97 schools awarded for connecting children with nature

November 28, 2019 10:52 am

A total of 97 schools across Malta and Gozo celebrated their outstanding achievements in connecting children with nature through BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Waħda environmental education programme which is spread across all year groups from Kinder to Secondary students.

For the first time this year one celebration was held covering all ages and schools, with the Dinja Waħda awards ceremony 2019 taking place at Esplora Interactive Science Centre in Kalkara. The accomplishments of no less than 92 Primary schools and another five Middle and Secondary Schools for the last scholastic year were recognised during this annual event.

The Dinja Waħda 2019 awards ceremony took place at Esplora Interactive Science Centre (Photo by Svitlana Shevchuk)

In the Primary sector 64 schools received gold awards, three schools received silver awards, six schools were awarded with bronze awards and 19 schools with certificates. Three schools received the blue banner – an award for schools which maintain the gold award three years in a row, and 40 schools retained the blue banner.

In the Secondary sector two schools received a gold award, whilst seven schools were awarded with bronze awards. In this case the programme consists of three different categories: “Action for Biodiversity”, “Connecting with Nature”, and “Outreach for awareness”, with participating schools awarded for completing actions in each category. The awards are based on commitment to biodiversity and sustainability education.

The awards were distributed to schools by BirdLife Malta President Darryl Grima, BirdLife Malta Education Manager Sarah Brady and Charles Azzopardi, Executive PR & Marketing at Bank of Valletta (BOV). Representatives from all the participating schools including students, teachers and headteachers together with other education officials were also present. Apart from celebrating the success of schools involvement during the last scholastic year (2018-2019), the ceremony also marked the launch of a new year (2019-2020) of engagement in the initiative.

One of the Primary schools awarded this year (Photo by Svitlana Shevchuk)

BirdLife Malta’s Dinja Waħda initiative forms part of the eNGO’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 is run in collaboration with the Directorate for Learning & Assessment Programmes and is supported by Bank of Valletta. It has been running for more than 20 years.

During the event held earlier this week, which took a different format than previous years with interactive activities held in groups for over 200 children and teachers who attended, BirdLife Malta also inaugurated its latest Dinja Waħda Garden at Esplora which will now be open to all those who visit the centre. Through the Ġonna Dinja Waħda initiative, BirdLife Malta provides green spaces in school grounds that offer excellent opportunities for children to connect with nature. Children present for the awards ceremony were also given the opportunity to explore the various exhibitions at Esplora.

Commenting about this year’s awards, BirdLife Malta Education Manager Sarah Brady said: “We are very proud of the amazing Dinja Waħda schools for their work during the last scholastic year. Thanks to the dedication and commitment from the teachers and management teams, children are given the opportunity to learn and connect with nature which will help them to build a better relationship with the environment than we have today”.

One of the Secondary schools awarded this year (Photo by Nathaniel Attard)

BOV Executive PR & Marketing Charles Azzopardi added: “As Malta’s local Bank, it is our duty and responsibility to support in safeguarding our environment. We believe that one of the best ways to do this is through educating children and youths, and this is exactly what Dinja Waħda strives to do. Together we can empower our children to take a leading role in protecting their earth of tomorrow”.

Dr. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Executive Chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), which manages Esplora, commented: “Esplora is very pleased to support BirdLife Malta in its initiatives aimed at educating our younger generation in better appreciation of nature.” Dr Pullicino Orlando added that through the Dinja Waħda Garden, Esplora will be instrumental in engaging more students to find connections with the environment around them and will look forward to welcoming students and the public at the garden over the coming year.

BirdLife Malta would like to extend its congratulations to all the participating schools for their hard work this year as well as give a special thanks to the Dinja Waħda coordinators who ensure the running of the programme in their school and support the teachers voluntarily. Without these coordinators, children would not be able to develop the skills, knowledge and values to protect the environment gained through participation in the Dinja Waħda programme.

We would also like to thank Bank of Valletta for their support as the programme’s educational partners and Esplora Interactive Science Centre for hosting this important ceremony for the first time and providing such a beautiful venue for this year’s event.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.

Short video summing up this year’s Dinja Waħda awards ceremony (Footage and editing by Jose Luque Montero)