Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge


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Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge (IMELC) is a student learning activity on Low Carbon Society (LCS) that is conducted as formal or informal education at school setting. It can also be conducted as a supplementary learning activity or inter-school competition. IMLEC is jointly organized by Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Johor (JPNJ), and supported by other partners such as SWM Environment Sdn Bhd, Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) Malaysia, Medini Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and others over the years.

IMELC aims to create awareness of Low Carbon Society (LCS) among students, teachers and their families in achieving the target of carbon reduction for Iskandar Malaysia by year 2025 as outlined in the Low Carbon Society Blueprint for Iskandar Malaysia 2025, which was endorsed by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and presented at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) the 18th session of Conference of Parties (COP 18) in 2012. The objectives of IMELC, specifically are:

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

The first phase is to train the primary teachers who are appointed as the teachers in-charge of IMELC. JPNJ has instructed all Head Masters to appoint 1 to 2 teachers as the IMELC coordinator for each school. UTM trained the teachers by giving them the knowledge and awareness on LCS, and how to use a workbook designed by UTM to educate the students. The IMELC workbook will be distributed at the end of the training to all the teachers based on the number of Year 6 students of their school. This usually takes half a day.

The second phase is to conduct 3 modules of IMELC at the schools to be led by the teachers. The first module is to complete the workbook by the students in a group of 5, preferably a group with diverse ethnicity. This 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, reflective report of each accounting activities and other learning activities that are related to both LCS and primary school Science and Mathematics curriculum. The schools will collect the completed workbooks to be submitted to UTM for evaluation.

The second module is for the school to run campaigns to try and reduce the use of electricity and water of the school. Each school must submit the utility bills to UTM before and after IMELC to measure the success of their effort. The third module is for the school to collect as much recycle items as they can in a certain designated period. The original receipts of recycling sold to vendors must be submitted as proofs.

All three modules will be evaluated to determine the 15 best schools that are eligible to participate in the last phase of IMELC which is the final presentation. A school will send a group of students to present what they have learned about LCS and what can they do to make Iskandar Malaysia a Low Carbon region.

Strategically, IMELC aims at achieving the following Sustainable Development Goals:

4 – Quality Education Image result for sdg 4

13 – Climate Action

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Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge (IMELC) started in 2013 as part of a research project under the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The main partners of this project are UTM, IRDA, Kyoto University, Okayama University and National Institute of Environmental Studies (NIES) Japan.

In 2012, a technical trip led by Dr. Fatin Aliah Phang visited a few cities in Japan to learn the best practices of LCS education. One of the examples learnt is the Kyoto Children Ecolife Challenge conducted by the KIKO Network. In the Kyoto version, primary 4 students were given a workbook to learn about climate change which was taught by volunteers from KIKO Network. The students then complete the workbook during the school holiday over a month. The workbook is submitted to KIKO Network and only the self-check is keyed-in to produce a report of the students’ ecolife before and after the workbook completion. The report is given to the students during the second visit of the volunteers to conduct a reflective lesson.

Due to the different culture, Dr. Fatin and her team took the idea of the project to re-design totally of an educational program for Iskandar Malaysia. It was named Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge. The workbook is completed re-designed by UTM by mapping to the school curriculum and is re-aligned with LCS concepts. Teacher training is included so that teachers can conduct IMELC at schools, not volunteers. IMELC is conducted after UPSR, not during school holiday. The whole workbook is marked and report is produced. IMELC is not just an educational program but a competition to give motivation to schools to conduct the program. Additional projects such as reducing water and electricity bills of the schools, and collect recycling are included in IMELC.

The first IMELC was conducted in 2013 to 23 pilot schools (3,790 students), and then expanded a year later to 80 schools (15,623 students). In 2015, IMELC was implemented in all 228 primary schools within Iskandar Malaysia (27,628 students) and 2016 to 231 schools (27,125 students). In 2017, IMELC was expanded beyond Iskandar Malaysia by including the PAK 21 (Pendidikan Abad Ke 21) schools. This brings the total number of schools to 345 schools (34,000 students). In 2018, IMELC continues to cover 403 schools (approx. 40,000 students) and in 2019, 475 schools (approx. 45,000 students).



UTM collects, marks and keys in all the data for research and analysis. From the research conducted by UTM, the student surveys showed a consistent increase in their LCS practices for 3 consecutive years. There is an increase of 12.4% in the low carbon practice before and after the competition in 2015 and the pattern persists since 2015 to 2018. This is higher than 2014, which was 8.2% and 2013 which was 7.4%. This shows that Ecolife Challenge has improved every year, increasing students’ awareness and practice in LCS. Interestingly, all of them have the similar starting mean value of practice before the competition, which are: 2.44 (2013); 2.49 (2014); 2.42 (2015). This shows that the survey instrument is reliable over different cohorts of Year 6 students in Iskandar Malaysia. It also shows that the Ecolife Challenge is capable to increase their awareness and practice in LCS. The teachers also showed improvements in their knowledge, awareness and practice on LCS before and after the training.

From the utility bills collected from schools, on average, each school can save about 400kWh of electricity and about 20m³ of water in a month. Cumulatively, IMELC has helped schools to save RM400,000 and reduce 520,000 kgCO2 in the school project to reduce the use of water and electricity. In the category of recycling, IMELC has helped schools to collect 700,000 kg of recycling since its inception and generate about RM200,000 of income to schools in selling recycling. This can be translated into 2 million kgCO2. In total, through IMELC, at least 2.5 million kgCO2 has been reduced and RM600,000 has been saved and generated.



For further reports of the IMELC, please follow the articles below:

Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge: Low carbon education for teachers and students

Sustainable Impact of Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge (IMELC) on the Low Carbon Awareness and Practice among Students

Fostering Higher Order Thinking Skills among Primary Students through Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge

Achieving Low Carbon Society through Primary School Ecolife Challenge in Iskandar Malaysia

Low carbon awareness among primary school students through Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge Competition

A Successful Model to Inculcate Low Carbon Awareness among School Students and Teachers

Iskandar Malaysia Ecolife Challenge – In “Rising to the Challenge: Malaysia’s Contributions to the SDGs



Over the years, IMELC has been given awards at national and international level as an innovative solution towards climate change education. Below are a list of recognition:

  1. Okayama ESD Award (Global Prize) 2018 by the Okayama City 
  2. RCE Global Award 2015 – Most Outstanding Flagship Project (Climate Change) by United Nations University (UNU)
  3. National Intellectual Property Award 2018 (Anugerah Harta Intelek Negara) – Copyright Category (Gold Award) by Intellectual Property Malaysian (MyIPO) for the IMELC workbook designed by UTM
  4. Medal of Creativity 2018 by World Intellectual Propery Organization (WIPO) for the IMELC workbook designed by UTM
  5. International Invention and Innovation Exhibition 2017 (ITEX) – Silver medal
  6. Industrial Art & Technology Exhibition 2016 (INATEX) – Silver medal
  7. International Conference and Exposition on Inventions by Institutions of Higher Learning 2017 (PECIPTA) – Bronze medal

In Media

Facebook Page RCE Iskandar

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The Star

Sin Chew Daily


Johor Kini

Team Members from UTM

  1. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Fatin Aliah Phang
  2. Prof. Dr. Ho Chin Siong
  3. Dr. Jaysuman Pusppanathan
  4. Dr. Nina Diana Nawi
  5. Dr. Mahyuddin Arsat
  6. Dr. Nor Farahwahidah Abd Rahman


IMELC 2019

IMELC 2018

IMELC 2017

IMELC 2016

IMELC 2015

IMELC 2014

IMELC 2013