World-First in Climate Change Teaching for GEMS!

Press release
Published September 2nd, 2019 - 09:45 GMT
During the event
During the event
GEMS Education celebrates the first school in the world to become fully UN climate change certified,

GEMS Education celebrates the first school in the world to become fully UN climate change certified, with 30 senior leaders and all 300 teaching staff, led by Principal, Asha Alexander to lead as Climate Change Teachers, accredited by UN CC:Learn in partnership with Harwood Education.

GEMS The Kindergarten Starters teaching team are set to become the world’s first school with all 300 teachers now certified Climate Change Leaders, accredited by UN CC:Learn in partnership with Harwood Education, with the inclusion of the world’s very first Arabic teachers to qualify.

All students at GEMS Kindergarten Starters will now have the opportunity to be taught by 300 Climate Change Teachers throughout their school. The course is designed to equip educators across all age groups and disciplines with the knowledge and confidence to deliver lessons on climate change. Students will cover a range of topics including climate change science, gender and environment, children and climate change, cities and climate change, and human health. 

GEMS Kindergarten Starters Principal, Asha Alexander says, “By training our teachers to educate children about the impact of climate change, we will enable them to be responsible citizens of the future. Completing this course has given our teachers confidence in their own understanding of the issues and in their position as a UN accredited specialist Climate Change Teachers, to teach children effectively.”

“GEMS is already leading the way in climate change education, which is embedded across our courses, inspiring students and staff to learn about the wide range of issues generated by this pressing global issue. As we prepare to tackle the climate emergency, this is a fantastic opportunity for us to be the first school in the world to fully deliver and support the UN Sustainable Development Goal of having an accredited Climate Change Teacher in every school throughout the UAE.”

All Climate Change Teachers, accredited by UN CC:Learn in partnership with Harwood Education, are added to the Interactive World Map of Climate Change Teachers and invited to join the ‘educcateglobal’ social site where teachers are building and sharing a cross-curricular climate curriculum based on thousands of lessons and content items designed to ensure children receive the very best groundbreaking lessons on Climate Literacy, Sustainability, the Green Economy, Adaptation and Mitigation and even the Legal Framework of Climate Change as set out by the IPCC.

Education specialist Melanie Harwood, of Harwood Education, says, “The Principal of GEMS Kindergarten Starters, Asha Alexander, has most certainly set the bar high for all schools throughout the UAE and the world to follow.  The way that Asha Alexander has ensured this is fully delivered throughout Kindergarten Starters is revolutionary and her approach is now the template which we at educcateglobal are asking all Headteachers and education leaders globally to follow closely.  We asked for one Climate Change Teacher in Every School and GEMS delivered not only that but a Climate Change Teacher in Every Classroom! This is a ground-breaking approach and now we feel strongly that this is the benchmark that every school must achieve. Young children are far more vulnerable to climate-related disasters and associated health risks than any other social group. We need to give them the tools to understand the effects of a changing climate so that they can take well informed and effective action in the future. In these days of a Climate Emergency, now more than ever, teachers all need the knowledge in these five courses that make up the Climate Change Teacher Course to ensure they deliver clear cross-curricular Climate Literacy to all their pupils.”

Angus Mackay of UNITAR says, "We are delighted that early years education centres, such as GEMS Kindergarten Starters, are taking an interest in building climate change into their curricula.  We believe that the UNCC:Learn courses which are being made available through the eduCCateGlobal Project, in partnership with Harwood Education, provide the content that teachers need in order to bring key issues into the classroom. Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. It is vital that children have access to the best information.

Asha Alexander, Principal and CEO at GEMS The Kindergarten Starters school, said: “At GEMS The Kindergarten Starters, it is now possible to see the UN objectives for sustainability in action. This achievement is a world first of its kind and meets a key UN target for sustainable development. I am thrilled to be a part of the GEMS Education wide commitment to do ‘what is right’ with such an important positive global move for the future of education, and I am proud of all my staff who have committed to this journey. I would like to commend our teachers, many of whom worked over the summer to acquire the certification. It is a magnificent achievement and a testament to their hard work and commitment to education, their students and the world we live in.”

GEMS The Kindergarten Starters team is spearheaded by Asha Alexander, Principal and CEO, who is working closely with Harwood Education in partnership with UN CC:Learn - The One United Nations Climate Change Learning Partnership - to bring world-class environmental education to every child in the school, and to every GEMS Education school across the world.

This move by GEMS Education also comes in regional alignment with UAE Government initiatives on sustainability, with regards to the National Environmental Education and Awareness Strategy 2015-20121, in its drive to educate youth to progress the UAE to a sustainable future and improve the community’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection.

All ancillary staff, teaching staff and students at GEMS The Kindergarten Starters will continue to be trained further in effective waste management at the school, alongside several other in-school initiatives to be undertaken that will become part of the core curriculum.

Marwa Alimaher Meheia, Head of Arabic and Islamic Studies at GEMS The Kindergarten Starters, who is one of three Arabic teachers from the school to become the first Arabic teachers in the world to qualify as Climate Change Teachers, accredited by UN CC:Learn in partnership with Harwood Education,  said: “It is an honour to have qualified in climate change as it should be so close to everyone’s heart, I am looking forward to imparting knowledge onto my students.”

GEMS The Kindergarten Starters school focuses on and engages with critically contemporary issues, and prioritises humanity and culture in designing systems and environments to improve the human condition. Through effective engagement with the local community and employing better communication, systems and organizations it encourages its students to strive to meet the social needs of UAE and the world.

Background Information

GEMS Education

In 1959, two teachers, KS Varkey and his wife Mariamma, arrived in Dubai. 

At the time, Dubai was a burgeoning trade centre on the Arabian Gulf. The Varkey family had left Kerala, India to seek a better life for their family. What they found was a real need to educate children arriving in the city from around the world.

Their son, Sunny, added a visionary’s ambition to a practitioner's experience. From simple roots in a family of teachers, GEMS Education, is today an international company with schools and education services across the Middle East. We still share the same mission - to provide a quality education to everyone.

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