Young agents of change who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Imagine a school environment where learners become agents of change – not simply learning passively about climate change but rather empowering them with the knowledge, skills and values needed to act as agents of change.
This is exactly what has been happening at The Australian International School Malaysia over the past 2 years. A pilot program was launched during the Covid pandemic aimed to connect learners to the earth, to the planet and to sustainable environments. Surprisingly, this movement was led by the school’s youngest minds – those in the Early Learning Centre.
These youngest learners of our lush, green campus that caters for 3-18 year olds, are strongly connected to nature thanks to a Reggio Emilia approach. As founder of this approach to early childhood education Loris Malaguzzi states, “There are three teachers of children: adults, other children, and their physical environment.” We want all of our learners at The Australian International School Malaysia to be connected and advocates of their natural environment.
Whilst online learning in 2020/2021, our passionate learners designed their dream gardening space for their return to campus. They surveyed their peers, teachers and parents to assist them in the naming process, ultimately labelling their initiative ‘Living HQ’. Their homes became our nurseries as they curiously explored what plants need to grow and the positive impact they have upon our air quality. It was such a proud moment when they arrived back on campus, exiting cars with their self grown long bean, papaya and pumpkin plants.
We are fortunate to have an expert horticulturist working each week with our teachers and assisting them when using the Living HQ as a learning space beyond the classroom. Our ELC experts have also been upskilling our older year levels and expanding upon the original area. Together they have created a unique space that is flourishing with plants that receive nourishment from self-generated, organic soil. There are worm farms fed from our Canteen’s food wastes, composting that is aerated by our Year 1s, and plenty of herbs, fruits and vegetables that are harvested by our Year 4s.
Our goal is for our learners to become responsible for creating a sustainable future. We are fortunate that our rigorous Australian Curriculum uniquely emphasises sustainability across all key learning areas. Through the Inquiry Process, our learners investigate why global warming is occurring and ponder actions of change that will make a difference. One current Year 2 learner discovered that in Malaysia it is estimated that 14 tonnes of garbage is expected to be collected throughout 2022. This works out to nearly 40,000 tonnes a day – an estimated 95 percent of which will end up in landfills.
Learners from The Australian International School Malaysia want to be responsible for creating a sustainable future – in fact, they demand it! They have read the 2022 IPCC Sixth Assessment Report which assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at a global and regional level. I wonder how many others out there have pondered this report and created actions for change?
Thanks to the initiative of our young activists, we as a school are now in a much better position to minimise the impact of climate change. Our Senior School learners have developed an Environmental Committee, passionately referred to as the Green Team, who proactively talks about ideas for environmental initiatives based around sustainability, climate change and caring for our world.
We are well on our way to becoming a certified Eco School and our Living HQ has now expanded to include a new nursery for seed collection, storage and germination, larger spaces dedicated to composting and even more worms! Vertical gardens on balconies are now being established to decrease the surface temperature of our campus, hydroponics are providing us with unique Science & Technology learning experiences and a ‘Reduce Waste Education Initiative’ is loud and proud across our campus.
If you are feeling curious about how young learners can become activists with a passion for sustainability, climate change and genuine care for our world, the solution is simple – come and visit us at The Australian International School Malaysia during our Open Week from 7 – 10 June 2022, and enjoy 100% rebate on application fees and a 100% waiver on admissions fee*.
Register your interest now at https://bit.ly/3wYzL3K
*Terms and conditions apply
– By Leigh Janett, Deputy Head of Junior School, Australian International School Malaysia
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