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Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge (IMELC)

Coordinating Organisations Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), Johor State Education Department (JPNJ), Malaysia
Organisers/Type of Organisation UTM – University, IRDA – local government, JPNJ – state government
Initiative Type Teacher training, environmental literacy, science literacy, competition
Field of Science Involved Climate change, Low Carbon Society (LCS)
Target Audience(s) Primary schools (teachers and pupils), parents, public community
Reach Regional (Johor state)

Main Objectives

  1. To foster LCS awareness among primary students, teachers and their families (public community) through school education, in the Johor state;
  2. To disseminate knowledge, awareness and practice of LCS among Johor community through primary students and teachers;
  3. To reduce carbon emission in Johor through awareness and education;
  4. To create a Low Carbon Society for Iskandar Malaysia by the year 2025.

Description of work

Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge (IMELC) is a student learning activity focussed on Low Carbon Society (LCS), conducted as formal or informal education in and around the school setting. It can also be performed as a supplementary learning activity or inter-school competition. IMELC started in 2013 by engaging 23 primary schools and by the end of 2017, its 5th year of existence, had reached a total of 346, involving over 34,000 Year 6 (12 year-old) students in Johor.

IMELC is divided into three phases:

  1. The first phase is to train the primary teachers who are appointed as the teachers in-charge of IMELC. The state government (JPNJ) has instructed all Head Masters to appoint 1-2 teachers as IMELC coordinator(s) for each school. The Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has trained the teachers by giving them knowledge and awareness on LCS, and on how to use a workbook designed by UTM to educate the students. The IMELC workbook is distributed at the end of the training to all the teachers based on the number of Year 6 students of their school. This first phase usually takes half a day.
  2. The second phase is to conduct three modules of IMELC in the schools, with the support of the trained teachers. For the first module the students, in a group of 5 (preferably with diverse ethnicity), have to complete the workbook. This step usually takes a month. The workbook includes information on climate change and LCS, self-check survey on LCS practices, a series of eco-household accounting activities to look at their contribution of carbon emission from their home, a reflective report of each accounting activities and other learning activities that are related to both LCS and primary school Science and Mathematics curriculum. At the end, the schools collect the completed workbooks and submit them to UTM for evaluation. The second module is utilised by the school to run campaigns to try to reduce the use of electricity and water within the school. Each school has to submit their utility bills to UTM before and after IMELC participation to measure the success of their effort. The third module is also an instrument for the school to collect as many items for recycling as they can in a designated period. The original receipts of recycling sold to vendors have to be submitted as proof.

    All three modules are evaluated to determine the 15 best schools eligible to participate in the last phase of IMELC - the final presentation - where each school sends a group of students to present what they have learnt about LCS and what can they do to make Iskandar Malaysia a Low Carbon region. In the previous years, the winning groups have received an educational trip to Kyoto, Japan, where the idea of Ecolife Challenge started.


From the research conducted by UTM, the student surveys showed a consistent increase in the LCS practices for three consecutive years, with a positive trend each year (7.4% in 2013; 8.2% in 2014; 12.4% in 2015) This confirms that the Ecolife Challenge has, over time, improved students’ awareness and practice in LCS.  The teachers have also benefitted from an improvement in their knowledge, awareness and practice on LCS, as measured before and after the training.
For IMELC 2016, 83 schools submitted their electricity bills, 94 schools submitted their water bills and 77 schools submitted the recycling receipts for the school project competition. The total carbon reduction by the participating schools in IMELC 2016 was 290,219.3 Kg of CO2. If the pattern is replicated in all the 231 schools, in one year, 5,132,693.49 Kg of CO2 can be reduced.

A total of RM (Malaysian ringgit) 42,386.31 ($10,100) worth of electricity was saved and earned by the participating schools during IMELC 2016. If the pattern is replicated in all the 231 schools, in one year, RM (Malaysian ringgit) 1,006,362.90 ($239,800) can be collected and gained. Each school can therefore save and earn an average of RM (Malaysian ringgit) 4,356.55 ($1,038) in one year through the IMELC programme.
Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge was awarded as a flagship project for Climate Change by United Nations University - Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-AS).


Various funding resources have been used between 2013 until 2017:

Resources used or generated

Contact Details
Principal contact Assoc. Prof. Dr. Fatin Aliah Phang
Principal Researcher: Aline Rosset, University of Central Asia
Address Centre for Engineering Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
e-mail [email protected], [email protected]
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