The Danube goes to school

Danube Watch 3 2006

The Danube goes to school

An innovative new educational tool, in use in Austria and with national versionsscheduled for Romania, Hungary and Serbia, is helping schoolchildren in theDanube Basin to understand the vital role rivers play in their lives.

Credit: Coca-Cola HBC/Fallander

Josef Pröll, Water Minister, Austria; Philip Weller, Executive Secretary of the ICPDR; Ulrike Gehmacher, Coca-Cola HBC; Monika Polster, Coca-Cola Austria; and Uli Sima, Environment Councillor of Vienna, celebrate the launch of the Danube Box on Danube Day 2006. The Danube Box was developed under the guidance of a team of Austrian education experts, and is available free of charge to teachers interested in using it in their classrooms.

Most children in the Danube Basin are able to name the closest river. But they might have difficulties saying where the river flows from or to. And it might be impossible for them to name the ten countries the Danube flows through. A new educational tool based on the principles and objectives of sustainability and environmental education will now assist teachers in bringing the Danube closer to the minds and the hearts of the future generation.

Danube Day 2006 was a special Danube Day – not only did it celebrate the Danube Rivers, but is also saw the launch of the Danube Box. This innovative education kit for teachers was developed over the last 16 months and is now available in German and English. It consists of a teaching kit that will give local schoolchildren a greater understanding of the river, the threats posed to the river, and the need to preserve water resources.

Speaking about the Danube Box, Philip Weller, Executive Secretary of the ICPDR, said, “The Danube Box answers a need to effectively communicate information and appreciation to the younger generation on the importance of the Danube River and its tributaries as part of our natural heritage.”

Partners in education. The Danube Box was developed by the ‘Green Danube Partnership’, established in June 2005 between the Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola HBC and the ICPDR. The ‘Green Danube Partnership’ is an initiative to demonstrate business responsibility for the future of the Danube. “We take our corporate social responsibilities very seriously indeed,” said Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith, a member of the board of directors of Coca-Cola HBC, “and we have significant operations along the Danube River which contribute to water conservation and to a wider understanding of the concept of sustainable development.”

The Danube Box is already in use in Austria, where it is supported by the Ministries of Water and Education, and discussions are currently under way for national versions for Romania, Hungary and Serbia. The first step will be to set up national project teams composed of representatives of the Ministries of Water Management and Education, as well as relevant NGOs and pedagogical institutions. It is hoped that the Danube Box will be made available to school authorities in other countries along the Danube.

Jasmine Bachmann works on public participation in the ICPDR Permanent Secretariat, and is the Executive Editor of Danube Watch.

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