Earth Day or International Mother Earth Day? April 22nd 2012

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues…Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

–Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
As a primary school teacher, working with 6 /7  year olds, I remember working on The Lorax with the children in the hope of raising a variety of environmental concerns,some in their own back yard and some global.
A couple of decades on and I can only hope that some of those seeds have grown into saplings and small trees and that some of those young people may be taking action on Earth Day and everyday after…

Earth Day is a day early each year on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Earth Day draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way – which is also the most ancient way – by using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making the length of night and day equal in all parts of the Earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the March/April Equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible, and a flag which shows the Earth, as seen from space, appropriate.”

International Mother Earth Day was established in 2009 by the General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278. The Resolution was introduced by the  State of Bolivia and endorsed by over 50 member states.It recognizes that “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home” and that “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth.” The term Mother Earth is used because it “reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit”. It is decided to designate April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Education is the key component of any environmental initiative, as it provides for sustainability and prepares future generations of global citizens. The Earth Day Network  is helping teachers incorporate those elements into their classroom through online resources, curriculum and activities that engage the entire community.

For the teachers out there:

Reading For The Earth

Earth Day Network has provided you with an online toolkit that will provide the resources to help guide you with informing and organizing activities for young readers in your community. Earth Day Network has identified a number of steps that you can follow to effectively engage your students in the environmental  movement.

Encourage Reading

To encourage reading amongst young readers in grades K-8, Earth Day Network suggests you follow the steps identified below:

Step #1 – Advertise

Find locations in your library that are highly viable to young readers and their parents  and post fliers and announcements about the campaign.  Create your own original posters or use on of Earth Day Network’s Reading for the Earth™ posters located below:

Poster Design #1      Poster Design  #2      Poster Design #3      Poster Design #4

Step #2 – Create Display/Showcase

Build a display or showcase that has information about Reading for the Earth including posters and suggested reading lists. Gather a few books to highlight in your display and to help you find environmentally themed books, Earth Day Network has created suggested reading lists for young readers in both grades K-3 and grades 4-8. Some of the selections from the lists are highlighted below and to view a more complete reading list click the link after each section.

Grades K– 3 Reading list

Squish! A Wetland Walk; Nancy Luenn

A feast for the senses, Squish! provides young children with an introduction to the sights, sounds, and smells of a wetland as experienced by a young boy. Luenn uses simple language to explain some of the many ways wetlands are beneficial, and Himler’s quiet watercolors beautifully capture the unusual, wondrous atmosphere.

The Curious Garden; Peter Brown

The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown, is an excellent book about the benefits of greening up our own small corner of the urban world, as told through the story of a young boy who begins to “guerilla garden” in a desolate corner of the city.

The Great Kapok Tree; Lynne Cherry

Author and illustrator Lynne Cherry tells the tale of a man who is sent into the Amazon rain forest one day under instructions to chop down a great kapok tree. As he sleeps, animals emerge from the jungle canopy to plead with the sleeping ax-man to spare their home, and this unique  perspective from the wildlife provides an intriguing scientific argument for preserving nature’s gifts.

Complete Grades K-3 Suggested Reading List (PDF File)

Grades 4-8 Reading List

The Weirdos, Theodore Taylor

Chip Clewt, known simply as the weirdo, lives like a hermit in the Powhatan Swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge that is at the center of a heated controversy between local hunters and  environmentalists.

What  the Parrot told Alice, Dale Smith

What the Parrot Told Alice is a remarkable story, founded on fact. It is destined to awaken the conscience of young people to crucial issues of our time, such as habitat destruction and exploitation of wildlife.

My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George

Jean Craighead George tells the story of a boy who really wants to get away from it all. So, he leaves home to live in the mountains, where he learns to live off the land and gains a sense of independence and adventure before he finally reunites with his family.

Complete Grades 4-8 Suggested Reading List (PDF File)

Suggested Reading List- Grades 9-12                         Suggested Reading List- Australian Authors

Step #3 – Sign-Up Young Readers

Allow young readers to pledge to read environmentally themed books  throughout  the month of April in honor of Earth Day. At the end of April, Earth Day Network will ask participating libraries to count, record, and report the number of pledges made at their libraries.  All participating libraries will receive Certificates of Participation which will be emailed to you using the email that you provide during registration.   Download and to print the official Reading  for the Earth™ pledge sheet click here.

Each pledge will count as an act of green in our A  Billion Acts of Green®  campaign,. The purpose of this campaign is to mobilize one billion acts of environmental service around the world.  The campaign calls for people of all nationalities to commit to an act that helps reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability.  Collectively, these acts will also demonstrate the power of small every-day individual acts of green. For more information on A Billion Acts of Green® visit:

Certificate to award to students who have pledged to read an environmental book

Earth Day Network – India

India has emerged as a decisive environmental, social, economic and political power. Earth Day Network is engaging with partners to build and enhance the region’s civic mobilization and leadership in the environmental movement.It is unfortunate that the government still pursues military strengthening as part of its political power base -we can hope for more peaceful pursuits so that the environment does not suffer any more through destructive power plays.

