Towards keeping the planet green …

Sunday, September 26th, 2010 | Sustainability

We are all into keeping the planet green.  One way of doing this is by being conscious of paper consumption.

One tree can yield about 8 000 sheets of paper (of course, it depends on the size of the tree and the type of paper, but I’m using averages and round figures for illustration purposes here).  Imagine an average school in South Africa with 800 learners, and suppose 100 pages are used by each learner for class tests and examinations throughout the year: in such a school 80 000 pages are used during the course of the year.  This equates to 10 trees.  With 22 000 schools in South Africa, it means that 220 000 are falling victim annually to satisfy the demands of assessment.

Some people go to great lengths to find other ways to produce paper.  An alternative to trees is elephant dung.  Yes, elephant dung!  Each elephant can produce 50 kg of dung per day, which could be processed to create 115 pages of paper.   Such efforts must be applauded!

Potential paper source

If my maths is correct, it would take 700 elephant days (roughly two elephant years) to produce enough paper for one school; or 44 000 elephant years to produce paper for the entire country for every school year.

The problem is: where do we find so many elephants?  And what is more, each elephant consumes about 200-250 kg of vegetation per day to produce 50 kg of dung.

Isn’t there an alternative?  How about harnessing electronic means to assess students?    Tools such as assessment software and clickers are used by many teachers to cut down on the volume of paper used in the classroom.  This must be an easier and cleaner way for a teacher to make a contribution towards keeping the planet green.

Click here for an Afrikaans version of this posting.

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4 Comments to Towards keeping the planet green …

Pam Miller
Sunday, 26 September, 2010

I hope that you will be attending some of the sessions of the Innovate Conference being held now at The Cape Academy for Mathematics, Science and Technology. There are demos on using SMSs for communicating with parents and sessions on online assessments, amongst other initiatives on using ICT in the classroom. My presentation will focus on using teachers’ energy more effectively than marking and marking and marking screeds of paper based assessments. All contributing to green computing.

Mark C
Thursday, 30 September, 2010

We must be careful that one solution does not create a bigger problem in the end. We may be saving the trees but melting the ice.

A solution lies in ME, I or US. Our behaviour must change towards renewable and sustainable energy resources.

A comment about our cousins in the department. They like to see green ticks next to red ticks. Does assessing a child always have to be a paper test? Thick paper-based portfolio’s are still part of our education. It hasn’t disappeared. Feel it! It is there…in a cupboard…just in case questions are asked. The public is being hoodwinked by less work for teachers.

Ticks = work done(?). Work done = understanding?

Thursday, 30 September, 2010

I must agree with the issue about PAPER ! The time has arrived where all educators (teachers) and learners (pupils) must use a memory stick (with some backup HDD) to do all their CONTENT BASED tasks, tests, projects, assessments and portfolios and a host of other data recording !!

A “chip from the wooden block / trunk” can be replaced with a microchip !!

Albie A3 A4 A5 Paper Conservationist

Dereck Marnewick
Wednesday, 6 October, 2010

Our company, EvaluNet, has an excellent electronic assessment product. In fact over 20 schools performed part of their annual national assessments using our software on October of last year – this saved on paper, marking and marks administration i.e. collating of results. It boggles the mind why the WCED in light of the number of schools with Khanya centres has not made use of our software. The software is already in use in over 200 schools countrywide, ranging from very affluent private schools to financially disadvantaged schools in the townships. The softwar has ALL learning outcomes for EVERY subject built in i.e. when the results are generated the teacher not only sees the learners result but also what the learner achieved per LO. Transcripts of the test can also be veiwed/printed so that the teacher can see what each learner answered for each question.
Albie, you told us that when you were still teaching at Gordons Bay primary you only used our software and no longer a red pen. The cost of the software – we have recently adjusted the cost so that it will not cost the school more than the annual cost on printing and paper for the tests conducted!

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