Jigme Losel Primary School in Thimphu is one of the schools in the country that emphasises on welfare of disadvantaged communities and environmental conversation.

Every year, the school extends its charity services by giving cash to underprivileged students to support their studies, clothes to monks, and donate to NGOs.

The school mobilises fund through sale of non-degradable waste, plastic, cans, tins and papers among others and turning them into items of economic value. The teachers, students and parents voluntarily collect the waste and bring it to school where it is segregated and sold.

Principal Choki Dukpa said that selling non-degradable waste not only helped raise fund but also sensitised on waste management and environmental conversation. “With this mechanism, we are able to control waste both in and out of the school campus.”

From 2013 to 2017, the school collected more than Nu 0.5 million through the sale of waste. The wastes are re-cycled and sold to economically disadvantages parents at reasonable rate who then sell it across the border.

From the fund, the school last year offered Ku-Sung Mendrel to His Holiness the Je Khenpo during the oral transmission of Kanjyur (words of Buddha) at the Kuenselphodrang in Thimphu. It also made cash donations to Benshingmo Primary School and Cheya Primary School in Udzorong, Trashigang.

The school also sponsored clothes for some students, helped a field trip and exchange programme in Thimphu. They also helped little monks with blankets and mattress, and donated to cancer patients.

Inspired by a National Geographic documentary “Going Green”, Jigme Losel School initiated mass waste management programme in the school as one of the school’s main activities.

From 2013 to 2017, the school collected 29,937kg tins and cans, 47,405kg papers and 41,415kg of pet bottles, which made up 118.757 metric tonnes of non-degradable waste.

Choki Dukpa said: “We re-cycle the waste to help raise fund and also to inculcate values of waste management in the minds of young children.”

Located in the heart of Thimphu, the school grows flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Vegetables are used for the mid-day meal plan, which the school initiated to give extra care to the children.

Built on the theory of 6-Rs, the school makes best use of waste. Re-use encourages use of pet bottles for storing water, watering garden, use bottle caps for classroom decoration, as flower pots and prayer wheel, and writing as letters on banners.

Re-cycled bags replaced plastic bags, plastic baskets, papers and bags. The plastics are also made into mats, banners, teaching materials, counting beads, and book marks.

The school tries to ‘Reduce’ waste by not buying unnecessary things that simply pollute the environment. It emphasises on Re-educating students so that it serves as a constant reminder.

“We tend to forget very easily so Re-teaching helps serve as a constant reminder to our children,” Choki Dukpa said. “There is no other being who can understand as humans do, so it is our responsibilities to protect environment from further damage.”

The waste management programme has also inspired parents. Most of the parents collect the waste and bring it to school when they come to drop and pick their children.

The school rewards active participants certificates, prizes and arranging audience with important religious figures.

Besides waste management, the school also focuses on health and nutrition.

With the help of UNICEF, the school promotes use of safe drinking water, safe use of toilet, personal hygiene, and menstrual hygiene, hand washing with soap, waste management, and food hygiene.

The school in the last five years won 10 awards for initiating programmes to protect environment and school feeding programme. The awards were from the National Environment Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, UNESCO, among others.

Tenzin Namgyel