Being socially responsible is something we take very seriously at BSY. Over the past five years our school has been involved in many fantastic events and fund raising activities from The Great Shoe Box Appeal to our Christmas Spread a Smile gift campaign for sick children in Yankin Hospital.
Our student eco-committee also does superb work in school. Already this year they have joined the eco-schools program, created an eco-action plan and started to make small but noticeable changes to the way the school runs. These have included a drive towards decreasing our energy consumption, a reduction in meat intake through meat-free Mondays in the canteen, the creation of a biodiversity garden and an objective to reduce, reuse and recycle as much of our waste as possible.
It is often our teachers and students who drive forward social issues. Nord Anglia also offers excellent guidance through our Global Campus and partnerships with organisations like UNICEF.
However, today I wanted to take a closer look at another way that a school-based issue became the beginning of what we hope will be a wide scale community project.
In January 2020 we focused our attention on Air Quality at the BSY campus. We reviewed data from our air quality monitors and tried to make sure our policy struck a balance between opportunities for being outdoors and ensuring everyone was kept safe during periods of poor air quality.
Due to particularly high levels in the mornings we were often forced to move swimming and PE indoors. As a school we initially reacted by giving all of the teachers access to live data from around the school and asking them to act in real time based on the readings.
While this was keeping the children safe, it did not address the root cause of the issue in our community. When several parents contacted me regarding what they could do to help we quickly set up Clean Air BSY. Our committee would be dedicated to ensuring clean air for the students and for our surrounding community.
In our first meeting we discussed the causes of the issue. The main factor behind the high readings was the burning of leaves and household waste in the fields surrounding the school. We understood that car emissions as well as construction were contributing but that the focus issue was the burning. With the fantastic support of our parents we were also able to secure the advice from experts in this area and we started a meaningful dialogue.
Within just a few days some of our proactive parents took to the streets to start up discussions with local residents. We wanted to understand more about the issue so that we could look at solutions that would work for our community. We met regularly to discuss how to get teachers, students and the eco council on board.
We also looked at waste management and ways the school can support our neighbours. We talked about getting the school body involved in litter picking and the possibilities of using the leaves for composting.
Unfortunately the school was closed a short while later, which has put this temporarily on hold. However, our plans and motivation for clean air have not diminished.
With rainy season upon us we usually find that the air quality in Yangon improves, however we wish to use this time to make a plan ready for the issues we will face during the next dry season.
If you would like to know more, or get involved with this or other community projects, please write to me, email@example.com