Youths take cen­tre stage for this year’s awards

Global High Schools a key driver in ed­u­cat­ing the next gen­er­a­tion

The National - News - - BUSINESS -

THE ZAYED SUS­TAIN­ABIL­ITY Prize has funded projects around the world for more than a decade, bring­ing re­new­able en­ergy to ru­ral ar­eas while pro­vid­ing jobs and cre­at­ing mi­cro-economies.

Last year, the prize an­nounced a re­fo­cus that recog­nised the need for new cat­e­gories to be added, to chal­lenge sus­tain­able so­lu­tions across sev­eral sec­tors.

One of the ma­jor changes for this year’s award of the re­named prize is the new cat­e­gory for Global High School.

The award chal­lenges young peo­ple to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for de­vel­op­ing new green com­mu­nity projects at their schools and in­spire sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties to take up sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives.

The 2018-19 awards cy­cle at­tracted a record 2,101 en­tries from 130 coun­tries in health, food, en­ergy and wa­ter.

In the his­tory of the prize, the UAE has pro­vided four Global High School fi­nal­ists and one win­ner.

Muntinlupa Na­tional High School in the Philip­pines has more than 10,000 pupils and about 400 teach­ers. The school’s sub­mis­sion is geared to­wards pro­vid­ing af­ford­able en­ergy by con­vert­ing mi­cro-al­gae to biodiesel, which can be used as a green al­ter­na­tive to fos­sil fu­els.

Al­gae ab­sorbs up to 18,000 tonnes of car­bon diox­ide an acre a year, so it also acts as an ef­fec­tive way to re­duce car­bon emis­sions. The project hopes to pro­vide a source of in­come to com­mu­ni­ties, who can sell cul­ti­vated al­gae and re­lated prod­ucts.

The Amer­i­can School of Dubai has 500 pupils, and was es­tab­lished in 1966 by the Dubai Pe­tro­leum Com­pany to ed­u­cate the chil­dren of ex­pa­tri­ate work­ers from the US.

The school is an­other fi­nal­ist in the GHS cat­e­gory, and has in­tro­duced an in­dus­trial com­poster, us­ing food and land­scap­ing waste and a bee­hive on cam­pus.

“Our work is in­creas­ingly based on the no­tion that sus­tain­abil­ity is not sep­a­rate from other as­pects of life and learn­ing,” a school spokesman said.

“It is a cru­cial com­po­nent that al­lows our com­mu­nity to recog­nise the im­por­tance of the con­nec­tions be­tween eco­nomic, so­cial, and en­vi­ron­men­tal com­po­nents of what we do in the wider world.

“Our stu­dents have been in­te­gral in elim­i­nat­ing plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles from our cam­pus, cre­at­ing a sus­tain­abil­ity mis­sion state­ment and es­tab­lish­ing best prac­tices for sus­tain­abil­ity.”

An­other GHS fi­nal­ist is the Stu­dents’ Ed­u­ca­tional and Cul­tural Move­ment of Ladakh, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion in Jammu and Kash­mir, In­dia.

Since 1988, gov­ern­ment re­forms have im­proved the school’s pass rate in the 10th grade from 5 per cent to 75 per cent. The cam­pus aims to be self-sus­tain­able by us­ing so­lar en­ergy and so­lar pan­els.

It has its own gar­den, so­lar cook­ers and heaters, and all build­ings are so­lar-heated, re­duc­ing the use of fuel to heat rooms in win­ter when tem­per­a­tures reg­u­larly drop below freez­ing.

The kitchen is 33 per cent self-suf­fi­cient through its gar­dens but the tar­get is to in­crease that to 90 per cent.

An­other fi­nal­ist, Ong’ata Bar­rikoi, is a school in the heart of the Maa­sai Mara in Kenya, one of East Africa’s great­est game re­serves.

The school is for young adults from five tribes – Kip­sigis, Maa­sai, Kuria, Kisii and Luo.

Like most of the schools, Ong’ata Bar­rikoi is ad­dress­ing key sus­tain­abil­ity goals laid down by the UN.

Pupils and teach­ers there have de­vel­oped per­ma­cul­ture gar­dens and a food pro­gramme to ad­dress mal­nour­ish­ment among chil­dren in the area.

Rain­wa­ter col­lec­tion sys­tems and grey­wa­ter re­cy­cling has placed less pres­sure on the need for river wa­ter, and so­lar pan­els power girls and boys school build­ings.

A school in Brazil has sim­i­lar am­bi­tions to be­come self-suf­fi­cient and re­duce its de­mand for power from the na­tional grid.

The Cen­tro Ed­u­ca­cional Agrour­bano in the Distrito Fed­eral area of cen­tral Brazil hopes to be­come the first com­pletely sus­tain­able school in the coun­try, and a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for oth­ers to fol­low.

“One of the main chal­lenges we ex­pect to over­come lies in fi­nanc­ing,” the school said.

“This has been a key is­sue over the past few years be­cause as it stands, our project is lim­ited in scope and scale by the costs in es­tab­lish­ing it.

“An­other sub­stan­tial chal­lenge we wish to see solved is the im­por­tance of ded­i­cated en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion in our coun­try, prov­ing that it is not only im­por­tant for the coun­try to recog­nise the rel­e­vance of the en­vi­ron­men­tal ques­tions but also to em­body this mind­set with fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

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