This UAE school is a role model for 46 UK schools

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on November 13, 2019 | Last updated on November 13, 2019 at 06.41 am
UAE school, role model, 46 UK schools, world’s first UN climate change-certified school, Dubai, Kindergarten Starters School
THE GREEN SONG: KGS students perform the Earth Song during the climate change conference at their school.

The school has launched committees along with parents that collaborate and conduct awareness activities.

After earning its title as the world's first UN climate change-certified school with all of its 300 teachers and over 60 parents becoming UN-recognised climate change teachers, Dubai-based Kindergarten Starters School (KGS) has inspired 46 schools in the UK to follow suit.

On Tuesday, a delegation from Hammersmith and Fulham Borough in the UK comprising school heads, teachers, journalists and activists visited the school to witness how the school has integrated climate literacy in its curriculum to an exceptionally high level.  

Addressing a climate change conference held at the school, principal and CEO of KGS, Asha Alexander, who is the first UN-accredited climate change principal in the UAE, said: "The UAE has always exemplified its commitment and caring for the environment through a number of green initiatives under its visionary leadership. A fundamental societal change is now needed and that lies in the hands of educators and this is what Gems Education is spearheading here in this region."

"What is required is organic growth of like-minded people who can change the world, and this is what led KGS to bring UN-certified teachers to every classroom in order for students and parents to understand climate change, so they can make informed and responsible decisions," she said.

"We at KGS are committed to planting 15,000 trees every year and we have already accomplished this target within two months through a campaign called Plant A Legacy (PAL). The aim of such efforts is to understand our connection with our planet and cultivate climate literate individuals who are capable of understanding, communicating and making informed decisions about climate and its impact. This is where UN-certified courses enabled us to place content that is well-researched and accurate in front of our children," she added.

The conference was also attended by Dr Abdulla Al Karam, chairman of the board of directors and director-General of the KHDA; Dino Varkey, CEO, Gems Education; and Melanie Harwood, co-founder of ecuCCate Global project that introduced the UN-accredited climate change course online last year.

The conference kicked off with the students from KG to grade 5 enthralling the audience with a soul-stirring rendition of Michal Jackson's Earth Song. They were all dressed in green T-shirts.

A number of students also voiced their concern about climate change and its importance. A grade five student said: "There is a fear in my mind that my generation may not have a home when we grow up. And by home I don't mean a home built with brick or mud but a place to stand on, our planet. Pollution and burning of fossil fuel has made our planet sick and the tireless efforts of our teachers have given us a ray of hope for a better future. I feel if one school can pledge 15,000 plants then why can't others. It is a duty of every human being to save this planet from its impending doom."

Talking about how KGS participation inspired UK schools to take up climate change courses, Melanie Harwood said: "After speaking to 30 UN agencies we decided to upscale teachers skills and make them specialist. We took five courses from the One United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership (UN CC:Learn) and converted them to climate change future course. We launched these courses at Cop 24 UN climate Change conference in December 2018 and were mandated to get 80 schools from the UK enrolled into this but to our surprise it soon spread across the world, with Dubai-based KGS being the frontrunner with its full staff as well as some parents having completed all the modules of the course. Soon after we were contacted by leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Sovereign Borough Council who said we want to do what this UAE school is doing too and this set the ball rolling."

Lauding the school's effort, Dr Abdulla Al Karam said: "We wish that all schools of the country can follow the example of KGS and introduce climate change teachers in every classroom."

The school has launched seven committees along with parents that collaborate and conduct awareness activities, roadshows where KGS students explain the ill-effects of plastic use to public and corporates. The school has also placed water-saving aerators on school taps that has reduced water flow by 75 per cent and managed to conserve 565,000 litres of water in the last few months.

The school has introduced climate change lessons of around 40 minutes a day where children are shown real life natural catastrophe situations such as the Amazon fires, the melting glaciers. Different teachers give students different thinking routines where the students are made to analyse the problem, the reasons behind it and then come up with causes and solutions. Students can express their ideas by writing, drawing or verbally expressing their views. The school has also placed compost machines and has placed segregated wet waste and dry waste trash bins.

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