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No matter how old you are, September always summons memories of school year beginnings. Bamboo and other eco-friendly habits can play a role in the academic season. Read on to discover how this sturdy, versatile plant enabled a small community in Bangladesh to create a world-renown school. Want to bring an environmentalist attitude to your own community’s classrooms? We also offer several ways you and your family can stay green throughout the ’08-’09 school year.

Start the School Year Green!
You’re never too young to live green! Today’s children are inheriting tomorrow’s planet, making our kids the environmental movement’s most vital audience and participants. Eco-awareness can begin as early as kindergarten, and — without much effort or extra money – a few simple practices throughout the school year can ensure our youngest generation grows up with Earth’s well-being in mind.
– Opt for eco-friendly school supplies such as recycled paper notebooks.
– Help start a school recycling program.
– Use reusable lunchboxes instead of paper bags and Tupperware instead of plastic baggies.
– Prepare organic lunches that aren’t over packaged.
– Support green school fundraisers and field trips such as planting trees, beach clean-ups, or a visit to a local organic farm.

The School of Bamboo

Many teaching institutions today are beginning to envision new methods for unlocking a child’s unique potential. In Rudrapur, a village in northern Bangladesh, one such school exists. Dubbed the METI (Modern Education and Training Institute), it approaches a traditional curriculum with principles of positivity, environmental awareness, and meditation. Students are directly involved in the creation of their lessons in order to promote self-motivation and leadership – qualities which branched out to the entire village during the unique bamboo construction of the school itself.

Innovation Meets Tradition
Beginning with the modern designs of architects, Anna Heringer of Austria, and Eike Roswag of Germany, the construction of the METI became a project involving the entire community. In order to cut down on the pollution and expense of shipping materials into town, builders used a reliable, sustainable, and readily available resource – bamboo!

Because bamboo was a material the Rudrapur locals were familiar with, they were all able to lend a hand in the building process. Additional training was given to craftsmen in order to engrain specialist construction knowledge in the region – promoting employment and entrepreneurship.  As a result, regional identity was strengthened, and most of the town, including the schoolchildren, could find pride in the fact they had contributed to something great.

Sky-High Acclaim
With its beautiful bamboo design and inspiring construction story, the METI has attracted the attention of architecture communities around the globe, and was a recipient of the esteemed $500,000 Aga Khan award. In the words of the award’s jury, “This joyous and elegant two-story primary school in rural Bangladesh has emerged from a deep understanding of local materials and a heart-felt connection to the local community.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the building is how the school’s basic goal — to develop a child’s potential through creativity and responsibility — is reflected in its design, usage of sustainable bamboo, and collaborative building techniques.

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