One of the reasons we were drawn to Bali was a school. We’re not planning on having kids anytime soon nor do we even know if that’s a path we’ll go down, but we realised when we were in San Pancho that when it comes to choosing a place to live, good education options might be something we need to pay attention to. San Pancho has that covered with the Costa Verde School in Sayulita, which has a focus on sustainability – something I hadn’t come across before in a school. It prompted me to do a little research into other eco-focused schools around the world, through which I quickly found Bali’s Green School.
Voted the Greenest School on Earth, Green School lies just outside Ubud and is one of the most fascinating schools I’ve ever come across. People move from all over the world to send their children there, and it maintains high academic standards while also focusing on sustainability and creativity within its curriculum. The school’s director, John Hardy, gave a Ted Talk, which explains its ethos and his motivation for creating it. It’s an inspiring story and one that helped confirm Ubud was a place that we wanted to explore. We couldn’t wait to take a look.
Join us for a tour of this beautiful school…
Green School tour
Our friend JanJan, who hosted us as couchsurfers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, moved to Ubud around the same time we did. Like many of the Green School teachers, she moved halfway across the world to work there.
JanJan teaches pre-kindergarten and is in love with the school’s style. She showed us around her classroom and the other kindergarten years…
…including their amazing pirate ship.
We also joined the official Green School tour which takes place every day. First stop was the auditorium where assemblies and drama productions take place. The entire school is made primarily from bamboo, a material that was chosen because it’s indigenous to the area and grows at an impressive speed. John Hardy’s daughter, Laura, heads the design team.
In keeping with the school’s commitment to sustainability, there’s a bird conservation centre on the grounds.
This man told us how eight years ago, there were only six Bali Starlings left. With the centre’s help, the numbers are slowly rising. They also care for other rescued birds like this African Grey.
Our next stop on the tour was the river and its striking bridge.
It’s an impressive piece of architecture,
…especially the sloped roof.
Alongside the river is a natural swimming pool for the kids to play in. There’s also a hydroelectric power plant being built downstream, which uses innovative technology to harnesses the power of a water vortex instead of needing a wheel. Once finished, this will power 100 per cent of the school’s energy needs.
Currently solar panels provide 70 per cent.
Next to the river lies the school’s vegetable gardens where the children learn to grow their own produce.
We visited on the last day of term when all the kids had already left, but it’s possible to do a tour when they’re there to get a better idea of the school in action. All the classrooms are open air, fulfilling John Hardy’s desire for a “school without walls”.
When it gets too hot, the designers came up with an ingenious plan. It’s called a classroom bubble and inflates over the space above, creating an area that can be air conditioned (you can see a demo on Hardy’s Ted Talk).
Our guide told us that being in nature enriches the children’s learning. Instead of being a distraction, the constant connection to the environment has a positive effect on problem solving and intelligence.
The final stop on our tour was the most impressive of the school’s buildings. In the school I grew up in, it would have been known as the Main School. Here, they call it the Heart of School.
Downstairs is where the students come to eat. It’s also home to the older years’ computer labs.
Three stories high with a spiral roof, it’s a breathtaking sight.
The second and third floors are where the school admin takes place.
There was a also a small exhibition,
….and a forest of bamboo stalks to wade through. If you donate to the school, you can have your name engraved on any piece of bamboo throughout the grounds. Funds go towards the school itself, as well as its scholarship program, which offers schooling to local children.
So there you have it, the Green School.
In Steve’s words: “I wish I was a child so I could go there!”
What do you think? Would you move to Bali to send your kids there?
Useful info on Green School
The Green School teaches kids from pre-kindergarten up to Grade 12 (ages 3-19) . Tuition costs from $6,280 - $13,630 per year. It is about half an hour outside Ubud. There is a scholarship program for local children. More info can be found on the Green School website.