Qatar Academy Msheireb teacher raises awareness about sustainability so children can become changemakers
A Qatar Foundation school is teaching students aged six and seven the benefits of recycling, and the value of sustainability.
Even if the ideas seem simple and small, students begin to understand the concept of recycling, and in time will learn to do bigger things with recyclable materials
These students also get the chance to learn how to create art pieces using recycled materials. And these skills and values are not taught as part of extracurricular activities – instead, they are linked to the curriculum of the International Baccalaureate system that Qatar Academy Msheireb (QAM), part of Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education, follows.
“We use a variety of materials in our recycling activities,” said Amal El Hafy, who leads the Department of Arabic Language at QAM. “Out of plastic bottles, we make plastic plates, or picture frames with plastic spoons and forks. We even use milk cans to make toy cars or toy trains.
“We use the flip side of papers that have been printed only on one side to write on, and we create design pieces from leftover food packaging materials.”
Domestic Solid Waste is one of the major waste streams in Qatar, according to a study titled Sustainable solutions for domestic solid waste management in Qatar. This type of waste refers to unused and/or unwanted items that are thrown away and will no longer be used by households, schools, restaurants, and other public places, including food leftovers, plastic bags, plastic water bottles, cans, furniture, and packaging. This means learning to recycle this type of waste is vital.
Students in El Hafy’s class present recycling ideas that tackle this exact issue – playing with paper balls, or designing a robot, making paper cars, making boxes using flasks and lids, and other things that are made from various consumer residues in the home.
It is important for students to realize that recycling is not limited to a school activity, but rather a way of life
El Hafy says that even if the ideas seem simple and small, students begin to understand the concept of recycling, and in time will learn to do bigger things with recyclable materials. At the school, students are shown videos of real-life examples of how recycling can make a big impact. El Hafy also explained that the school supports students' creative ideas in waste recycling, such as upcycled water cans and old tires for growing potatoes and radishes in the school, and consequently encouraging a culture of recycling amongst its students.
“As individuals and educators, must first adopt a culture of reducing waste and consequently reducing the damage to the environment,” she says. “Through my journey in education, spanning more than two decades, I have seen it as my duty as a teacher to educate students on the importance of recycling.
One day, our students will become the leaders of the future, and our future will be in their hands, so we must spare the next generation from making the same mistakes we did, and educate them to build a better and more sustainable world for tomorrow
“Students in elementary school love to explore things around them, and they enjoy working with their friends on art made with recyclable material. This gives them a better understanding to process the information related to sustainability and environmental conservation as they use various sensory perceptions.”
As El Hafy says, it is important for students to realize that recycling is not limited to a school activity, but rather a way of life – so instilling a culture of recycling, rationalizing consumption, reducing wastage, and preserving the environment is crucial.
“One day, our students will become the leaders of the future, and our future will be in their hands, so we must spare the next generation from making the same mistakes we did, and educate them to build a better and more sustainable world for tomorrow,” El Hafy says.