Over 80% of primary state, church and independent schools take part in Dinja Waħda and a growing number of secondary schools are carrying out Dinja Waħda cross-curricular projects.
Dinja Waħda’s mission is to connect children with nature and trigger behavioural changes that will lead to future adults who will treat our planet better than we do today through engaging environmental education activities.
To enhance existing and proposed education facilities through landscaping that will improve biodiversity, provide schools with opportunities to engage in experiential outdoor education and allow students to develop a lifelong regard for nature.
Ġonna Dinja Waħda are green spaces in school grounds that offer excellent opportunities for children to connect with nature. They:
- Improve biodiversity within schools through the planting and maintenance of native species and the installation of suitable habitats such as ponds, stone piles and insect homes.
- Provide opportunities for hands-on experiences that lead to developing active citizens who will protect environmental integrity.
- Demonstrate the effectiveness of outdoor education in improving student motivation, academic achievement and individual-level outcomes such as creativity, problem-solving, social skills and self-discipline.
- Create a framework within which students can construct their own learning.
- Promote health benefits of green spaces in school grounds.
- Showcase the value of green spaces as an integral part of school grounds.
Dinja Waħda is an environmental education and education for sustainability programme in formal education, run by BirdLife Malta in collaboration with the Education Directorate.
The Dinja Waħda programme started in 1994, after years of specific-subject education campaigns, the most sustained of which was the Robin campaign, which targeted the practice of Robin trapping among children. Following the success of this educational initative, BirdLife Malta broadended its scope to include the environment as a whole and human influence on it. At this point a need was felt to create a resource applied to local local flora, fauna and habitats, as all existing environment education material was based in other countries. An Action Guide was written by educators within the NGO and distributed to all Primary Schools in Malta and Gozo. Local businesses sponsored the publication.
The programme has always enjoyed the support of the Education Authorities, with its Action Guide endorsed by successive Directors General. In its first year 74 schools participated in Dinja Waħda and since 2003, 80% of schools have participated annually. The first award ceremony took place in 1995, and in 2004 the Dinja Waħda balloon design was established in bass-relief ceramic plaques as the standard award with bronze, silver and gold levels. In 2013, an additional blue banner award was created for schools that showed continued commitment to the programme’s aims. After various trials and pilot projects, Dinja Waħda in Secondary Schools was launched nationally in 2016, with the first five schools receiving awards in 2017. Adapted to youths and the secondary school structure, the programme is based on three areas of activity: connecting with nature, action for biodiversity and outreach for awareness.
Over the years and as a result of experience, study and reseach, the organisation has refined its programme to focus on connecting children, youths and adults with nature. A growing body of research directly relates unsustainable behaviour to disconnecteness from nature. Dinja Waħda aims to generate understanding and respect for nature and to inspire change in people’s behaviour towards sustainable lifestyles.
The Dinja Waħda programme grew out of BirdLife Malta’s mission. Its methodology is based on international research applied to the local scene with original materials and resources for educators created locally. Now, BirdLife Malta is seeking to transfer its knowledge and experience to all the BirdLife partner countries. It is currently carrying out an Eramsus project (One World Learning) whose eventual output will be to make Dinja Waħda an international environmental education and awards programme.
Bank of Valletta (BOV) is the educational partner of BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Waħda programme, helping to deliver a toolkit that gives teachers and children a platform to consciously think about the environment and how to actively protect it through everyday decisions and actions. BOV is committed to considering environmental impacts as part of its decision-making process whilst also involving its staff in activities showing them how to be environmental-friendly both at work and at home.