Town builds Colombia’s first sustainable school

San Jerónimo, Colombia, May 12 (EFE).- San Jerónimo, just outside Medellin, has become the first town in Colombia to build a sustainable school that offers an education close to nature.

The school is made of recycled glass bottles, aluminum cans, tires and cardboard and took only 24 days to build.

It uses solar energy, an independent water system, has its own vegetable gardens, an experimental classroom and a geodesic dome for food production and biodiversity.

Nature and conservation is at the forefront of the school’s education, with practical skills such as building bird houses, planting seeds and making compost bins at the heart of its curriculum.

“They have taught me that if we don’t take care of nature, we can’t live,” Emanuel Agudelo, one of the 52 students at the El Rincón branch of the Institución Educativa Rural Agrícola (IERA), tells Efe.

The school is part of a project led by Uruguayan organization Tagma which develops innovative projects in Latin America with education and sustainability at the core.

“We should not cut down trees and leave the birds without a nest,” says Emanuel, 10, a student at the school.

Nearly 2,000 aluminum cans and 2,000 glass bottles, 500 tires and 50 square meters of cardboard were reused for the construction of the ecological school.

“We think it is important to work with public education. To be able to accompany rural teachers so that they can have more pedagogical tools to strengthen their environmental education activities,” Carolina Goijman, coordinator of Tagma’s network of schools, tells Efe.

The experimental classroom, together with its curved dome, are the most striking part of the new school, which is decorated with edible, medicinal and aromatic plants.

Using materials such as palm, which acts as a thermal insulator, the building is designed to naturally acclimatize.

The school also honors its location, with local techniques and materials such as the traditional guadua (a variety of bamboo) used to make furniture, doors, windows and flower pots.

“I never thought I would be able to have this sort of education in an area like this,” María Paula García, 16, says.

As well as providing an opportunity for pupils to learn about sustainability, the institution also allows for the local community to live a more sustainable life thanks to its policies of reducing, recycling and reusing waste that it is promoting in the town. EFE


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