Are there limits to teaching and learning? No. Are there limits to how far transformative ideas can spread? No. In the past few weeks, I have been studying the Green Curtains of Japan, an initiative of the government to reduce energy consumption by planting climbing plants on commercial and residential buildings.
What strikes me most, however, is how this idea has the potential to be replicated in thousands of schools in some regions of this continent where it would achieve multiple benefits beyond those in Japan. where not only would such green curtains reduce classroom temperatures, they would also reduce the dust entering classrooms, provide vegetables to supplement school meals, while also providing a living classrooms for the pupils.
Specifically, in arid and semi-arid regions, where I have had a chance to work with primary schools in the past, school compounds are often bare, and there is minimal rainwater harvesting. These two challenges would be addressed as water from roofs is captured to maintain the growing of climbing plants while the once bare compounds would be greened with decorative and edible plants.
Unlike in Japan where certain plants have already been identified for the purposes of Green Curtains, replicating this idea to different parts of the continent would require identification of what climbing plants would do well in what climatic conditions. Of course this is agricultural information already available with extension officers, and the effort would be in accessing and ensuring the right practices are adopted at the school level.
Importantly, would be the integration of Green Curtains in not just the teaching and school meals, but also the inclusion of the wider school community including the school management and the community members who would learn and replicate such ideas in their homes. Hence, Green Curtains would address much bigger challenges of food security and nutrition at a household level, and if scaled up, might even result into an income-earning activity for households as they sell the produce from their curtains!