“CATCH ‘EM YOUNG”

Good habits need to be in­cul­cated in chil­dren at an early stage of their lives in or­der to make them “agents of change.”

Qatar Today - - CONTENTS -

Good habits need to be in­cul­cated in chil­dren in the early stage of their lives in or­der to make them “agents of change” in in­flu­enc­ing their friends and fam­ily mem­bers in fu­ture.

Aware of the need to teach en­ergy, sav­ing prac­tices among stu­dents, Ra­ja­giri Public School Doha, which was es­tab­lished in Septem­ber 2014, started ad­vo­cat­ing the benefits of sav­ing wa­ter and elec­tric­ity as part of the Green Pro­gramme for Schools (GPS), a unique ini­tia­tive launched by Qatar To­day three years ago.

The school, which has only a pri­mary sec­tion (up to class V) with around 800 stu­dents, has dis­played stick­ers and posters at wa­ter taps and elec­tric switches fre­quented by the stu­dents to ex­plain how to con­serve wa­ter and elec­tric­ity. In their in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­ity, a small con­tri­bu­tion from the stu­dents will lead to more inspiring changes in the com­ing years.

Peter Ku­bicki, Head of the sec­ondary school at Al Jazeera Academy, is filled with op­ti­mism about the GPS pro­gramme. “Our im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment is of enor­mous im­por­tance both from a moral and spir­i­tual point of a view. I'm a fa­ther and th­ese mat­ters con­cern me as a par­ent and teacher. The chil­dren in this school are our re­spon­si­bil­ity. We have a duty to­ward ed­u­cat­ing them about their fu­ture,” he says. “But I don't think it stops there. We have a long way to go.” Many of the stu­dents in Al Jazeera Academy are of Qatari ori­gin. With the world's fo­cus on Qatar as it makes huge strides in­ter­na­tion­ally, Ku­bicki feels it is per­ti­nent to im­part the right val­ues. “If we have a school that is lit­tered and un­clean, the stu­dents are not go­ing to learn much. We need to start with lit­tle things,” he says.

Sug­ges­tion boxes have been placed around the Ra­ja­giri cam­pus to re­ceive in­no­va­tive ideas from the stu­dents. “We have to do some­thing at the school level to make them aware of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, es­pe­cially in sav­ing wa­ter and elec­tric­ity for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity in which they live and also the world at large,” says Isaac Tharayil, Prin­ci­pal of Ra­ja­giri Public School Doha.

The school has al­ready set up a com­mit­tee and started in­volv­ing the stu­dents in im­ple­ment­ing GPS a few weeks ago. Be­ing part of GPS, the younger gen­er­a­tion will know about the im­pend­ing dan­gers to Mother Na­ture and hence school man­age­ments, along with teach­ers and stu­dents, could work to­gether in spread­ing the mes­sage.

The pas­sion ig­nited and the at­ti­tudes ac­quired to­wards en­ergy con­ser­va­tion by tak­ing part in GPS will make them be­come re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens as well as lead­ers in cham­pi­oning green ef­forts, which are in line with the ob­jec­tives of Qatar Na­tional Devel­op­ment Strat­egy 2016 and Qatar

“The pas­sion ig­nited and the at­ti­tudes ac­quired to­wards en­ergy con­ser­va­tion among the stu­dents by tak­ing part in GPS will make them re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zens as well as lead­ers in cham­pi­oning green ef­forts, which are in line with the ob­jec­tives of Qatar Na­tional Devel­op­ment Strat­egy 2016 and Qatar Na­tional Vi­sion 2030.”

Na­tional Vi­sion 2030.

Tharayil, who worked in Canada for two years be­fore tak­ing up the present as­sign­ment in Qatar, says that though Canada has abun­dant wa­ter, the gov­ern­ment and peo­ple are aware of wa­ter and elec­tric­ity con­ser­va­tion and the used wa­ter is re­cy­cled sev­eral times.

Ku­bicki is aware that this is a sub­ject that needs to be de­liv­ered in an in­ter­est­ing man­ner. “With so­cial me­dia and the vast in­ter­net there are so many in­ter­ests for young peo­ple which de­mand their at­ten­tion. It isn't easy to en­gage the youth for the long haul. I don't be­lieve that lec­tur­ing them is the an­swer,” he says. With any stu­dent learn­ing, it's im­por­tant to get stu­dents to ar­tic­u­late their thoughts. “They must ac­tively par­tic­i­pate and de­bate and take prac­ti­cal ac­tion. That's far bet­ter than lec­tur­ing them on the benefits of safe­guard­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.”

As for sus­tain­abil­ity, the sec­ondary teacher be­lieves we can all do our part. “If you go to the su­per­mar­ket to buy a few items and you get 25 carry bags. Surely we can re­duce con­sump­tion. Th­ese are things that haven't yet been em­bed­ded in the mind­set here. We need to de­velop th­ese ideas fur­ther.”

He adds, “Young peo­ple are gen­uinely con­cerned about re­cy­cling, sus­tain­abil­ity and con­ser­va­tion and wildlife. There is cer­tainly a lot more hap­pen­ing now than when I was a boy.” The school has al­ready be­gun dis­cussing green is­sues. “There are many sub­jects that lend them­selves to the sub­ject of the en­vi­ron­ment. Science has a strong fo­cus on this and stu­dents can de­bate is­sues in English. We have a strong stu­dent coun­cil which gives stu­dents a voice. The stu­dents are very aware about the po­lar ice caps and all the other is­sues that are be­ing dis­cussed on a global level,” says Ku­bicki.

He pre­vi­ously taught at a school in Eng­land for 13 years and says “I've seen how stu­dents get in­volved in rain wa­ter har­vest­ing and other per­ti­nent is­sues. We had stu­dents mea­sur­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency to dis­cover how much we are us­ing elec­tric­ity. I'd like to see peo­ple get in­volved in th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties here as well. Its very im­por­tant learn­ing for the fu­ture.”

Stu­dents of Al Jazeera Academy (left) and Ra­ja­giri Public School help with putting up en­vi­ron­ment-con­scious mes­sages around their schools.

Head of the sec­ondary school Al Jazeera Academy

PETER KU­BICKI

ISAAC THARAYIL

Prin­ci­pal Ra­ja­giri Public School Doha

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