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In a celebration of academic excellence and innovation, two leading UAE-based schools have secured spots on the coveted Top 10 shortlists for the $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes. The prize was founded in 2022 by T4 Education in cooperation with Accenture, American Express, Yayasan Hasanah, and the Lemann Foundation.

Abu Dhabi’s Mamoura British Academy is being recognised for its unwavering commitment to sustainability, earning them a place on the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action. In Dubai, GEMS Modern Academy’s forward-thinking approach to learning has secured them a spot on the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation.

These awards highlight the crucial role schools play in not only educating the next generation but also in contributing to societal progress, especially in a post-COVID landscape. They underscore the transformative impact schools have on students and the broader community.

Vikas Pota, the visionary behind T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, stated, “These shortlisted schools, irrespective of their location or curriculum, all exhibit a strong culture of excellence and innovation. They know how to attract and inspire exceptional educators, facilitate change, and cultivate excellent learning environments.”

Pota extended his hearty congratulations to Mamoura British Academy and GEMS Modern Academy on their nomination, stressing that their accomplishments will inspire educational institutions worldwide.

Similarly, Jill Huntley, Managing Director – Global Corporate Citizenship at Accenture, applauded Mamoura British Academy’s achievements. Accenture takes great pride in its collaboration with T4 Education on the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, celebrating the efforts of schools to empower students to tackle global sustainability challenges.

A Glimpse Inside the Schools:

Mamoura British Academy: Situated in Abu Dhabi, Mamoura British Academy is setting a global standard in sustainability action, particularly as the world’s eyes turn to the UAE, the host of COP28 this year. The Academy’s initiatives, run predominantly by a passionate team of student ambassadors, are aiding the school in achieving Eco Green flag status.

From humble beginnings with simple recycling projects, Mamoura British Academy has seamlessly integrated sustainability into the curriculum and its culture. The students have undertaken various initiatives like the ‘Pile It Up Challenge’, ‘Simply Bottles’ project, and House competitions aimed at carbon footprint reduction. Also, the school introduced sustainable food practices through aeroponic gardens, where students manage the crop cycles to reduce food waste. Strategic collaborations with Madar Farms and Grazia Farms have further enhanced their curriculum and sustainability practices. The students have envisioned a desert/forest school should they win the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, which will be a serene, naturalistic learning environment promoting exploration, curiosity, and the relationship between humans and nature.

GEMS Modern Academy: Based in Dubai, GEMS Modern Academy is paving the way for the future of education, as evidenced by its 37% year-on-year rise in student participation and collaborations with DFC, SAP, and Microsoft. The Academy was ahead of its time, integrating technology and entrepreneurship into its curriculum as early as 2001. Its initiatives range from an online report card system created by students and teachers to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.

Through partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard Project Zero, the school has incorporated STEAM and technology integration, thinking routines, and a multidisciplinary approach to innovation called the futures curriculum method. The school fosters an entrepreneurial mindset, starting in primary school with ‘Unit of Inquiry projects and continuing through middle and senior school with programs such as ‘Challenge-Based Learning’, ‘Prism Project’, and ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme’. With the help of the Hamdan Incubation Center, it has raised AED 85,000 to bring student projects to the market. Moreover, their model of distributed authority and decision-making, inspired by holacracy, empowers their Student and Innovation Councils, fostering exploration of emerging technologies like blockchain, AI, and robotics.

What’s Next?

In September 2023, the Top 3 finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes will be announced, and the winners will be unveiled in October. A distinguished panel of global leaders, including academics, educators, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and the private sector, will select the winners based on stringent criteria. The total prize money of USD 250,000 will be divided equally among the winners of the five categories, each receiving USD 50,000.

Additionally, all 50 shortlisted schools will be invited to share their best practices through T4 Communities app events or School Transformation Toolkits, helping to improve education everywhere. The School Transformation Toolkits from last year’s winning and shortlisted schools are now available online.