Shortwood Teachers’ College (STC) has always co-habitated in harmony with nature. The desire to have its student population share in this nurturing has resulted in the establishment of the Early Childhood Environmental Resource Centre of Shortwood (ECERCS). A joint project spearheaded by a number of stakeholders, the centre promotes the practice of Environmental Education and Sustainable Development (EESD) through recycling, composting, community education campaigns, energy, paper and water conservation. It serves to provide information on Environmental Education as well as to train pre-service and in-service teachers in the use of the environment as a teaching tool.
In 1998, a multi-stakeholder group under the Government of Jamaica/Canadian International Development Agency Environmental Action Programme (ENACT) completed a two year process of formulating a National Environmental Education Action Plan for Sustainable Development. An essential component and priority of this plan was the professional development of teachers in EESD, beginning with those in Early Childhood Education. Naturally the plan envisioned the involvement of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and several partners with which it works for curriculum development and teacher education, in particular the Joint Board of Teacher Education (JBTE). Shortwood Teachers’ College is one of the eight teacher training institutions also envisioned in the plan.
Since October 2000, STC has been conducting under ENACT sponsorship a “whole college” approach to Environmental Education for Sustainable Development. Out of this programme has come an Environmental Committee with a number of activities and programmes geared at promoting the College as a green learning community. These include:
- collection and use of recyclable materials
- establishing a composting area, a nature trail, fish pond and butterfly garden
- student participation in EESD
- collaborating with institutions promoting environmental education
- sharing EESD with the wider community and
- implementing strategies for conserving energy, water and paper
Environmental education at the College serves all staff, which entails considerable community involvement. Teaching practice which is an integral part of the BEd programme in Early Childhood Education (ECE), currently places student teachers into seven communities and their basic schools across the city, from Portmore to Rockfort, and the inner city to Stony Hill. Shortwood Practising Primary & Junior High School and our newly formed relationship with two (2) demonstration schools namely, Constant Spring Primary & Junior High and Drews Avenue Primary Schools, provide opportunities for teacher trainees to observe appropriate teaching methods in EESD.
Continuing this drive to build environmental awareness Shortwood Teachers’ College is now implementing a project to ‘Establish Shortwood Teachers’ College as a Green Learning Community’. This project is being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme and Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ). The main purpose of the project is to implement components of the strategic direction to improve and advance the College as a green space in an urban setting that will function as a learning community. The components include:
- Modeling the meaning of biodiversity in everyday living
- Public education aimed at informing schools and surrounding community about the conservation management and protection of indigenous flora in Kingston and St. Andrew and Jamaica as a whole
- Modeling the connection between sustainable livelihood and sustainable development
This project seeks to ensure that both children and adults become more aware and knowledgeable about the plant diversity and its relevance to everyday life. The physical plant of STC is being developed as an Urban Green Centre as the college models the conservation management and protection best practices. One of the key activities is the growing of flora with medicinal, aesthetic, ecological, nutritional, and mitigating of soil erosion properties for example; sorrel, cerassee, sugar cane, neem and lignum vitae. Another important component involves working with schools in the community to develop green spaces.
The goal of STC is to become a sustainable institution and to make sustainability a part of the whole ethos and culture of the college and surrounding communities. STC is strategically positioned in close proximity to more than twenty learning centers ranging from early childhood to the secondary level. These institutions are encouraged to become active participants in maintaining and sustaining a green community.