Building on the success of its 40th Anniversary Earth Day campaign, Earth Day Network has launched a permanent India Program, head- quartered in Kolkata, India. Projects in India focus on :

• Environmental Education
Women & The Green Economy (WAGETM)
• Capacity Building & Training
• Earth Day — India

Check out Hesperian

April 22 is Earth Day!  Hesperian is celebrating by releasing A Community Guide to Environmental Health. Also there is a new HealthWiki! This digital format makes it easy to access, edit and adapt the material for local needs.

And how big is your environmental footprint? Calculate the impact you are having on the planet.

Crises in a New World Order: Challenging the Humanitarian Project -Oxfam publication

Crises in a New World Order: Challenging the Humanitarian Project

This is a new publication from OXFAM

In 2010, vast humanitarian crises from Haiti to Pakistan almost overwhelmed the international system’s ability to respond. Despite years of reform, UN agencies, donors, and international NGOs (INGOs) struggled to cope. In 2011, Somalia yet again saw a response too little and too late, driven by media attention, not a timely, impartial assessment of human needs. At the same time, humanitarian action is needed now more than ever. The growing number of vulnerable people, the rise in disasters, and the failure to put most fragile states on the path to development, will significantly increase needs. Western-based donors, INGOs and the UN provide only part of the answer.


The full report is available here.

Earth Summit 2012 -Rio +20…..Green Jobs?

Attempting to put sustainable development into practice will mean that ordinary people all over the world must benefit. This will change attitudes and encourage more investment in innovation and job creation. All countries have a responsibility but developing countries , in particular could benefit greatly by not making the same mistakes as others.
Here is a publication which focuses on the potential for creating ‘green jobs’
Assessing Green Jobs Potential in Developing Countries- A Practitioner’s Guide, ILO

This book provides guidance on how to estimate the actual and potential level of economic activity and number of jobs related to the environment in a developing country context. It is intended to be generic in its application (i.e. relevant to a wide range of countries) and therefore flexible enough to accommodate different sets of economic and environmental conditions. The guide has been developed as part of an ILO-funded project led by GHK that mapped green employment in Bangladesh. That study will be published as the first of a series of papers, each looking at a different country. These country studies should be seen as companions to this guide. They give detailed information on how methods set out here have been applied. A researcher who is considering a study for her or his country should therefore consult the country studies as well as this document. The project process involves agreeing a detailed working definition of “green jobs”, and quantification of the direct and indirect employment linked to green growth (e.g. through input–output (I-O) coefficients and modelling). It is intended that further testing and development through application in other countries will help to improve the depth and breadth of the guidance over time. Download Publication

World Health Day – April 7th 2012

World Health Day – April 7th 2012

Every year, World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April to mark the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948. Each year a theme is selected for World Health Day that highlights a priority area of concern for WHO.

World Health Day is a global campaign, inviting everyone – from global leaders to the public in all countries – to focus on a single health challenge with global impact. Focusing on new and emerging health issues, World Health Day provides an opportunity to start collective action to protect people’s health and well-being.

The theme this year is ageing and health and WHO has produced a brief for this year: Global brief for World Health Day 2012


Education at all levels can provide the right messages for healthy living but learners may not be healthy enough in the first place to learn well.

Much money is invested in education – new curricula, learning materials, infrastructure and teachers but when children are unhealthy they may not learn much.

In many parts of the world children suffer from worms which take much of the child’s nutrients from their little food – for very little we could at least solve that problem.Children often suffer from malaria, respiratory diseases, continuous diarrhoea etc.

UNICEF has been at the forefront of promoting good health for children around the world:

WASH and health
Poor sanitation, unsafe water and unhygienic practices cause millions of children in the developing world to suffer needlessly from disease. Water- and sanitation-related disease,  despite being preventable, remains one of the most significant child health problems worldwide.

Diarrhoea is the most serious of these diseases, alone killing over 3,000 children each day. 88% of diarrhoeal disease is attributed to unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Children in developing countries typically have four to five bouts of diarrhoea a year. Even when they don’t kill, these diarrhoea episodes can physically and mentally stunt children, affecting them for the rest of their lives. By weakening children, diarrhoea increases mortality rates from other opportunistic diseases, including ARI (acute respiratory infections). ARI and diarrhoea together account for two-thirds of all child deaths worldwide.


“Sanitation is the single most important medical advance since 1840” — British Medical Journal reader survey

Millions of other children are made sick, weakened or are disabled by other water- and sanitation-related diseases and infections including cholera, malaria, trachoma, schistosomiasis, worm infestations and guinea worm disease. And in a growing number of countries, natural or man-made pollution of water sources with dangerous contaminants threatens millions of people.


