Find out how these top international schools are working their way towards a greener, more sustainable future.
It’s no secret that Mother Earth is angry. In the last few months alone, there have been devastating bush fires, volcanic eruptions and extreme flooding. It’s pretty scary stuff, all happening (no) thanks to climate change. Which is why it’s more important than ever for our kids to learn how to take care of our planet and preserve it for generations to come. Teaching them about sustainability will make them more aware of our dwindling natural resources and, above all, understand the need to save what’s left. HoneyKids had a chat with experts from some of the top international schools in Singapore to find out how they’re teaching kids about sustainability, the deets on how green their campus is, and easy eco-friendly activities parents can try at home with their kids.
Canadian International School (CIS)
At CIS, the theme of sustainability is interspersed throughout various programmes and is in line with its vision of “making the world a better place”. In order to do so, the school works to empower students with values, habits, knowledge and skills that can lead to solving the greatest environmental problems facing our civilisation. Michael Broadhead, CIS Sustainability lead and Chemistry teacher, shares more about sustainability at CIS.
What does CIS do to encourage its students to be more sustainable in their daily lives?
CIS promotes six sustainable-living habits to help heal the earth:
1. Plant-based diets
4. Biophilia (establishing a strong connection with nature)
5. Zero-waste lifestyle (engaging in reducing, reusing and recycling activities)
6. Carbon-positive activities (engaging in activities that go beyond a net-zero carbon emission and instead remove additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere).
How does sustainability fit into your curriculum?
In our PYP programme, we have a trans-disciplinary theme ”Sharing the Planet”; while in our MYP programme we have units with a Global Context of Globalisation and Sustainability. In the DP programme, we offer the Environmental Systems and Societies course.
As long as there is an opportunity, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is integrated into teaching at CIS, to highlight the global collaboration that is underway to create a sustainable future.
Singapore American School (SAS)
The folks at Singapore American School (SAS) are on the path to developing an Education Education for Sustainability (EfS) philosophy. It is a blend of environmental science, community action and service leadership. Its aim? To encourage students to become global citizens grounded in science so they can help build an equitable and sustainable world. Dr Martha Began, SAS Faculty lead, explains how sustainability is promoted at the school.
What are some of the awards SAS has received with regards to sustainability?
Singapore American School has twice received Singapore National Parks (Nparks) Creative Co-Adopter Awards for the design and implementation of the Pulau Ubin Sensory trail. It also has one of Singapore’s largest solar panel arrays, student-managed campus recycling, student-initiated solid waste reduction, food composting and energy-saving programs.
SAS has been awarded the highest green building rating, Certified Green Mark Gold. With a two-hectare patch of secondary rainforest on campus, a partnership with Singapore Botanic Gardens and a generous grant from the SAS Foundation, SAS designed a rainforest nursery adjacent to the campus rainforest patch.
What are some easy activities parents can do at home to teach children about sustainability?
Parents can benefit their children by providing engagement in the service of something they believe in, is morally compelling, joyful and politically exciting. Creating experiential learning opportunities in communities while contributing to the common good is learning about the present life, in the present life, for the present life.
At GIIS, it’s all about following sustainable practices. Green philosophy is well-implemented in the design of the campus as well as the school’s curriculum and pedagogy. In fact, the GIIS SMART Campus is a BCA Greenmark-certified building, built with environmentally friendly materials from Japan. It also has the latest energy-saving technology, and is designed to leave the lowest carbon footprint. Water management is a big element in the Green design of the campus and features like rainwater harvesting ensure every drop of this precious commodity is carefully utilised. Jagirti Mehta, GIIS’s Environmental Management teacher and Green Activities lead, shares more…
In your opinion, what makes a school green? What are some sustainable practices GIIS has put in place?
A truly green school will offer the students enough opportunities to participate in sustainable activities, inside and outside school. By being a member of Singapore’s Community in Bloom Programme, GIIS students get ample chances to learn about environmental conservation and contribute to the cause.
As well as smart elements like corridor lights with sensors and water coolers operated by solar energy, the school also works smartly by going paperless.
How has your school adapted sustainability into its curriculum?
The school appoints around 10 student council leaders who lead the green initiatives in the school. The green initiative leaders raise awareness through a series of planned activities like raising awareness on Earth Day, voluntary service for environmental causes and so on. We also have a fully-fledged Environment Lab at the campus that allows students to perform environmentally-conscious experiments.
White Lodge‘s five core values , also known as its blueprint, includes the tenet “We respect our world.” Which means, just as we respect each other, we need to respect our community and the world around us. Students are taught to have sensitivity and compassion for our world, and learn to cherish what they have been given. They also learn about nurturing our resources and the importance of working to eliminate wastefulness. Raihannah Raimi, White Lodge’s Head of School, explains how White Lodge teaches children about sustainability.
How do the children learn about sustainability?
We encourage children to respect each other. Both children and teachers take part in activities that nurture respect towards the community and the world around us. The children learn to look after the resources available to them to ensure waste is reduced.
Units of inquiry as part of our curriculum also include recycling to introduce the importance of caring for the environment. Each year, our annual art exhibitions share a message of earth conservation. The art materials and resources used are made mainly of recyclables like old fishing nets, food containers, pet bottles and so on, that are all turned into a work of art.
How eco-friendly are your classrooms? What makes them energy efficient?
Each school has its own communal garden with vegetables and herbs that can be harvested and used in our cooking classes. Teachers also practise ‘turn off as you go’ when they leave the classrooms.
The folks at MSIS have always believed in being as green and as eco-friendly as possible. They believe in teaching the young the importance of protecting the earth so that they can share the experience of living in a beautiful world with their own children. Sukhbinder Colebourne, Principal of MSIS shares more about the school’s green initiative.
How has your school adapted sustainability into its curriculum?
All the learners at the school get to learn all about how to recycle and discover what it means for the
environment. Our annual art exhibition always entails the children making something out of recycled materials in conjunction with our art therapist. Last year we learnt all about saving our planet and the children created animals such as whales, sea turtles, corals etc. all from recyclable materials.
How environmentally-friendly are your classrooms?
Instead of using disposable whiteboard markers, we use refillable ones instead. We recycle newspaper as well as glass, plastic and paper for the local rubbish collectors too. Additionally, each year, in our art exhibition, we always use recycled materials in our artworks. Lunches are delivered in recyclable containers and all students are encouraged to use refillable water bottles instead of plastic bottles. All aircons and appliances are turned off if they are not in use.