In a panel on water education for sustainable development, representatives from 'Khan-Uul Complex Laboratory School', a member of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network in Mongolia presented their water education project 'Children of Kherlen River'.
In the presence of the Minister of Tourism and the Environment of the Republic of Congo, the Minister of Agriculture from Tunisia, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education and other eminent participants, Ms Budtuya Genden, Principal of the Khan Uul Complex School, and 11th grade student Mr Azbayar Azjargal, spoke about how their project engages students in a whole range of activities to prevent potential risks, rehabilitate, conserve, protect and efficiently use the water of the Kherlen River.
"Water education helps shift mind-sets to drive sustainable lifestyles, and economic and societal transformation"
Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education
Since its inception in 2017, the project has improved knowledge, skills, attitudes and values related to sustainable development as well as transmitted cultural traditions and wisdom to protect "Mother Earth".
Under the theme "We are children of one river",
35 science teachers and 956 thirteen- to sixteen-year old students are participating in outdoor classes, mostly held on the riverbank, with the purpose of improving education for sustainable development and transmitting traditions and wisdom to protect mountains and rivers for future generations.
Thanks to these classes, students and their teachers develop different ideas and actions to preserve and protect the river. Students lead scientific experiments, such as analysing the river's water quality, and advocate in their school and community to refrain from disposing waste and chemical solutions to keep the water from polluting. The school also increased the number of trashcans in and around the campus as well as in areas close to the river and students put up signs to sensitize the larger community living around the river.
Students and teachers also collected plastic trash from the river and its surroundings. Through workshops, they recycled these plastics into numerous objects and furniture items, now installed at the Kherlen riverside recreation areas. They made umbrellas, benches and trashcans with empty plastic bottles and a small games park out of old tires.
The school also contributed to organizing eco-tours under the theme "Water in Nature" together with enterprises using groundwater from Kherlen River and local authorities.
After the panel and away from the podium, Ms Budtuya Genden and Azbayar Azjargal confide their feelings and their pride to be part of the Network and to have been selected to participate in this milestone conference.
"It was like a dream come true to attend a UNESCO conference and share our experiences with participants from other countries"Ms Budtuya Genden, Principal of the ASPnet Khan Uul Complex School-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"This very first trip to participate in such a conference in Paris, will remain engraved forever in my mind and it will strengthen my commitment to do more for my school, my community and my river"Mr Azbayar Azjargal, Student of the ASPnet Khan Uul Complex School
During the conference, the representatives of the ASPnet School had the privilege of meeting Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO. This was a unique opportunity to present their educational project for protecting and preserving Kherlen river, a treasure and source of life for their whole community, and the values it carries.
UNESCO ASPnet, once more, contributed to connecting and bringing together policy, research and practice in dialogue.
Comprehensive water education is a vital step to raise awareness among students to ensure they play an active part in their communities in improving water management and governance. Many ASPnet schools around the world address water issues as part of their ESD work and promote water sustainability, among others, by celebrating the
World Day for Water, on 22 March.
Learn about the project