Humans have endeavored to make their life better by constantly creating and inventing. Unfortunately however, and especially over the last few decades, it has happened at the cost of the well-being of other species, flora and fauna. Statistics that point to the extent of environmental degradation occurring on a daily, even hourly basis, are alarming. The world seems to be edging towards a dangerous precipice, and sadly, the more 'educated' of us seem to have brought it there!

Evidence is all around, making it hard to ignore, that formal education is not teaching us to live in harmony with nature or care for its resources. Majority educational experiences have failed to provide us with enough engagement with the natural world and the immediate environment. We don’t know the world around us enough, thus, kindling in us only a weak desire if at all to fight for it or protect it.

If the goal of education is to help build a just, humane, equitable and sustainable society, then sustainability and environmental education ought to be a central part of a child’s educational experience. The sphere of education must expand to include sustainability thinking and environmental education. As has been said, “In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

The present educational experience of children teaches them that learning happens by sitting quietly inside a
classroom, listening to the teacher, who is the dispenser of ‘knowledge’. The way learning has been shaped in most of
our educational institutions, it provides very little scope for body-mind interaction, for the mind to understand and
learn through bodily experiences (Martin. J, 2010) or for learning to take place by doing. Learning is mostly memorizing
facts, a cerebral exercise!

An education that builds scientific, humanistic as well as aesthetic understanding of the world, through encouragement of physical practice, experience and exploration is the need of the hour. Students learn about themselves and their relationship with the world, more so through physical practice and an intense engagement that beckons all their senses. Sustainability and environmental education encourage this kind of learning, where students not just have ample scope to but are required to engage with the world outside their classrooms.

Wipro earthian is one of India’s largest sustainability education programs for schools and colleges. For school students and teachers, the programme offers three themes:

  • Sustainability and Water
  • Sustainability and Biodiversity
  • Sustainability and Waste

Through the theme/s of their choice, the programme engages teams of students and teachers, in a set of activities to help them understand these themes in their local context and explore sustainability linkages. It also offers exposure to multiple perspectives and helps develop an interconnected understanding of different disciplines in education and life. This helps teachers and students to make more informed choices about their lives and society. 

The 2020 edition of the Wipro earthian program received over 900 project entries from all over India, out of which winning entries from 20 schools and 8 colleges were selected by an independent jury.

The Wipro earthian awards have seen a threefold increase in the number of participants since its inception in 2011. The program has engaged with over 55,000 schools and colleges, 130,000 students and 13,000 teachers from across India. The support from Wipro’s education partners across the country has helped expand the reach of the program.

The winning institutes were felicitated by Wipro Chairman Rishad Premji at an event. They received a certificate along with a cash prize. They will also get an opportunity to engage with Wipro and its sustainability partners through continuous collaborative programs that will enable a deeper understanding of issues critical to sustainability.

The event featured a keynote talk by David Quammen, world renowned author and science journalist who talked about his research and insights into the delicate balance of biodiversity and how pandemics like COVID-19 originate when we disturb that balance. The event also had Jadav "Molai" Payeng, Forest Man of India sharing his journey through a recorded interview and 9 year old Licypriya Kangujam who shared her message with the students on her journey of becoming a climate activist at a young age.

Aripana Foundation is partnering with Wipro Foundation to take this program to schools in North Bihar. Interested schools, teachers and/or students can contact us to participate in the program.

Aripana Foundation facilitated the participation of teams from 6 schools of North Bihar, in Wipro earthian 2020 - India's largest environment and sustainability education program for schools and colleges. This was the first time that schools of Mithila had participated in Wipro's prestigious program, since its inception 10 years ago.

The program provided a very enriching experience to all participating students and teachers, as well as to the Aripana team.   And we are delighted that teams from two government-aided schools - Heycock Institution and M.L. Academy - secured a rank among the shortlisted TOP 35 entries in their very first attempt! On the day the Earthian 2020 winners were to be felicitated at the national level, in a virtual awards ceremony organized by Wipro, team Aripana organized a ceremony for the felicitation of all participating and shortlisted teams of Mithila, in Darbhanga.

On 13th February, 2020, Aripana Foundation, in collaboration with teachers, principals and students of the participating schools, organized the"Sankul Sammelan and Wipro-earthian Felicitation cum Information session" in Bansidas Kanya Madhya Vidyalay, Darbhanga. Some highlights of the event:

a) The event was held at the cluster resource center (CRC), the Bansidas Kanya Madhya Vidyalay. A CRC plays a pivotal role in bringing together schools and teachers of an administrative unit, the cluster, for all kinds of capacity building, knowledge exchange and administrative purposes. To be able to host the function in this community space, with cooperation from the education functionaries, was extremely positive for all of us.
b) The District project officer (DPO), Shri Sanjay Deo Kanhaiyya graced the occasion with his presence and distributed certificates to the deserving students!
c) The event was well attended by school teachers from neighboring schools, parents and children which helped amplify the message around sustainability education and the achievement of the shortlisted students teams.

To know more about our experience of participating in Wipro earthian 2020 please see the video below or this report. Interested schools, teachers and/or students are requested to contact us for participating in the Wipro-earthian program.

You can also watch some sample videos for children, explaining some of the activities they do as part of the program:

At Aripana Foundation we are attempting to draw meaningful connections between school learning and the natural world - by designing and making available appropriate experiences as well as teaching-learning materials for students and teachers of North Bihar.

We have started by exploring the potential of guided Nature-walks and Citizen-science with students, and plan to build on this further in the coming months.