Sustainability on platter: Dubai school spearheads e-course



Dubai - Around 1,000 teachers, students and parents of GEMS The Kindergarten Starters have already been trained under this programme.

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sat 12 Dec 2020, 6:47 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Dec 2020, 6:48 PM

Your platter decides not just your future health, but that of the earth too.

A Dubai school is spearheading an ecological food revolution with many pledging to be a part of a Sustainable Diet e-course aimed at not just taking action against climate change but bolstering a healthy lifestyle as well.

Around 1,000 teachers, students and parents of GEMS The Kindergarten Starters have already been trained under this programme that enables sustainable food systems.

It has also connected with 15 other schools from nine countries, including Oman, UAE, India, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Uganda, Kenya, the US and Australia, who will undertake the course and then work with students to practice a sustainable diet by monitoring the carbon footprint of what they consume.

Asha Alexander, principal at GEMS The Kindergarten Starters, who is also the executive leader for Climate change for Gems Education, emphasised that the programme will have an impact if students and parents truly understand the issues from a personal viewpoint and are able to look for possible solutions within their school and local communities.

She pointed out: “Children would not only understand the importance of eating a well-balanced nutritional meal but also be able to understand the impact that our food choices have on our environment. What's more, we wanted to take this very important learning to schools worldwide as the growing obesity and juvenile diabetes is a concern for parents and educators all over the globe.”

While staying fit through exercise and movement is imperative, educationists feel they also need to be made aware of what they take in in terms of nutrition.

She added: “Given the fact that the fast food culture is here to stay, the only way we can make students eat a nutritional and sustainable diet is by teaching them to exercise choice when it comes to what they put on their plates. I am beginning to see that entire families in our school have changed their diets as they have been influenced by the students and the courses they are doing.”

The Sustainable Diet e-course comprises seven videos, factsheets and activities. Topics related to food choice, better farming, buying food locally, reading labels, are high on the agenda.

The self-paced course is followed by a quiz in each segment and a sustainable food pledge. On successful completion candidates will receive a UNCC (UN Climate Change) certificate.

'I am a better, responsible eater now'

Namisri Baasim, a Grade 3 student who undertook the course, said: “It gave me a lot of information on what I eat. I have realised that what I eat is not just important for me but for my planet too. I have learnt that I have to be very careful with my food choices so that my environment does not suffer. I have become a better and responsible eater now!”

Muzammil Hussain, parent of Gul Hussain who is a Grade 5 student, stated, “We all have a very general perception on sustainable diet – food products that are healthy and do not have a negative impact on our environment. When I did the Sustainable Diet course by UNCC, I realised there is a lot more that needs to be considered. For instance, the carbon footprint. I now pledge that my family will prefer local produce.”

Eric Jaise of Grade 5 said: “After attending the UNCC course, I started to eat more locally produced food because they only have to be transported a short distance and they have a lower carbon footprint. Besides, the course affected my eating habit and made me reduce the consumption of goat and lamb meat since they consume more water when compared with other meat.”

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