Over 300 students in 9 provinces have been empowered to become ‘Champions of Green Energy’ as Sri Lanka pushes forward on the agenda to shift from fossils to renewable energies.

Students, youth and teachers representing schools from all nine provinces took part in an interactive series of training courses aiming to enhance awareness, knowledge and enthusiasm on renewable energy and energy efficiency in their schools and homes. After participating in the workshop, the trained students will be tasked to conduct another 10 workshops in their respective provinces. As a result, 90 awareness workshops will reach at least 2700 students.

The workshops were part of a series of ToT (Training of Trainers) programs in selected schools of all nine provinces, which includes two workshops per province and 50 trainers in each province. This ToT workshops were tailor made for secondary school students to introduce Green Energy technologies in an early stage of education as well as to motivate the students to engage in simple energy conserving practices individually.

“This series of workshop created a platform for students and teachers to come together and work on topics like energy efficiency and waste management seriously and discuss practical measures that they can implement in their schools. Although school syllabus has incorporated theoretical aspects of energy efficiency, most of the students and teachers were unable to translate this into practical projects.  We were glad to see them working together to convert these learnings to actual projects”, said Damitha Samarakoon, Deputy Director of Janathakshan.

Each of the selected schools have “Renewable Energy Clubs” established which will then serve as a framework to further introduce renewable energy systems at the schools by the trained students. As a follow up to these workshops, these students are in the process of developing their own module and conducting pilot projects through guidance and support from Janathakshan. Some of these pilots include solar rooftops, biogas, energy efficient school lighting, composting and home gardening projects for the school.

The Federal Foreign Office in Germany supports Sri Lanka’s ambitions to promote renewable energies by providing accessibility to information and by sensitising the general public for a more conscious use of energy through the Green Energy Champion project implemented by GIZ. For this initiative, GIZ partnered with Janathakshan to spread the word on the need of energy efficiency and to build up a network of green energy ambassadors who will take the message further to their villages. Janathakshan is a not for profit organization that promotes the use of green energy technology in Sri Lanka.

“Energy saving is a global concern no matter where we live. We depend on the next generation to treat this planet better than we are currently doing. That is why we have to empower children to take ownership of such initiatives and to become change agents in their societies”, said GIZ Country Director Randa-Kourieh Ranarivelo.

A student at Bandarawela workshop said, “I want to become an engineer in the future and hope to get a better insight into techniques for renewable energies”. This was one of the answers often heard from the students at the workshops. Many of them also expressed their concerns about the waste management and energy efficiency in their home towns and schools which is why they want to do something about it.

Changing the mindset of people and familiar patterns of energy usage is a long journey but the motivated young students gathered in this workshop is a promising small step to a greener future in Sri Lanka.