Lessons in Building a Green Future

In just under one month children at the Ecole Ruban Vert - an international school I founded in my home country of Gabon - will depart for the summer holidays.

It will be the end of our second year as a complete school on our new campus which covers seven green hectares with over one thousand species of flora and fauna right in the heart of Gabon's capital Libreville.

But as the children take a well-deserved break, our work is only just beginning. Gabon is at a turning point. It has embarked on a bold strategy to become an emerging and diversified economy by 2025. This growth will be based away from oil, towards higher value sectors such as sustainable forestry, agriculture, plus mining and extraction industries.

All of this requires a new kind of education that will create a generation that has the skills to lead Gabon.

While the national education reform is underway, the purpose of Ecole Ruban Vert was to test new ideas. Unfortunately, in the last 50 years, the educational systems in most sub-Saharan countries have been a mix of hybrid curricula copied on a Eurocentric approach not adapted to the realities of the indigenous pupils, their strengths and their weaknesses.

Ecole Ruban Vert was founded to create this new standard of education for Gabon; an education tied to international standards to create the types of leaders that fit with the vision of the country.

Crucially, and in keeping with this vision, we decided to become the first school in the region to create a generation whose education was based on sustainability.

A central pillar of the government's vision for the future of Gabon is and building a green Gabon and this requires a generation of leaders who see sustainable development as central to the country's future growth.

Our students learn about environmental protection and preservation, climate change, energy, recycling and upcycling, green business practice and acting responsibly; this guides and develops them into environmentally aware and active leaders. We focus on local ideas and examples, using Gabon as our inspiration, but we consider our community action in a global context, making positive changes for our school and our local area.

My hope is that one day Ecole Ruban Vert can inspire other nations to adopt similar approaches and create a generation of sustainably minded leaders. For too long education in Africa has been viewed as needing to 'catch-up' with the West, but through projects like this we can show how Africa can lead as well.