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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

FAO Director-General visits innovative school programme with Moroccan Princess Lalla Hasnaa

21 November 2016, Marrakech - As a special guest of Moroccan Princess Lalla Hasnaa, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for the Protection of the Environment and a great champion of education, one of the highlights of the Director-General's participation at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, was a visit to an elementary school.

The Director-General was greeted by an enthusiastic throng of schoolchildren dressed in white smocks and caps. Behind the typical basketball court and hopscotch board found in schools worldwide lay an enchanting surprise. A large cultivated garden where children presented various projects: a bio-organic garden, a patch of aromatic herbs, a compost station.

I was so impressed by these young students who know so much about the very areas of sustainable development and agriculture that FAO works so hard to promote,” said Graziano. “Imagine, an 8-year-old discussing the merits of managing our natural resources wisely, the challenges of urbanization, the need to produce food well and not to waste, and even the necessity for monitoring and evaluation. It was an absolutely inspiring moment for me.” 

Accompanied by Rachid Benmokhtar Benabdellah, the Moroccan Minister of Education and Training, as well as other dignitaries, the visit also included a multimedia presentation on energy and a special song sung by pre-schoolers. 

Eco-écoles, the Foundation’s flagship programme is an innovative approach to learning. Focusing on five main themes – food, water, waste, biodiversity and energy – it integrates the principles of sustainable development across every subject rather than teaching it as a separate subject. The programme rallies all education actors – from teachers, to parents, to administrators and government – to ensure that students are at the heart of the learning process. Schools that successfully implement the Eco-école programme receive a special ‘Pavillon Vert’ [Green Flag] Label.

Launched ten years ago in 17 schools, today more than 230 schools in Morocco participate and over 60 countries have adopted the programme.

As a gift to the school, the Director-General offered activity books produced for this year’s World Food Day celebrations. Thanking and complimenting Her Royal Highness for her vision on promoting the programme, he added: “Everyone benefits from this way of learning. It nurtures a generation of young citizens who are already acutely aware of issues relevant to food security and Zero Hunger.”