If predictions of catastrophic temperature rises come true few people may be better equipped to deal with that nightmare than graduates of a unique eco-school on the Indonesian island of Bali, where an innovative curriculum has been designed to produce future “stewards of the environment”.

Founded last year by Canadian John Hardy and his American wife, Cynthia, the Green School is nestled in a tropical grove near Ubud, in the centre of an island better known for its luxury beachside resorts.The only man-made structure visible at what amounts to the school gate is a 140-foot bamboo bridge with a sweeping roof made of traditional grass slats known locally as alang-alang.Small crops of rice and vegetables grow on each side of the river, living class projects meant to connect the children to the food they eat.

Following the path on the other side of the bridge, the hypnotic humming of cicadas and the gurgling of the Ayung is suddenly broken by children’s laughter, the first reminder that this is actually a schoolyard.

And so it unfolds: a school made entirely of bamboo, with open classrooms covered by roofs of alang-alang; a campus dotted by crops and edible plants like fragrant lemon grass and papayas; and John Hardy, sitting in a sarong and sandals and explaining that it is time to “bring the kids back to the Earth”.

“Green School is like a seed for the future, something that will grow in spirit,” Hardy tells AFP in an interview, over a cool drink made from fresh ginger which has been grown by the students. “We are teaching reading, writing and arithmetic but we are doing it in a completely ‘green’ environment. My belief is that this affects the heart of the child and we will end up with ‘green’ beings.”The Hardys, 30-year residents of Bali, provided the start-up capital for the school through the sale of their jewelery business in 2007.

Opened in September last year, the school has around 150 students from 23 countries, ranging from grades one to nine.In addition to core subjects like maths and literacy, which are based on the Cambridge International General Certificate in Secondary Education, the school offers ecology studies and “mud-between-the-toes” activities tailored to each age-group.

Experiential learning is encouraged through the growing of crops and projects involving aquatic systems, awareness of waste and water usage, animal care, sustainable building and renewable energy. Teachers and students use self-composting toilets and a biodiesel generator supplies most of the school’s electricity. The plan is to take the school “off the grid”, using solar panels and a hydropower unit connected to the river.

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