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Classrooms tackle global issues

Reused boxes used for waste separation in classes decorated by the students at the Bishop's Conservatory Secondary School.

Reused boxes used for waste separation in classes decorated by the students at the Bishop's Conservatory Secondary School.

As the world battles climate change and poverty, 15 Maltese schools are helping students understand and care about such issues.

The schools have joined the Global Action Schools partnership through which centres of learning from various countries have agreed to integrate global issues - primarily climate change, human rights and fair trade - into their classrooms and explore how small changes in their day-to-day running could help reduce poverty.

"This project helps raise awareness in children of several global issues," Rita Buttigieg, from the Bishop's Conservatory Secondary School in Gozo, said.

"One example is immigration where many students come with preconceived ideas they get from their parents or the media. The information they are given is often one-sided. By educating them on immigration issues, we give them a fuller picture,"

She was one of the teachers who spoke to The Times after a meeting for Maltese schools participating in Global Action Schools, a project sponsored by the European Commission.

During such meetings, organised by local coordinator Kopin Malta twice a year, teachers keep abreast of world issues with the aim of adapting what they have learnt to their classrooms.

In fact, the project aims to support schools - in Austria, the Czech Republic, England, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Thailand and Malta - to integrate such issues, link up with other schools around the world and find ways of contributing to sustainable development. They do this by following three steps: learn about an issue, investigate what the school is doing to address it and take action. Rita Debattista, from the Ġuzeppi Despott Boys Junior Lyceum, said she gave students a diary and asked them to list their contribution to such issues.

"One boy wrote that, as he was walking along a road with his father, he saw a truck knock down part of a rubble wall. He persuaded his father to help him rebuild the wall," she said.

Vivienne Aquilina, from Carlo Diacono Junior Lyceum, said students were encouraged not to make balls out of used papers but instead to pile them up. They then picked the ones printed on one side and used the blank side.

"Some even came up with ideas of making note books out of those papers... As students get involved, they feel important and start taking initiatives. They end up encouraging friends not to waste," Ms Aquilina said.

Agreeing with her, Ms Buttigieg explained that at the school where she teaches, all classrooms had an environment warden whose role was not to tell on fellow students but to ensure all lights were out and recycling bins were used.

"We are trying to positively influence the attitude they adopt in their everyday life so that they share it with their family," she said.

Aware of the benefits that Global Action Schools had on the children and the community, project coordinator Vince Caruana plans to rope in more schools.

"We believe all schools should integrate the global dimension into their classrooms," he said.

The schools participating in Global Action Schools are: Carlo Diacono Junior Lyceum, FX Attard Boys Secondary, Margaret Mortimer Girls' Junior Lyceum, Anton Cassar Primary School, Lily of the Valley Girls' Secondary School, Bishop's Conservatory Secondary School, Ġużeppi Despott Boys Junior Lyceum, St Paul's Missionary College, Sir Adrian Dingli Girls' Junior Lyceum, Santa Maria Goretti Girls' Secondary, Sir Luigi Preziosi Girls' Secondary, Immaculate Conception, Vincenzo Borg Brared Boys' Secondary School, De La Salle College and San Anton Junior Sector.

For more information drop an e-mail to mariogerada@gmail.com or call 7934 2328.

www.globalactionschools.org

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