86 schools across Malta and Gozo were today awarded for their achievements during the 2015-2016 scholastic year within Dinja Waħda which is the biggest environmental education programme in Malta run by BirdLife Malta in collaboration with the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education and with the support of the European Commission Representation in Malta.
The Dinja Waħda annual awards were presented during a prize-giving ceremony held at Dun Manwel Attard Young Adult Education Resource Centre (Maria Reġina College) in Wardija this morning by Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth and Sport Chris Agius who in a brief message for the occasion outlined the importance of outdoor learning for school children to gain new skills. He praised BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Waħda programme and the sterling work done by the eNGO in schools in relation to nature. He also thanked teachers and heads of school for their work in environmental education.
Apart from celebrating the success of schools involvement during the last scholastic year, today’s ceremony also marked the launch of a new year of engagement. Those present were also updated with the programme’s achievements and main events during the last scholastic year.
BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Waħda initiative forms part of the NGO’s commitment to protect wildlife and its habitats through outdoor activities for school children both in school grounds and through educational visits to Malta’s nature reserves to help them connect with nature. The programme has been running for more than 20 years.
During today’s event 55 schools recieved the Gold Award for excellent achievements in environmental education, 6 were presented with the Silver Award, 3 recieved the Bronze Award and a further 23 schools were awarded with a Certificate. Over and above these, the Blue Banner Award is given to those schools who have recieved the Gold Award for three years or more. 22 schools have recieved this award, 3 of which for the first time.
For this scholastic year a new activity is being launched called Dinja Waħda Rangers which is all about students assessing their school grounds to see how nature friendly they are and then taking action to improve them, thus making the space better for biodiversity and also for the students at the school who can enjoy the outdoor space more.
BirdLife Malta’s Desirèe Falzon, one of the coordinators of Dinja Waħda, spoke about research which shows that connection with nature in children today is missing and this proves the importance of such programmes. She also called for teachers to further promote outdoor learning amongst their students as in doing this they ensure that school children realise the importance of safeguarding nature as a way of life.
At the end of the ceremony Parliamentary Secretary Agius distributed the prizes to schools, flanked by BirdLife Malta’s Education Manager Hannah Chisholm who is this week leaving the NGO to seek new pastures after three successful years in this role.
Dinja Waħda 2015-2016 main achievements
- Amongst Dinja Waħda’s main achievements during the last scholastic year there was the activity ‘Foster a Forest’ that is linked to BirdLife’s Foresta 2000 and which raises donations and awareness about the importance of trees. The amount of money raised was enough to ‘foster’ an area of 3,383m2 at Foresta 2000 for the duration of one year.
- Teacher training sessions to support schools to effectively use the resources provided were delivered at 8 schools, benefiting 168 teachers.
- During 2015-2016 primary and secondary schools were offered a total of 276 days of field teaching delivered by 3 field teachers. These curriculum linked visits reached a total of 5,890 students over the scholastic year.
- BirdLife Malta also launched a new publication which is a take home activity booklet to encourage families to get outdoors and explore nature following the students’ visits to the nature reserve.
- Classroom based green talks were also offered and were attended by 2,215 school children, with 40 different schools participating.
Read the Maltese version of the press release here.