Habitat School and the vegetable garden taking shape in its farm; and (below) the tomato and cauliflower farm at the group’s International Indian School Ajman. — Supplied photos
At a time when the UAE is pioneering sustainability efforts in the region, an education group here has jumped onto the green bandwagon, starting a new school aimed at instilling environmental awareness in young children.
Chaired by Shaikh Sultan bin Saqr Al Nuaimi, the Dh50-million Habitat School, with a green campus spanning 10 acres of land, started on Thursday in Ajman’s school zone with nearly 2,000 students from 15 nationalities.
The largest campus in the UAE, it will include a 50,000-square metre organic farm with a greenhouse where students will be introduced to various aspects of farming, Shaikh Sultan, who is also adviser to the undersecretary of the Minister of Economy in Ajman, told a Press conference called to announce the opening of the institution.
While students will take farming classes that are integrated within the curriculum, forest-like areas will introduce students to the benefits of medicinal plants. The school will also facilitate water and electricity conservation in compliance with the government’s move towards green buildings.
The produce from the organic garden will be sold by students at school fairs and the profits given to educational charities in India, school managing director CT Shamsu Zaman told Khaleej Times.
“The farming activity will immensely contribute to the overall development of the students as it will teach them the basic principles of honest trading and philanthropy and give them the fulfilment of being productive,” Zaman said.
Organic farming is not new to the group as students of its International Indian School in Ajman are already in the business of selling vegetables to parents.
Zaman said Habitat envisions to revolutionise the concept of schooling by imparting education in a natural environment fused with modern teaching methods and contemporary technology.
“Modern education is always accessible for the affluent, but remains a dream for common expatriates. Before the budget airlines came onto the scene, an expatriate typically travelled back home once in two years, whereas now he travels on cheap tickets for every occasion. Habitat aims to apply the same principles in the field of education — making premium education available to the ordinary,” Zaman explained.
He said admissions to the first phase of Habitat — from kindergarten to grade six following the CBSE curriculum — started two and a half months ago and has hit the 2,000-student mark.
While the present phase can take in 2,700 students, the second phase will take the capacity to 3,500 students by September 2014. Zaman said that by the next 2015-2016 academic year, the school will run at its full capacity of 6,000-plus students from kindergarten to Grade 12.
The school charges Dh500 per month for KG to Grade 2, Dh550 for Grade 3 to 5 and Dh600 for Grades 6 and 8, Zaman added.
According to Principal Jisha Jayan, while classes for Grades 1 to 8 started on April 17, KG 2 will open on May 1 and KG 1 on May 4.
Apart from the organic farm and green area, the school with 100,000-squre feet built-up area has state-of-the-art facilities for sports and extra curricular activities, including a mini-Olympic swimming pool, indoor football ground and a 100-metre synthetic track.
Zaman said the school will offer day-boarding for four days at a nominal fee of Dh250. Day-boarders will have a compulsory period of class revisions and an optional period of either indoor activity, including cultural and cyber lessons, or outdoor activity including athletics and swimming.
Habitat’s holistic approach to education will take care of students’ academic, cultural, psychological, social and health issues. Facility to study languages such as Arabic, Hindi, Malayalam, Bangla and Tamil will also take care of most expatriates’ requirements,” said academic director of the school C.T. Adil.
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