Al Wisam SEE – Al Wisam Sustainability and Eco Education: Al Wisam School


Education_BH: Innovation and Excellence celebrates the remarkable innovations implemented in Bahrain’s schools and universities. We learned about these innovations, the process, the challenges, and the lessons learned from some of the leading educational institutions in the Kingdom. Read more in our latest issue.

Al Wisam SEE is a whole-school project that focuses on sustainability and eco-education at Al Wisam School. With this in mind, Al Wisam School’s students, faculty, governance, and leadership wanted to foster a program so that the school serves not only as training grounds for environmental management but also as a canvas where students can design and implement environmental committees and programs. It was believed that students needed to have positive experiences within the environment and learn values to appreciate and protect it. The project is built along the lines of integrating sustainability in the 3 Cs – Campus (physical environment and operational practices), Community, and the curriculum of the school. The project aims to improve the health of the environment and community wellness.

How was the innovation planned?

In the realm of educational innovations, Al Wisam School took a unique path. Unlike many schools that highlight the inception and execution of grand programs, our journey began with a modest committee that organically expanded into a comprehensive school-wide initiative through professional development, staff collaboration, and community engagement. This innovation started four years ago as a simple school cleaning committee that would help clean the school campus during break time called the “Green team”. The initiative gained momentum as various science departments introduced “Recycle, Reuse, and Reduce” campaigns. These campaigns involved repurposing waste materials, such as bottle caps, for artistic endeavours in collaboration with the art department or using rejected paper to print Qurans.

The integration of UN Sustainable Development Goals spread across departments, influencing classroom practices. Amid the challenges posed by COVID-19, the counselling department introduced wellness checks for parents, students, and staff. As of the end of 2021, various sustainability initiatives were flourishing across the school, prompting the decision to consolidate these efforts under the umbrella of Al Wisam SEE – Al Wisam Sustainability and Eco-Education.

With the advent of the sister programme, “BYOD – Bring your own device”, the paper trail of Al Wisam School was reduced. The project gained momentum swiftly, with the ICT and Science Departments collaboratively developing an E-Garden. This innovative space features plants native to Bahrain’s environment, each accessible via QR codes for scientific environmental tracking. Reading spaces were transformed into gardens, exemplified by the creation of the Library Garden. Students, following a class-wise schedule, actively participated in potting edible plants and herbs.

Community outreach took centre stage, emphasizing the importance of involving parents and guest speakers to address wellness and ecological issues. Cafeteria waste reduction programs and the conversion of waste foods from student lunch boxes to compost became embedded in the school’s ethos, with students embracing the mantra of “WASTE NOT, WANT NOT.”. Simultaneously, the counselling department expanded the Green Committee, giving rise to two additional committees focusing on water conservation and energy efficiency.

Departments across the curriculum embraced sustainability, with the English department incorporating sustainability goals into essays, debates, and competitions. The Math and Commerce departments strategically integrated sustainability concepts into major events aimed at fostering entrepreneurship. Science projects in classrooms explored the use of greywater for plantations and the utilization of solar energy. School Assemblies centred around “EARTH DAY”, “Biodiversity” and conservation took centre stage. Even field trips were planned around the concept of sustainability.

In essence, Al Wisam SEE embodies a holistic and dynamic approach to sustainability and eco-education, showcasing the power of collective innovation within an educational institution

What were the challenges faced during implementation?

Implementing Al Wisam SEE’s comprehensive sustainability and eco-education program faced multifaceted challenges. The integration of sustainability into various subjects, as well as ensuring teachers could adeptly incorporate these concepts into teaching practices, required dedicated efforts in educational training and support. Engaging the community demanded ongoing efforts to garner support and participation. The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic added an unforeseen layer of complexity, affecting the execution of certain program components and requiring adaptability. Establishing effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms was essential for tracking the program’s impact and identifying areas for improvement. Ensuring a long-term commitment to sustainability and cultivating a cultural shift within the school community necessitated strategic planning and continuous reinforcement of sustainability values. Finally, effective communication about the program’s goals and benefits was crucial for maintaining enthusiasm and garnering support from all stakeholders. Addressing these challenges showcased the program’s resilience and the dedication of the Al Wisam School community to fostering sustainable practices.

Give us a brief assessment of your results.

Al Wisam SEE programme has yielded positive outcomes. The transformation from a simple school cleaning committee to a comprehensive sustainability and eco-education initiative demonstrates significant progress. The incorporation of eco-friendly practices into various departments and subjects indicates a successful integration of sustainability into the school’s academic fabric. Overall, Al Wisam SEE seems to have fostered a culture of environmental consciousness and active participation, reflecting positively on the program’s objectives and implementation.

In hindsight, what were the most valuable lessons learned while implementing the innovation? Could things have been done differently?

The most important lesson here perhaps is that incremental progress matters. The evolution of Al Wisam SEE from a modest cleaning committee, the “Green Team,” to a comprehensive sustainability program underscores the significance of incremental progress. Starting with a small-scale initiative allowed for organic growth, adaptation, and acceptance within the school community. This gradual approach enabled the program to build momentum and garner support, illustrating the value of beginning with manageable steps and progressively expanding the scope of sustainability efforts.

Incremental Progress must be seen and developed by Long-term vision. The decision to consolidate diverse sustainability efforts under the umbrella of Al Wisam SEE proved the strategic focus on a long-term vision. This lesson emphasizes the importance of having a cohesive and overarching plan for sustainability initiatives. By unifying various projects and campaigns, Al Wisam School ensured clarity of purpose and direction, fostering a sustained commitment to environmental consciousness. This approach not only enhances the program’s impact but also provides a framework for continued innovation and adaptation over time.

One of the most valuable lessons from Al Wisam SEE’s implementation is the paramount importance of community engagement. The program’s success was significantly influenced by the active participation of parents, faculty, and local stakeholders. The only thing we would have done differently would be to foster a sense of shared responsibility much earlier in the programs so that the school-created community-driven approach to sustainability would show results earlier. This engagement was the main proponent that bolstered support for eco-friendly initiatives and also contributed to a broader societal impact, instilling a culture of environmental consciousness within and beyond the school walls.

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