Everyone who knows a little bit about the Earth Charter International Secretariat in Costa Rica has certainly noticed that we often report about our Earth Charter-inspired projects and success stories that usually take place far away from our Central American headquarters. This time, we want to report on a project that is literally taking place at our doorstep: the El Rodeo school project. Together with the UN Mandated University for Peace (UPEACE), we have established a partnership between El Rodeo School and a group of students who committed to teach English to students from grade 1 to 6 on a weekly basis. This primary school, located in the same small and rural village as the campus and our offices, only has a total of 40 students and two or three teachers. Therefore, the vision and the aim of this project are to support the academic work of the school, in particular the English as a second language (ESL) program by offering after-class activities in English.
The leaders of the project (ten UPEACE students and ECI intern Marie Rossetti) are elaborating a curriculum that includes the arts (singing, painting, playing) and interactive (outdoor) activities adapted to the level and the age of the students. Based on what those children learn in their regular English classes, the University students provide an original pedagogy as well as innovative teaching methods that are suited for learning a foreign language at a very early age.
This is also where the Earth Charter comes in: the goal of the project is also to infuse Earth Charter principles and its values-based framework into the teaching and talk in an adapted language about the importance of protecting the environment and caring for one another. In Costa Rica the physical environment plays a vital role in terms of ecosystem services, natural and cultural heritage, and tourism. Although the country is a role model in the region for its excellent resource conservation, issues such as water treatment, recycling, and waste are still areas on the agenda that need to be addressed. This is why raising awareness at a young age about the necessity of adopting environmentally friendly habits, as well as demonstrating how local initiatives can have great impacts and lead to a better quality of life, is essential for the transition towards a sustainable future. Ideally, the teachers of the project will work with the Earth Charter, as well as with the ‘Little Earth Charter’ (a simplified version of the text for children; for more information, click here), only talking and interacting in English, as the level of the student(s) allow.
Furthermore, the Secretariat also collaborated with the University’s Sustainability club, more precisely with its Outreach campaign committee, which aims to enhance the relationship between the community and the campus. Events such as a Sunday soccer game bringing together staff members of the University, University students, teenagers and young adults from the community of El Rodeo, were organized and very successful. Future projects include artistic workshops (dancing, cooking of typical dishes, music performances, etc.) and regular sporting events that will reinforce and maintain the ties between the community and the University.