“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.”
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
Principal Rajagiri Public School Doha