78 schools awarded for connecting children with nature

November 24, 2022 4:16 pm

A total of 78 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.

The Dinja Waħda 2022 Awards Ceremony, celebrating the success of the 2021/2022 scholastic year, took place earlier today at Esplora Interactive Science Centre.

Dinja Waħda 2022 Awards Ceremony held at Esplora

In the Primary sector 51 schools received the Gold Award, five schools received the Silver Award, three schools were awarded with Bronze, and 15 schools received a Certificate. Two new schools received the Blue Banner, an award for schools that maintain the Gold Award for three consecutive years.

In the Secondary sector two schools received the Gold Award, one school the Silver Award and one school the Bronze Award. The awards are based on commitment to biodiversity and sustainability education.

One of the schools awarded (All photos by Jody Fiteni & Nathaniel Attard)

The 2021/2022 scholastic year gave us the most awaited opportunity to host again school field visits at our nature reserves after two years of COVID-19 restrictions and not being able to meet the students in person. We were very happy to welcome back around 3,700 students to Simar, Foresta 2000, Għadira and Salina Nature Reserves.

We were also excited to see that 25 schools reported activities and positive feedback from our newest education programme Dinja Waħda+. This new Action Guide offers activities and resources which are tailor-made for each year group and are all available online on BirdLife Malta’s website. The topics proposed consist of a progression of activities integrating knowledge, values and skills.

The ceremony also marked the launch of a new scholastic year of engagement (2022/2023) with Dinja Waħda, which forms part of BirdLife Malta’s commitment to protect wildlife and its habitats through nature-based learning activities. The programme is run in collaboration with the Directorate for Learning & Assessment Programmes and  is supported by Bank of Valletta.

Charles Azzopardi, Head of CSR & Communication at BOV

The BirdLife Malta Education team was also excited to announce that Dinja Waħda is now going international. The Ornithological Society in Romania has this year launched “Nature Friendly Kindergartens”. Dinja Waħda+ activities have been translated in Romanian and adapted to the local environment.  We are happy to see that our efforts towards environmental education have no borders and together with the other BirdLife partners, we can bring more students and teachers closer to nature.

Another highlight of today’s event was the presentation of the Erasmus+ Natural Nations project which is now coming to a conclusion after three years of exciting work. The project enabled us to add more activities to the Dinja Waħda+ programme which emphasise the importance of pollinators and improving biodiversity on the school grounds. The students who attended got the chance to plant their own herbs and learnt about the importance of flowers for pollinators.

BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana

The awards were presented to schools by BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana, BirdLife Malta Education Manager Stefania Papadopol and Charles Azzopardi, Head of CSR & Communication at Bank of Valletta (BOV).

Commenting about this year’s awards, BirdLife Malta Education Manager Stefania Papadopol said: “We are very happy to celebrate another year of success and commitment of schools in nature education. It is comforting to know that more teachers understand that time in nature is not just nice to have, but essential to have happy, healthy and resilient children, and that effort is made to protect the natural environment”.

BirdLife Malta Education Manager Stefania Papadopol

Charles Azzopardi, Head of CSR & Communication at BOV, added: “In line with the Bank’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) long-term commitment, BOV is honoured to form part of Dinja Waħda, a project which is crucial in educating our youth about the importance of caring for our natural environment. It gives us hope for a better and more sustainable future knowing that the younger generation are prioritising the environment and doing their bit to protect it. With that being said, we encourage everyone to do their part in preserving our environment.”

BirdLife Malta would like to congratulate 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 which are gained through participation in the Dinja Waħda programme.

We would also like to thank Bank of Valletta for their continuous support as the programme’s educational partner and official sponsor and Esplora Centre for hosting us for this year’s awards ceremony.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.

Click here for the list of schools presented with the Dinja Waħda Awards 2022.