Comment: Nurturing sustainable youthApril 6, 2017, 3:00 pm GMT
The concept of sustainability is not new. But the importance of being sustainable has shifted tremendously in recent years no more so than in the Middle East. This is largely due to the introduction of national visions that outline sustainability as a key pillar of importance for the future of each respective country.
For example, the UAE Vision 2021 highlights the country's goal of working towards improving the quality of air, preserving water resources, increasing the contribution of clean energy and implementing green growth plans. There has also been the implementation of the Sustainable Development plan and most recently in January 2017, the Energy Plan 2050. All have similar goals of achieving a balance between economic needs and environmental goals by reducing renewable, nuclear and clean fossil energy.
So, how do we become sustainable? Being sustainable is not something you're born with; it needs to be taught schools play a crucial role in this aspect. In today's world, education is no longer about learning just facts and figures but is about teaching students how to live successful lives, including sustainability. The topic of climate change and sustainability are crucial topics for the education of future generations.
It is important to leave the world in a better place than it was found. And the key here is to instil this mind-set from a young age through simple techniques such as using less paper or creating an eco-garden so that sustainability becomes innate a way of life rather than a conscious decision.
For students to lead successful lives these days, they need more than As and A*s at GCSE and A Level; they should be educated on how to look after their physical and mental well-being whilst at the same time improving the planet for future generations.
Positive Education (PosEd) directly addresses this and specifically looks at the sustainability of staff and students focusing on mindfulness and well-being. Through teaching mindfulness, it is possible to illustrate to children how their actions can impact the environment and the society they live in children need to be encouraged to be proactive when it comes to sustainability.
Additionally, expressions of gratitude should be common place as it teaches children to appreciate the things around them including nature and preserving the environment.
Teaching good habits at a young age ultimately creates better citizens and creating awareness of the small changes that can be made helps to create a more sustainable environment for the children and their future children.
A SUSTAINABLE NATION
As well as educating the student, school buildings can also be equipped with the tools to conserve energy use by regulating the temperature and lighting, ensuring that no energy is wasted.
This is especially important since the government recently implemented the resolution to follow international building guidelines that create and sustain a cleaner, healthier environment, and a more eco-friendly country.
Being sustainable is a way of life. It is with all of these elements combined that it will be possible to successfully build a sustainable future for schools and students that contribute towards creating smart cities and sustainable living – including work, education, and recreation while meeting national visions such as the UAE Vision 2021.
Rhys Headley, Secondary school teacher, Sunmarke School.
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