A group of leaders in the School Climate Strike movement has written a letter to the world’s most polluting countries – the G 7 – and, in case you are wondering what the schools think of all this, the Eco-Bites editor[pdf link] reports on one school in Brussels.

We are talking of a movement of teenagers still at school and coming from no less than 92 countries around the world. The story of one school in Brussels is worth telling as a taste of what is happening on the ground. This school, like so many others around the world, had a good level of awareness of the issues. A student based movement had campaigned successfully for the separation of waste, including a compost plot in the school yard. There was much talk about ecology in the classroom. They had an earth friendly and fair trade shop run by the students. They also had eco-delegates whose task was to forward the green agenda in the school.

Then came the School Climate Strikes, which took place during school hours. The eco-delegates decided to go on the march. They did not tell anyone. They just did what school goers have been doing since schools began. They were missing from class without permission. Some teachers were furious as teachers tend to be on these occasions, but others were delighted.

The absentees had an honourable motive which was not available to their predecessors, but their action was clearly subversive; it could not simply be laughed off by someone with the responsibility for running a school. In this particular school clear parameters have been set out. If you want to absent yourself each Thursday for the School Strike march, you must write a letter to the school principal explaining your interest in this matter and, in addition, you must undertake to all the required homework for the classes you miss.

In an earlier edition of Eco-Bites, I compared the School Strike movement to 1968. In one matter it differs markedly from fifty years ago. Then, the marchers were third level students, who could go where they liked. Today, they are school-goers. It is also happening on a much bigger scale in an interconnected world.

by, Edmond Grace SJ

Secretary for Justice & Ecology

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