QF schools aims to cultivate a sustainable mindset among students
Qatar Academy Doha Primary and Qatar Leadership Academy have been awarded the Eco-Schools Green Flag by Qatar Green Building Council – making them the first Qatar Foundation schools to be recognized by the initiative.
As part of the Eco-School program, schools are required to complete seven steps before applying for the award, which include: Form an Eco Committee; Carry out a Sustainability Audit; Action Plan; Monitor and Evaluate; Curriculum Work; Inform and Involve; and Produce an Eco Code.
Elizabeth Kennedy, Well-being Facilitator at Qatar Academy Doha (QAD) Primary – which is part of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Pe-University Education (PUE) – said: “We took a holistic and heartful approach to what it really meant to be an eco-school, and that came right down to our mission and vision – to really understand who we are and what we do.”
QAD Primary’s tagline is “cultivating a sustainable mindset”, as, according to Mrs. Kennedy, changing outlooks and attitudes is vital in order to create impactful change – and to drive long-lasting change within the school’s community.
“Activities are locked in time and space,” she explained. “Day-to-day living is where we will have sustained change. And that is what we are really focused on. Yes, we have activities at school, and yes, we participate in Qatar Sustainability Week and Earth Day. But, for us, changing mindsets and cultivating a lifestyle approach is where we have had the biggest impact.”
An important component of the award for QAD Primary is empowering teachers to empower students, and this includes student leadership. Featuring four branches – Student Council, House Captains, Eco-Warriors, and Activists in Action – the system has sustainability weaved into its fabric.
These children can lead today, if we empower their voice and allow them the agency to share their passion and foster that growth
“These children can lead today, if we empower their voice and allow them the agency to share their passion and foster that growth,” said Mrs. Kennedy. “We are not looking at them simply as being future leaders of Qatar; they are leaders right now.
“They have a voice, and they have a passion. Our job as educators is to foster that, and make sure that these rich opportunities are available for the children.”
The award is a two-year process, and while COVID-19 has created challenges, it has forced the children to become more creative, which has led to even more collaborative opportunities.
This accreditation is not the end. It is celebration. It’s exciting to get our green flag, which we wave with pride. But the mission continues…
“Online meetings have become a regular occurrence,” said Mrs. Kennedy. “The children are learning how to use Canva and different animators to make online content for their social media pages – they have become very skilled in this area. They’ve done online interviews with Greener Future, and they have also carried out beach clean-ups with Doha Environmental Actions Project.
“Even with the increased use of plastic, the children have stayed firm to their passion and belief, and I am unbelievably proud of them.”
We are proud to receive the Eco-School Green Flag from Qatar Green Building Council
All QF schools are undergoing the process of Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation, and are on course to achieve this by 2022. As one of the first QF schools to receive the award, Mrs. Kennedy says it serves as an opportunity to help other schools within the PUE ecosystem: “We are so proud of our students and our parent community – and all the support that they’ve given us. We need to work together as sister schools, to inspire each other.
“This accreditation is not the end. It is celebration. It’s exciting to get our green flag, which we wave with pride. But the mission continues – this award is a stepping stone, and that’s something that we’ve been very clear with the children. It is an amazing accomplishment, but now we are pushing further.
We are proud to see QAD Primary and Qatar Leadership Academy receive their first Green Flags and join the global network of more than 50,000 schools
“We have to grow as a school, to nurture opportunities, to dig deeper and demonstrate greater understanding and connection with the environment. This isn’t an end point, there is still a lot we want to accomplish.”
Jameel Al-Shammari, Director, QLA, said: “We are proud to receive the Eco-School Green Flag from Qatar Green Building Council.
“It is the result of a lot of hard work from our students and teachers, who are striving to highlight the importance of environmental sustainability and water conservation, as well as mitigate climate change. To achieve this, we have embedded these principles within all our programs across the curriculum at Qatar Leadership Academy.”
Ruba Hinnawi, QGBC’s Technical Specialist and the lead on the Eco-School Program, said: “We are proud to see QAD Primary and Qatar Leadership Academy receive their first Green Flags and join the global network of more than 50,000 schools. It is wonderful to see young people engage and participate in protecting their environment and empowering climate action. We look forward to seeing all other PUE schools follow suit and celebrate this memorable achievement.”
The Activists in Action campaign launched by QAD Primary students is raising awareness about the environmental impact of single-use plastic bags, and aims to collect 10,000 signatures on a petition calling for such bags to be banned in Qatar, which will then be presented to Qatar’s leadership. It has already been signed by more than 7,300 people, and you can add your signature here.