Schools adopt sustainable education programmes

Green living is now finding its way into curricula. We chat with the experts about this new trend

Schools adopt sustainable education programmes
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Trees, turtles and recycling – what could these words possibly have to do with schools? According to educators, quite a lot. UAE institutions are headed towards more sustainable models of education, teaching kids to be responsible in their approach and lifestyle, but what does that mean in the real world, away from textbooks and jargon?

“The beauty of education comes from our students finding an appreciation of the resilience and fragility of nature, and the dependence of human life on the resources available on our planet. There has never been a more suitable time in which to introduce our students and the younger generation to the importance of sustaining the planet’s natural resources,” says Ron Hodkinson, principal at Ontario International School Dubai.

“Steps are being taken across the globe to address this pressing issue, and through introducing young minds to such concepts, we aim to ensure that these efforts are continued well into the future,” he adds.

For Hodkinson, a prime example of this leadership in sustainability comes in the form of student-led projects by Intermediate students. “Their challenge was to save water within the school environment. Students not only developed methods through which this could successfully be accomplished, but put their plans into action and were able to see the results firsthand,” says the principal.

The ingenious method utilised was simple, but highly efficient. It involved students placing a brick inside the water tanks of the school’s washrooms. By displacing water levels, they were able to lower the DEWA bill by 18 percent.

For Alana Sorokin, founder of “green” kidswear brand Joseph & Alexander, educating the next generation and raising awareness about issues that are plaguing the environment is essential. “Now, more than ever, parents must share their learning with their kids, as plastic not only harms our ecosystem, but humans as well.”

Joseph & Alexander uses recycled fabrics derived from ocean plastics to manufacture all of their designs, an initiative that’s supported by awareness campaigns and events for families in the UAE.

“Making changes in your household is the first step. With kids, it can be a little tricky, so my advice is to have them be a part of the change process. For example, have them help with sorting out the recycling or removing the plastic cap from bottles to reuse. You can also create fun, sustainable activities at home. There are so many creative games you can come up with,” says Sorokin.

“I’ve found that there are tons DIY ideas, from garden decorations to handy household storage items. Explore arts and crafts with your kids by searching for some and you’ll find plenty of inspiration,” she adds.

While both educators and supporters of the cause believe in instiling a love for the environment within kids, they also urge parents to see it as a natural progression of older educational methods, which seem to have evolved and culminated into what’s being taught in schools today.

“Real-world scenarios combine classroom learning with experiential learning, and provide opportunities for kids to interact with, care about and take action in places where they live, study and play. They provide vital connections between the curriculum and the world around us,” says Hodkinson.

“By allowing students to directly observe the impact and issues faced by the population on a daily basis, we expose them to the many points of view that must be considered when making choices to preserve the health of the natural environment,” he adds.

Let’s go green, Mums and Dads.
Ontario International School Dubai, Uptown Mirdiff, Dubai (04 255 9880). For more on Joseph & Alexander, josephandalexander.com.

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