Schools encouraged to learn more about successful urban gardening initiatives
Helping Dubai schools to learn from each other, the latest edition of What Works held on January 18, 2016, focused on gardening in schools as a tool to improve student learning. More than 25% of Dubai’s private schools grow food, according to new statistics released by Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) on Monday.
Inspiring schools to take-up the challenge of growing their own food, Stephen Ritz, an expert on urban gardening talked to students and teachers at the What Works event hosted by KHDA.
“Children should not have to leave their neighbourhood to live, learn and earn in a better way. In the back of my classroom, something is always growing. In order to be well read, you have to be well fed and we all need to grow healthier schools,” says Stephen.
Children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables or express a preference for these foods according to research. Gardening has also been linked with greater student achievement in science.
A special workshop on urban gardening hosted at the What Works helped teachers learn more about growing their own garden in small spaces.
Stephen shared his journey from being an ordinary schoolteacher to an advocate for healthier schools as he said, “It all started with seeds which transformed into farms. We ended up creating the first edible wall in New York City with the help of school students and people started taking notice. When students changed ordinary classrooms into green spaces, there was no looking back.”
Gardening programs have been considered particularly effective at engaging ‘non-academic learners’ and children with challenging behaviours.
Mouza Al-Suwaidi, Chief of Engagement at KHDA encouraged educators to learn from each other as she said, “Many schools in Dubai have already created their own green space and started growing fruits and vegetables successfully inside school farms. It is inspiring to see passionate teachers sending a positive message to students and parents. Many of these learners are seeing food grow right in front of them for the first time.”
Students who participated in a one-year gardening program showed a significant increase in self-understanding and the ability to work in groups compared to nonparticipating students. What Works SteAm (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) also showcased successful student projects.
The What Works movement of sharing positive practice in Dubai’s schools continued with What Works SteAm, which took place 18 January, 2016. This event was for all teachers who are integrating art and design into a number of school subjects – and motivating students to see old ideas in new ways.
To date, more than 15,000 teachers and principals have attended 20 What Works events over three years.
How gardening initiatives are implemented in Dubai schools:
Depending on the school, gardening initiatives are either extra-curricular programs or fully integrated with the curriculum through science and entrepreneurship. Many initiatives are student-led in Dubai schools. Gardening initiatives involve students of all school grades (KG-12).
Dubai schools that have urban gardening projects
1 GEMS Our Own Indian School (Al Quoz)
2 GEMS Our Own English High School (Al Warqa)
4 Horizon International School
5 Ranches Primary
6 Oxford School
7 GEMS Metropole
9 Dubai Modern Education School
11 Arab Unity School / Primary
13 Cambridge International School
14 Little Flowers
15 Kings Dubai
16 Gulf Indian High School
17 Al Salam
18 Apple International
21 Al Mawaqeb
23 Pristine Private School
25 Al Sadiq School
26 GEMS WSO
27 Al Shourq
28 GEMS International School Al Khail
29 Al Diyafah
30 Sharjah American International School
31 The Private Religious Institute
32 American Academy Al Mihzar
33 Towheed Iranian School
34 The Central School Of Dubai
35 Ambassador KG
36 French School
38 School Of Modern Skills
Schools that are interested to start urban gardening projects or that have just started
39 Raffles World Academy
40 GEMS new millennium
41 The Indian High School
42 GEMS Metropole
43 The School of Research Science
44 Al Maaref
45 Dubai British School Jumeirah Park
- KHDA Media