Author: Priyanka Khanna, Raj Verma | Editor: Anurag Bajpai | Graphics: Arushi Patnaik

The bell has been sounded for lunch at a primary school in a remote part of Jalaun District and within seconds there is pandemonium all around. Children by the dozens are pouring out of their classrooms, laughing and shouting, clearly enjoying the break from lessons. But amidst all the rush they seem to be heading somewhere with an apparently focused zeal. When asked, a group of them shout in chorus that they are going to attend a quiz program on Energy Saving (“Bijli Bachao”) approaches.

Under ordinary circumstances, this would not attract much attention.  But here in this district, 79 schools participated students’ capacity building program and the children’s enthusiasm is a virtual sign of recent progress energy improvements in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Energy Requirement in India is growing at a rapid pace along with the growth of our economy. This will grow aggressively in the coming years with a rising population and demand. The governments at all levels are taking various measures to optimize energy use. There have been various awareness programs for the matured stakeholders, but it took us a surprise when we witnessed the initiative of the Uttar Pradesh government about energy awareness in schools at various urban and rural locations. GreenTree Global has dynamically executed this impactful program.

The aim behind this program is to reduce the demand for energy in the state of Uttar Pradesh by motivating young minds as well as their parents/guardians with the active participation of school management through the analysis of monthly energy scorecards. The campaign organized in 37 districts with approximately 244 schools. It is estimated that the program has impacted more than 1 lakh children directly & indirectly and it is expected to get continued support from government/s so that it can reach another 10 lakhs school kids in the next 5 years. This campaign has been conceptualized by UPNEDA, Government of UP to create household level awareness to adopt energy-efficient equipment & practices along with healthy energy usage behavior. The biggest advantage of this program is that it does not get over after an awareness program; in fact, it starts from there. After joining the campaign on website educational Institutions have to perform the following activities: Activities of Students Energy Club, Updates on Energy Survey of the school, Implementation of Energy Saving measures, Celebration of Important Days/Events, Social Media Posting, etc. The schools get rated based on their activities documentation on the website throughout the year and they get awarded on Energy Conservation Day accordingly.

Activities performed in the School Awareness Campaign Program include addressing students and teachers on energy conservation through an interactive presentation. The dissemination starts with basic energy savings approaches including lighting, electrical appliances, cooking, and transport, etc. After the lecture, a quiz competition is held in which whosoever achieved maximum marks have been awarded by mementos and Certificates. Next activity is a walk-through energy survey along with members (10 numbers) of the student energy club to assess total energy consuming appliances in the school.

GreenTree had to complete the awareness campaign in 244 schools within 6 monthsand had to face several difficulties at ground level implementation. To enter into the school premises we have to take permission from the District Magistrate (DM), Chief Development Officer (CDO), District inspector of the school (DIOS) and it’s very difficult to meet this level of higher authorities in second or third-tier districts. Most of the schools were Government schools and after getting permission from higher authorities it is very hard to get a schedule from their Principal for arranging a program in their schools. Many schools were on the outskirts and no conveyance available to reach the school. The diversity in the UP states surprises us a lot despite the composite climate across the state. During the rainy season, flood in some districts becomes a deterrent and the team has to manage the activities in time considering all possible difficulty’s permutations. Sometimes in the case of rural schools, the absence of electricity during the presentation became the motivation to talk about energy conservation itself. The most satisfying challenge is to cover the school of dumb and deaf since it is difficult to explain the abstract of the program without expertise.

Working on the ground away from urban sprawls for school education gives us tough times but simultaneously motivates us to keep walking with the same passion since such activity for young minds is the Need of Hour. A successful children education program, supported by UPNEDA has become a great model for other states. In 2018, the project has demonstrated that remarkable improvements can be made at household level awareness through children's education only. The outcome of such wonderful programs is always long term and long-lasting and young minds shall be more responsible for Climate Change.

To make our future sustainable, we must make our youngest generation more knowledgeable”