■Regarding Efforts in the “Eco Capital: Adopt an Eco-school” Program
Koji Tsuchitani, Eco Capital Division, Environmental Crisis Management Department, Tokushima
“Eco Capital: Adopt an Eco-school” is a system established by Tokushima Prefecture in 2007, that applies the “adopt-a” model used for roads and rivers to environmental learning activities in schools, based on the concept of “local business supporting local human resource development.” Businesses and NGOs become “foster parents,” and support the environmental learning activities of their “adopted” schools. Under this system, the Otsuka Group (Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Otsuka Chemical Co., Ltd., Taiho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.) and Eco-Capital Tokushima Creation Center, an NPO that supports the implementation of environmental activities in schools and in the prefecture, sign adoption agreements every year in order to nurture the development of talented people with a high sense of environmental responsibility who will proactively work to transform Tokushima into an eco-capital at the forefront of the 21st century – the century of the environment. For the first three years of Reiwa, the adopted school is Kamonaminami Elementary School in Tokushima-shi.
The primary efforts of Kamonaminami Elementary School in the first year of Reiwa were as follows:
1) Basing part of the curriculum of the fifth grade integrated studies period on the activity plan.
2) Having classes about the environment taught by outside instructors from organizations such as the Fukuroi Yosui Beautification Group and the Tokushima Environmental Conservation Section, in order for students to learn from people with real-world experience in the field.
3) Visiting Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.’s Itano, Tokushima plant to learn about the company’s environmental initiatives and biotope/ecosystem preservation efforts, and applying those lessons to the preservation of the biotope in their own school.
4) Publicizing the results of the year’s learning and efforts to a wide range of people at the school’s human rights assembly and environmental learning forum.
Regarding the curriculum and lesson plan, the school submits a preliminary draft, which is developed into a finalized plan by the three Otsuka companies and the NPO at a joint meeting. Regarding funding, the three companies and the NPO jointly contribute money, and actively work to reduce the burden on the school and support the students’ learning.
This system creates a synergistic effect when the groups that have signed the agreement actively work to protect the environment. The schools can advance a more in-depth environmental education by going beyond the boundaries of the school and learning directly from the activities of the companies. The companies can promote their own activities, and also learn about the actual situation in schools to plan future business activities while considering what kind of support is most effective. The NPO and Tokushima Prefecture can raise awareness about environmental issues among a wide range of organizations and age groups, and promote Tokushima as an eco-capital by building a variety of connections.
I believe that undertaking environmental education with the cooperation of companies is a project that can be expected to raise children’s motivation to learn, and elevate their awareness of environmental issues. I hope that it will be developed further, and become the next-generation environmental education support model.