standardized training modules and associated resource material with locale-specific adaptations.
  • A variety of locale-specific educational amterials has been produced by the nodal and resource agencies including environment days calendars, manuals covering various environmental issues, posters and charts, audiovisuals, games and other locale specific resource materials.
  • Over the years, NGC has emerged as a key programme which contributes significantly to fulfilling the National and International mandates of the Government of India in areas of conservation education and local actions towards conserving Biodiversity as under Convention of Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change Education and Actions under UNFCCC. The NGC network is also being seen as a potential change agent for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially in the areas of environment, water and sanitation and nutrition.
  • Initiatives have been taken to add value to the NGC programme by bringing additional resources at local level through accessing resource available with other government departments and schemes e.g. School Herbal Gardens under National Medicinal Plants Board in Maharashtra; successful participation in the National Environmental Awareness Campaign (NEAC); mobilizing development fund, and contribution from voluntary organizations. Strong and active participation by NGC eco-club schools in regional and national level science and environment related programmes such as the National Children’s Science Congress, state level science fairs and competitions adds vigor to the programme.
  • NGC activities have been adapted by various State governments as annual state- and regional-level events and camping programmes such as Mowgli Utsav in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Activities under the NGC programme provide opportunities for applying the theoretical leaning in various school subjects. They are helping in applying the constructivist approach emphasized in the National Curriculum Framework, 2005.
More careful documentation and research on the NGC experiences would surely provide learnings for ESD, and would be of interest to education planners, curriculum developers, and educators.

For more information contact:

Environment Education Division Ministry of Environment and Forests,
Govt of India, Paryavaran Bhawan, CGO Complex,
Lodhi Road New Delhi – 110 003
Ph: 011-24367664; 24364593

In Focus
BVIEER – NGC Resource Agency for Maharashtra

Dr Shamita Kumar, Vice-Principal, BVIEER provides an insight into the NGC programme in Maharashtra.BVIEER is the NGC Resource Agency in Maharashtra and the Nodal Agency is the Social Forestry Dept.

While passing through a remote area in Chikli, Ahmednagar district, I came across a school with the NGC logo painted on the school wall. I stopped and walked into the school. The teachers welcomed me warmly. Although they didn’t know me but definitely knew the Resource Agency. It was about five minutes before the school closed for the day. They delayed the closing of the school and took me around. What I saw reaffi rmed my faith in the NGC programme as an instrument of awareness. The school was spotlessly clean. Each class had a provision for drinking water in the front and the water from the tap was channeled to the plants thus ensuring reuse of water. The classrooms had the NGC posters designed by the Resource and Nodal Agency of the state, and articles, drawings by the students. A vermi-compost pit has been set up at the back of the school and, in this highly drought prone area, the teachers were maintaining a plantation.They showed me the students project books which were better than the ones I have seen developed by urban children, with meticulous records of their activities.

This is not an isolated incident. School after school in villages I have visited is running the NGC program in different ways. Some focus on festivals in Maharashtra, some on birds using innovative methods to teach, while others focus on bunding, making paper bags and recycled notebooks on a large commercial scale.

The Maharashtra NGC programme has several innovative components including:
               Celebrating festivals in an environment friendly manner through a sustained educational
               Establishment of NGC Parks across the state
               Establishment of Shraddha Van
               Promoting education for sustainable development

The theme of celebrating festivals in an eco-friendly manner was selected as these festivals link to plantation, biodiversity conservation, importance of wildlife, prevention of pollution, waste segregation and recycling, composting through a variety of action based programs.

A calendar of activities to be conducted during the year is prepared jointly and designed by the Resource Agency. It highlights specific days and the weeks which provide opportunities for conducting environmental activities. Every month is devoted to a specific festival and thus focuses on a relevant environmental activity. Various environment days throughout the year also provide opportunities for promoting concepts of conservation and sustainability. Suggestions for specific activities that could be carried out are developed and presented through posters developed quarterly.

Another unique aspect of the NGC program in Maharashtra is the NGC Park concept proposed by the Resource Agency. Every District Nodal Officer has been asked to study the feasibility and to identify an appropriate place for setting it up. This concept was born out of the fact that the Social Forestry Department has land in its jurisdiction ranging from 1 to 10 hectares which is presently used to develop their nurseries. Most of them are in a natural setting and adjoining areas that are naturally forested or are grasslands, wetlands, etc. BVIEER mooted the idea of establishing NGC Resource Centres which could house a nature trail, exhibits, in the form of posters, games, etc. The groundwork was initiated in the year 2007 and is being consolidated every year. The first NGC Park was set up in the environs of the Poona Club and was inaugurated in May 2008.

In order to harness religious sentiments for conservation, the concept of a Shraddha Van was mooted. Large scale plantations will be initiated and monitored by NGC students in locations adjoining places of religious importance of all religions.

NGC in Maharashtra has had a multi pronged approach of designing EE modules that are locale specific with regard to the cultural and environmental situation. The teachers have found this useful and adequate media coverage has boosted their morale and that of students. This has helped create an active and vibrant NGC programme in the state.

For more information contact:

Dr Shamita Kumar, Vice-Principal Institute of Environment Education
and Research, Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University
Katraj, Pune 411043
Phone: 20-24375684; 24362155

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