WASH and education
A high percentage of children suffer from intestinal infections caused by parasites as a result of poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation. Parasites consume nutrients, aggravate malnutrition, retard children’s physical development and result in poor school attendance and performance. Household chores, such as fetching water, keep many girls out of school. Also, the lack of separate and decent sanitation and washing facilities in schools discourages girls from attending school full time and forces some to drop out. The majority of the 121 million school-age children not in school are girls.

WASH and development
Poor water and sanitation exact a heavy economic cost in terms of health spending, loss of productivity and labour diversion. If everyone in the world had access to basic water and sanitation services, the reduction in diarrhoeal disease alone would save the health sector $11.6 billion in treatment costs and people would gain over 5.6 billion productive days per year.  When the potential economic gains of providing basic, low-cost water and sanitation facilities are added together, the developing world could save as much as $263 billion a year (see box).

Promoting improved hygiene practices and increasing access to water and sanitation facilities helps to reduce opportunistic infections among people living with HIV/AIDS. Better access to facilities also reduces the burden on households caring for AIDS-affected family members. Less time spent on fetching water allows caregivers – who are usually women and girls – more time and energy for coping with the disease or for working outside the home. Appropriate sanitation also helps to ensure that AIDS sufferers, many of whom experience severe bouts of diarrhoea, have access to clean and private facilities.

Health and Education are key issues in any emergency and INEE continue to update their excellent resources:

INEE Pocket Guide to Supporting Learners with Disabilities 

  • Helps to strengthen the efforts of anyone working with teachers or facilitators in an emergency, whether as part of the formal education system or a non-governmental programme. This guide offers practical ideas for including children and young people with disabilities in education during or after an emergency. It strives to address current barriers to inclusive education.
  • Currently available in English, French and Bahasa Indonesia.
  • Implementation Tools include: Supporting Learners with Disabilities Poster in English and Arabic; “Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms: A Guide for Teachers” in English; and “Making Schools Inclusive: How Change Can Happen” in English.

Guidance on HIV in Education in Emergencies

  • Provides information for education practitioners who provide, manage or support education services in emergencies. It provides guidance for mainstreaming HIV and sexual and reproductive health issues into formal and non-formal education responses for adolescents 10-19 years old.
  • Currently available in English.
  • Implementation Tools include: “A Strategic Approach: HIV & AIDS and Education” in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish; “HIV & AIDS and Supportive Learning Environments” in English and French; and the “IASC Guidelines for Addressing HIV in Humanitarian Settings” in English

Hesperian books have for many years produced excellent resources for those living and working in developing countries, such as where there is no doctor

The Road To Health in the Indian Himalayas
Ryan Phillips
“The bags came up the mountain trail on the back of a horse as usual.  Inside there was a parcel sent from America by our friend Janet Meek.  Along with a few comforts from home was a copy of Where There Is No Doctor.  Inside the cover was scribbled a small note which said, “Thought this might come in handy, though I hope you never have to use it.”  There was no way she could have known what would become the irony of this statement or that she had cast a spark into the tinderbox of our community..”
Ecological Sanitation Latrines Transform Rural Ethiopia
Judy Sanderman

“In rural Ethiopia, we have proceeded in stages from open-field defecation to ecological-sanitation latrines (Ecosan).  These above-ground latrines keep groundwater clean, divert urine for use as fertilizer, and compost feces.  It seems like a miracle to have watched villagers go from their first understanding of hygiene to their enthusiastic embrace of these latrines…  The path to Ecosan began with the section on Sanitation and Cleanliness from your book A Community Guide to Environmental Health.”
Disabled Children in Ecuador Get a Second Chance
Irene Saunders

“With the help of photos and diagrams in Disabled Village Children I paid a local carpenter to construct a chair and a stander for him. The stander helped to strengthen his bones even though he would never walk or stand on his own. I made him braces to keep his feet in alignment. Using the stander and the chair, he could, for the first time, work at the table with the other children, using his right hand for drawing, pasting, clay and block building.”

2012 – 2016 UNHCR Education Strategy

2012 – 2016 UNHCR Education Strategy

This education strategy is anchored in a renewed focus on ensuring the provision of refugee education, not as a peripheral stand-alone service but as a core component of UNHCR’s protection and durable solutions mandate. Quality education that builds relevant skills and knowledge enables refugees to live healthy, productive lives and builds skills for self-reliance. At present, many refugees do not have access to quality education that provides physical protection and personal capacity development. This is particularly true for marginalised groups, including children and young people with physical and cognitive disabilities; overaged learners who have missed out on years of schooling; and children associated with armed forces.

The full report is available here.

The Experience of New Teachers: Results from Talis 2008

The Experience of New Teachers: Results from Talis 2008 (OECD)

This report examines the working lives of new teachers through the Talis 2008 survey of lower-secondary teachers and schools. new teachers are defined as having two years or less of teaching experience. In most countries, new teachers assume virtually the same teaching responsibilities as more experienced teachers, but they report that they often lack the necessary classroom management skills for effective teaching and learning. Their classrooms often have insufficient time devoted to teaching and learning and poorer disciplinary climate.


The full report is available here.