We’ve just had an inspiring letter from Fachruddin Mangunjaya from Conservation International Indonesia attaching a story from the Jakarta Globe about the fantastic initiatives by Muslim boarding schools to keep the environment clean. And it cites ARC’s work as one of the early inspirations.
“When founders of the Darul Ulum boarding school started building their school compound in 1995, it was so hot and humid that they had second thoughts whether the place was really suitable for learning. Four years later, the air around the school is cool and fresh, and 700 trees — mango, avocado, rambutan and durian — thrive. This came about because the founders decided to set aside one hectare of the 7-hectare area as a harim, or forbidden, zone. Any form of production and settlement in it was banned. And what is more, every student is required to plant a tree before they can take the school’s final academic test.”
The article goes on to explain how the school imposed a ‘one student one tree,’ policy and evaluated students not only on planting trees but also on how they maintained them. I’d love to see whether such an idea could be expanded or adapted to other parts of the world – and indeed will be sending it out to our Catholic Schools network in the UK to see what they think.
At our Faith in Water conference last month, Fachruddin told us about how other boarding schools had also actually helped create a new national park – in large part because the river water needed for tackling ritual ablutions was so foul that they decided to campaign for the upstream areas to be protected.
So 31,900 students from 19 schools converged in Bogor (a shady city a couple of hours from Jakarta, where the main Botanical Gardens is sited) resulting in the forming of the Gunung Gede Pangrango and Halimun-Salak national park. And hopefully that’s not the end: 1,311 of West Java’s pesantrens are located in mountainous areas, 1,065 in agricultural estates, 87 on coastal lands and 114 by rivers. “Protecting the environment is a religious duty,” says K.H. Mansyur Ma’mun, leader of the Al-Amanah boarding school in Bandung.