For the first time, a number of secondary schools in Malta were today awarded for their achievements during the last scholastic year within the Dinja Waħda programme. Dinja Waħda is a national environmental education programme delivered by BirdLife Malta in collaboration with the Education Directorate. The programme aims to connect children and young people to nature and trigger behavioural changes that will lead to more sustainable lifestyles. It is supported by the European Commission Representation in Malta.
The Dinja Waħda Secondary Sustainability Awards were presented during a ceremony held at the Guardian Angel Secondary Education Resource Centre (San Ġorġ Preca College) in Ħamrun this morning by BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana. The audience included education officials, teachers and students.
Today’s event saw the distribution of awards to schools that took part in pilot projects during 2016, and also marked the launch of the Dinja Waħda Secondary programme for the new scholastic year 2017-18.
BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Waħda initiative, which started in 1994, is the eNGO’s environmental education programme in schools and has separate programmes for primary and secondary schools. The secondary programme for environmental sustainability education through the curriculum aims to generate skills, values and knowledge that allow young people to live in a better balance with the environment. The programme has three sections that a school may participate in through curricular subjects. These are ‘Action for Biodiversity’, ‘Connecting with Nature’ and ‘Outreach for Awareness’.
During today’s event, nine awards in total were distributed among five schools that took part in Dinja Waħda’s secondary pilot programme. These were given gold, silver and bronze awards according to their levels of involvement in the above-mentioned three different categories.
Blata l-Bajda Middle School, San Ġorġ Preca College was successful in the three award categories winning gold for its achievement in ‘Action for Biodiversity’, silver in the ‘Outreach for Awareness’ category and bronze for ‘Connecting with Nature’.
Dun Manwel Attard Young Adult Education Resource Centre of Wardija, Maria Reġina College won two awards in two categories: gold in the ‘Connecting with Nature’ section and silver in the ‘Action for Biodiversity’ category whilst Dingli Secondary School, St Nicholas College won two bronze awards for its achievements in ‘Action for Biodiversity’ and ‘Outreach for Awareness’.
Finally Mrieħel Secondary School, St Theresa College was awarded the gold award in the ‘Action for Biodiversity’ category while Guardian Angel Secondary Education Resource Centre, San Ġorġ Preca College won the bronze award for ‘Connecting with Nature’.
Representatives of all the schools did a short presentation about their work within Dinja Waħda before being presented with their awards. This is the first year that a new award scheme connected with the Secondary programme was offered at a national level.
The Secondary programme follows the success of Dinja Waħda in Primary schools. The Primary School programme is based on an Action Guide of activities linked to the curriculum that connect children to nature. The Secondary programme follows the same education mission but its approach varies to accomodate the subject specialist curriculum in secondary schools.
Desirèe Falzon, coordinator of Dinja Waħda Secondary, explained how each of the three categories on which the Dinja Waħda programme for secondary schools is based addresses the underlying causes of today’s unsustainable lifestyle.
The first, ‘Action for Biodiversity’, counters the increasing destruction of the natural environment by getting students to create spaces for nature in their schools, as part of their subject lessons. The second category, ‘Connecting with Nature’, addresses children’s increasing lack of experiences in nature through a programme of subject lessons carried out in and through nature. The third category, ‘Outreach for Awareness’, targets local environmental issues and encourages critical thinking about their causes and possible solutions, ending in an outreach action with a stakeholder group.
Commenting during this morning’s event Sarah Brady, BirdLife Malta’s Education Officer, commended these schools for their commitment to environmental and sustainability education and encouraged other secondary schools to commit to BirdLife Malta’s programme. She thanked the Guardian Angel Resource Centre’s Head of School for hosting the event and explained that Dinja Waħda’s aims are based on BirdLife Malta’s mission to protect birds, habitats and biodiversity, working with people for the sustainable use of natural resources.