International schools in Singapore with eco-friendly ethics and green spaces

Because there's way more to a rounded education than what a child can learn in the classroom alone...

When choosing what international school to send your kids to here in Singapore, there are plenty of requirements you’re sure to have on the checklist. Bilingual programmes, affordability, learning support, international curriculums and accessibility are generally near the top of the list for most parents. But what other considerations are there to take into account when you’re really miffed about which school to plump for? In this day and age an eco-friendly outlook and plenty of green spaces can really seal the deal on a perfect school for our own little learners. We’ve been talking to international schools in Singapore who are really championing all things Mother Earth

UWCSEA, Nathan Hunt, Director of Sustainability

Why do you believe teaching children about environmental sustainability is important?
At UWCSEA, sustainability is at very the heart of our mission, shared by the 17 schools and colleges in the global UWC movement: to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Driven by our mission and values, our K-12 Learning Programme offers opportunities in all five elements – academics, activities, outdoor education, personal and social education, and service – for students to develop the specific understanding and skills necessary for building peace and a sustainable future.

What programmes or initiatives do you have in place to foster environmental responsibility in your students?
UWCSEA’s unique K-12 curriculum aims to develop age-appropriate skills and knowledge in all our students. Our curriculum is informed by research, derived from best practice from around the world, and strengthened by deliberate links to UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development Goals. A collaboration with our educational partner the Ellen Macarthur Foundation ensures that our students are connected to global thinking in critical disciplines such as circular economy.

Sustainable Development is embedded and taught in many parts of our curriculum: for example, the Grade 5 Units of Study culminate in their end-of-year Expo with sustainability as its theme; our Middle School Humanities programme explore development issues across Asia; and in IGCSE and IB subjects such as Geography, Economics, Global Politics, and Environmental Systems and Societies.

Does your school have any green features that you’re especially proud of?
Both UWCSEA campuses have been awarded the BCA Green Mark Platinum – the highest award for environmental efficiency and sustainable buildings in Singapore – and were designed to contribute to our students’ education. Furthermore, every decision made regarding our education programme is based on how we can empower our students to become aware, active and able agents of change to move us all towards our goal of building a better, more sustainable world.

Singapore American School (SAS)  – Prescott Gaylord, Sustainability Manager

Eco-friendly-schools-in-Singapore-SAS

Why do you believe teaching children about environmental sustainability is important?
Many of the solutions to problems we are now creating will need to be solved by students who are now school aged. We need to give them all the tools to be able to think about design, the natural world, interdependence, and sustainability, in order to prepare them for taking on the challenges they will face.

Environmental sustainability as a subject is unique in that it includes important aspects of math, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, history, and other subjects. As an academic subject, sustainability is wonderful for concept-based learning, multidisciplinary projects, and individual inquiry for students.

What programmes or initiatives do you have in place to foster environmental responsibility in your students?
At Singapore American School, we are proud to be a leader among international schools in environmental sustainability practices and we strive to involve students in being good stewards of the environment. Students have the opportunity to study and lead conservation efforts through a wide variety of clubs and activities. Initiatives include:

  • Environmental clubs focusing on ocean protection, recycled material art, urban gardening, planet advocacy, and many more
  • An eco garden designed by students and teachers
  • A rainforest nursery that grows and saves endangered plant species
  • A preserved rainforest on campus used as a living classroom
  • On campus composting, working towards less campus waste
  • SAS recycles plastic, metal, electronic waste, paper, and other materials. There are 160 recycling containers on campus.

Does your school have any green features that you’re especially proud of?
Each year, as we renovate, upgrade, and maintain our world-class campus, we continue to work towards more green initiatives. Some of the sustainable initiatives that we are proud of include:

  • A 1 MW solar array, producing the equivalent of 13.5 percent of the school’s consumption
  • A natural rainforest preserved from the site’s original land
  • Rainwater capture barrels—used on native water-friendly landscape plants
  • Rainwater diverted into our field irrigation tank—allowing SAS to irrigate playing fields with natural rainwater.

Canadian International School (CIS) – Michael Broadhead, IB DP Chemistry Teacher and CIS Sustainability Ambassador

eco-friendly-schools-in-Singapore-CIS

Why do you believe teaching children about environmental sustainability is important?
We as educators have a responsibility to empower the next generation with values, habits, knowledge and skills that can lead to solving the greatest environmental problems facing our civilisation.  The more we know, the better choices we can make.

What programmes or initiatives do you have in place to foster environmental responsibility in your students? 

  • We incorporate teaching sustainability in our curriculum throughout the primary and secondary school years and offer Environmental Systems and Societies as an IB diploma level course.
  • We are a WWF Eco School and have achieved silver status thanks to the work of our student group called Green Machine.  This group plans beach cleanups, Green Mondays, carbon reduction activities and more.
  • Sustainability is included in our new school-wide strategic plan and as part of this we will be emphasising new living habits like zero waste, minimalism, plant-based, carbon positive, biophilia and advocacy. Recently our school switched energy providers to embrace carbon neutral energy through carbon offsetting.

Does your school have any green features that you’re especially proud of?

  • Our Outdoor Discovery Centres featuring an eco pond and herb garden, allows primary students to get closer to nature and connect with it during the school day.  
  • Our secondary students maintain a rooftop garden at our Lakeside campus and other parts of the rooftop feature solar panels.
  • Our Lakeside campus was designed with metal shades outside each window to reduce the amount of sun energy heating rooms, and thus decrease the amount of air con needed.

Global Indian International School (GIIS), Teacher Nandini Hans

Why do you believe teaching children about environmental sustainability is important?
GIIS believes that teaching environmental sustainability to students is important as their present actions and sensibilities will directly impact the future of our environment. With the same belief, the school has incorporated ‘Community Connection, Care and Conserve’ as one of the GEMS in its 9GEMS educational framework. Under this GEM the students are encouraged to love mother nature and come up with innovative ideas for conserving the environment.

What programmes or initiatives do you have in place to foster environmental responsibility in your students?GIIS East Coast Campus initiated the Green Curriculum Programme which fosters novel thinking and teaches effective ways to preserve the planet. Prominent activities organised as part of this initiative include E-Waste Drive, Energy Audit Workshop and maintaining Herbal Garden in the campus.

The school encourages the students to participate on numerous platforms related to environmental issues. One such recent participation was in Young Green Warriors workshop

As a recent initiative, students, along with their parents, are encouraged to celebrate their birthdays by planting a seed or a potted plant in the campus.

Does your school have any green features that you’re especially proud of?
The Herbal Garden located at the centre of the campus adds to the fragrance and beauty of the surroundings. East Coast campus is proud of the garden as it is nurtured over the years by students and staff. Jackfruit, Sweet Potato, Fenugreek, Coconut and Lemon are grown in an organic way inside the campus.

As a result of all the efforts, GIIS East Coast is known as a ‘A Green and Happy’ campus and has received several awards like Singapore Kosia Award and Outstanding Environmental Outreach Project at the Annual Singapore Green Awards (SGA) held at ITE East.

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