STARS - Project Launch

Date: 29th August 2013, 5.00 – 6.00 pm
Venue: 5th Floor Conference Hall, Dempo House, Campal, Panaji, Goa

The state of Goa is facing some major environmental challenges stemming from its key economic drivers, which further get exacerbated in light of the anticipated climate change impacts. There is an urgent need for a more balanced approach – the need for a development path that is economically viable, socially equitable, and ecologically bearable. Project STARS – seeks to inspire and encourage schools to practice the principles of sustainability by focusing on its environmental and social performance – both tied together with a strong local cultural thread.

The project has been conceptualised by TERI, and builds further on the carried under the previous TERI-DEMPO initiative ‘The Vasudeva V. Dempo Climate Change Awareness Programme for Goan School Children’. A launch programme was organised to introduce this pertinent project to the media so that awareness regarding the project would spread to a wider audience.  The legal formalities in terms of signing of the agreement between Dempo group of companies that was supporting this project and TERI, that is executing the project was carried out.

Journalist from the leading new houses of Goa, attended this programme and covered the event in their newspaper.  The annex 2 documents some of the news articles.

Summary of sessions
Welcome and lighting of the lamp
The event was inaugurated with the lighting of the lamp ceremony.  The chief guest of the function, Dr. K K Nadkarni, Dy. Director (AE), Directorate of Education, Government of Goa lit the lamp and inaugurated the programme.  The other dignitaries, Mr. Srinivas Dempo, Ms. Ranjana Saikia, Mr. Boke also participated in the lighting the lamp ceremony.

Opening Remarks
The opening remarks were made by Mr. B T Boke, Senior General Manager (Human Resources) and Head- CSR, Dempo Group of Companies (Nodal Person- Project STARS).  Mr. Boke spoke of the various CSR work carried out by the Dempo group of companies in the area of mining, sports and education. He then introduced TERI and the work that the organisation has been carrying out and highlighted the past association Dempo group of companies has had with TERI.

Welcome Address by President
Mr. Srinivas Dempo Chairman, Dempo Group of Companies, welcomed the gathering and said that project STARS was the resumption and further cementing of ties between TERI and Dempo.  He said that schools can serve as laboratories of sustainable living and can demonstrate success to others. Given this background, project STARS was conceptualised to take the work forward that was initiated in the previous project to a new level.

The previous project was homage to his father, Mr. Vasudeva V. Dempo, where in students were sensitised to environmental concerns relating to climate change. This project goes beyond sensitization, it demonstrates how sustainability can be made part of one’s lifestyle. Students are like sponge, and absorb and internalise their learning’s.  Hence as educators and role models we need to direct and stimulate their quest for knowledge and learning. He said that he looked forward to project STARS, and was very optimistic of its success as it was strongly poised with an excellent partnership with TERI and the State Education Department.

He then went on the urge the media to report environmental issues more vehemently and become active participants of social change.

Project Overview
Ms. Shabana Kazi, Research Associate, TERI spoke about the project STARS.  She presented the goal and objectives of the project.  These were:

  • To promote resource efficiency in schools by putting identified interventions in place
  • To encourage schools to involve their immediate communities so as to address environmental & issues of concern in their neighbourhoods
  • To build skill sets of students to help them deal with the various environmental challenges they are faced with on a daily basis
  • To promote the importance of valuing and preserving local culture and knowledge in the context of sustainable development
  • To disseminate knowledge on key sustainability issues in the region.

She then went on to inform that the project will work with 10 schools across Goa and presented the pool of shortlisted schools from the previous project.  She then went on to explain the activities that will be conducted over the three year period of the project.  The major activities were baseline assessments, putting the identified hardware interventions in place, sensitization sessions & site visits, resource material development, end line impact assessments, and, the development of a documentary that will encapsulate the work undertaken at the various project schools.

Major outcome of this project would be the creation of replicable school models. Other schools can draw inspiration and motivation to follow suit and promote the cause of sustainable development in letter and spirit by establishing themselves as vibrant, dynamic and sustainable educational institutes.

Contextual Remarks by Chief Guest
The chief guest of the programme, Dr. K K Nadkarni, Dy. Director (AE), Directorate of Education, Government of Goa then spoke.  He began his remarks by paying obeisance to the Dempo family as he went on to highlight that it was due to their charitable work that he was able to complete his education in Goa itself.

He went on to congratulate the inception of a great programme that was relevant to Goa. He said that mere formal education in schools is not enough, along with knowledge and skills, students need to bring about an attitudinal change.  Value education and non -formal teaching methods could help in this direction.  Project STARS is conceptualised keeping this in mind.

Local culture needs to be learnt, protected and preserved and students need to proactively participate in this direction. There is a huge influx of tourists and migrants into Goa, which is putting pressure on the natural resource base of the state and hence ecological problems are increasing.  There is a need to see how individually, people can contribute to minimise the impact.

Education has to motivate and empower students, it should give them the confidence to face and solve problems, when this happens true learning has taken place.  Having environment education as a compulsory subject or having NSS will not address ecological problems as the students motivation is guided by marks, this needs to change.  Inner motivation is required to effectively bring about changes in society.

Concluding Remarks
Ms. Ranjana Saikia, Director, EYSD, TERI went on to conclude todays programme and highlighted that sustainability is the key.  She highlighted that within TERI, the same is given a lot of importance and is an integral part of TERI’s vision and mission.

She then went on to highlight that for meaningful and successful programmes, there is a need for strong partnerships. Having achieved this over the course of the previous project, she too expressed optimism to successfully deliver this project.

MoU Signing
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Dempo and TERI.  Mr. B T Boke, signed the document on behalf of Dempo group of companies and Ms. Ranjana Saikia signed the document on behalf of TERI.

Q & A with Media Persons
In this session, questions were taken from the media regarding the project.  The media was keen on understanding how the pool of 15 schools were arrived at.  To this, Ms. Kazi explained that dedicated and committed schools from the previous phase were shortlisted, subsequent to which another round of shortlisting will be done to work with only 10 schools.  One of the important criteria that will be kept in mind is to see how keen the schools are in taking the work forward that the project would initiate.

Vote of Thanks
Mr. Rajiv S. Kulkarni, Assistant Manager (CSR & HR), V S Dempo & Co. Pvt. Ltd (Nodal Person Project STARS) proposed the vote of thanks.