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Recycle Educational Materials: Everyone Wins

By Joy Jameson
Recycle Educational Materials: Everyone Wins

International schools around the world pride themselves on having the latest educational materials. With big budgets and easy access to major publishers, there is a constant turn-over in materials and teaching supplies—whether they are text books or manipulatives. However, this process often results in the accumulation of huge quantities of supplies from previous book adoptions or teaching programs that are no longer used. Have you ever wondered what happens to all of these extra materials? One solution schools use is to pile the materials in a central location and let teachers look through them. In this way, some of the materials are recycled. Teachers may cut pictures out of the books, use some items as supplemental materials for students needing extra reinforcement or advancement, or for tutoring. Other institutions take the time to connect with local schools and eventually donate the materials. In many countries, such schools operate under very precarious circumstances, so they are thrilled to receive any and all items. Even if the books are in English, educators can still use the photos, drawings, and concepts in their teaching. For them, receiving these materials can be a real windfall. Due to lack of staff, time, or motivation, some schools simply toss all of the materials into the trash. At this point, distribution is left up to the garbage diggers that are so common in many countries, or the materials simply become part of the local landfill. International schools emphasize the importance of recycling and caring for our environment, yet, unfortunately, they don’t always practice what they preach. Instead of adding to the environmental pollution in the world, wouldn’t it be better to share the wealth enjoyed by international schools with host-country schools? Sounds like a good idea, you say, but schools don’t have time for that. However, this would make a great project for school groups looking to do meaningful community service work. A redemption operation could be run through counseling programs or through more traditional school groups, and could include students at all grade levels. It would be a great teamwork experience with some groups sorting, stacking, and packing while others research locations that could benefit from donations. Schools would be teaching students so much about sharing, caring, and life in general. Why not give those obsolete educational materials a chance for a second life? Let’s spread the international school wealth and help to save the environment at the same time. The decision is yours!

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