The teachers and students of Bonuan Buquig National High School from Pangasinan are awarded the “World’s Best School” prize for its mangrove-planting initiative.
Let’s face facts: The world is currently facing a climate crisis. From the catastrophic flooding that has ravaged South Asia and the destruction of the Amazon forest, to the continuously growing hole in the ozone layer, we are witnessing the detrimental effects of climate change and global warming. The Philippines is no stranger to these environmental struggles. Being situated at the Pacific Ring of Fire, Filipinos encounter volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and more than twenty strong typhoons every year, which usually leads to destruction of properties and natural resources.
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This is why it is inspiring to know that there are people and institutions who steadfastly fight for the protection of Mother Nature even amid difficult circumstances. Some of them so happen to be the students and teachers of Bonuan Buquig National High School in Pangasinan. And their impressive mangrove-planting project just recently won the first-ever World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action.
PREPARING THE YOUTH FOR THE FUTURE
“We are integrating in the child the value of trying to understand the climate change that is happening right now and for them to be part of the solution,” says Lin Ventenilla, a teacher from the Bonuan Buquig National High School, a public secondary school in Dagupan, Pangasinan. In the school’s video entry, Ventenilla explains how Typhoon Pepeng’s destruction of their barangay’s mangroves, rivers, and fishponds back in 2009 led them to starting their initiative called “Ilog ko, Aroen ko,” a mangrove-planting project to help rehabilitate the community’s waterways.
“Most of their parents are relying on fishing and trying to manage some of the fish ponds,” explains Ventenilla. “Of course, we felt we really have to do something.” For more than a decade, BBNHS teachers and students have already planted more than 50,000 mangrove seedlings around the Longos River and are now reaping its benefits. Fish stocks have now returned to the river and the waterways are now clean. Mangrove trees have also been the community’s shield to the washouts when a storm hits.
What started as a small initiative is now a province-wide advocacy with mangrove-planting now integrated in several high schools. Furthering its cause, the BBNHS has also partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to learn more about planting mangroves “We cannot prepare the future for our leaders. But we can prepare them for the future,” says Ventenilla. “We want them to realize that what they’re doing right now will also be benefiting the next generation after them.”
WORLD’S BEST SCHOOL
“Sa loob nang labing-dalawang taon, kaya ginagawa ng paaralan namin ang mangrove-planting ay dahil sa pagmamahal namin sa kalikasan,” shares Renato Santillan, the school’s principal. And their love for Mother Nature has proved to be awe-inspiringly fruitful as they earned the first-ever World’s Best School prize by T4 Education, a global education institution, under the Environmental Action category.
It was first announced last June that BBNHS was among the Top 10 shortlisted entries in the competition. The selection included two other Filipino high schools namely, G.L. David Memorial Integrated High School in Bataan and Iloilo’s Malitbog National High School, which were shortlisted under the Community Collaboration and Supporting Healthy Lives categories, respectively.
Last September, from a thousand entries, the list was whittled down to top three schools where BBNHS stood strong beside Switzerland’s International School of Zug and Luzern and Indonesia’s Green School Bali. The victorious moment came on October 20, when BBNHS was announced as the winner of the accolade including the $50,000 cash prize. Watch the school’s special moment below. (Skip to 1:12:40)
A PLATFORM FOR EDUCATORS
The World’s Best School Prizes are a part of T4 Education’s mission of “ensuring every learner achieves their potential.” It aims to celebrate schools that are making a big difference and impacting a significant change in their community under the categories of Environmental Action, Community Collaboration, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity, and Supporting Healthy Lives. The prizes also come with a $50,000 cash incentive.
Formed in May 2020 amid the pandemic, T4 Education is now a 200,000-strong engaged global community of passionate educators, school leaders, and education advocates. T4’s mission is to be a platform for schools and educators by providing them with opportunities to learn, share and network with each other.” Moreover, the global network also aims to amplify the voices of educators through a variety of professional engagement and activities through events like the Teacher Tech Summit and the World Education Week, and through their insightful research program.
“It is teachers and schools who will not only equip the next generation to fulfill their full potential, but empower them to tackle the greatest challenges our societies face, from inequality to environmental destruction and rapid technological change,” declares Vikas Pota, T4 Education’s founder and CEO. “Their voices must be heard.”
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