Two inspirational UAE schools named in Top 10 shortlists for new $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes

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  • GEMS Legacy School named in Top 10 shortlist for World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action
  • Shining Star International School named in Top 10 shortlist for World’s Best School Prize for Innovation

Two inspirational UAE schools have been named in the Top 10 shortlists for the new $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes, launched this year by T4 Education in partnership with Accenture and American Express.

GEMS Legacy School, a private K-12 school in Dubai, UAE, has been named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action. Shining Star International School, an independent institution in Abu Dhabi, UAE, has been named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation.

The five World’s Best School Prizes, founded by T4 Education in partnership with Accenture, American Express, Yayasan Hasanah, Templeton World Charity Foundation, and the Lemann Foundation, celebrate schools everywhere for the pivotal role they play in developing the next generation of learners and for their enormous contribution to society’s progress especially in the wake of COVID.

Vikas Pota, Founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, said:

“With over 1.5 billion learners impacted by school and university closures, COVID has greatly exacerbated a global education crisis in which, even before the pandemic, the UN warned progress was already too slow to achieve universal quality education by 2030.

“We have launched the World’s Best School Prizes as a grassroots solution to help build the systemic change needed. By telling the stories of inspirational schools that are transforming the lives of their students and making a real difference to their communities, schools can share their best practices and have their voices heard at the top table to help transform education.

“I want to congratulate GEMS Legacy School and Shining Star International School for making the Top 10 shortlists for the inaugural World’s Best School Prizes. Educators all over the world will now be able to learn from the examples of these outstanding UAE schools.”

Peter Lacy, Global Sustainability Services Lead and Chief Responsibility Officer at Accenture, said:

“Accenture is proud to partner with T4 Education on the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, which celebrates schools’ incredible efforts to empower the next generation to harness new technologies and innovative practices that tackle the global sustainability issues that impact us all. Through this prize, we aim to recognize the tools and techniques nurtured by schools and share them with a broad audience, enabling others to replicate their work and multiply the impact at speed and scale.” 

Madge Thomas, Head of Corporate Sustainability at American Express, said:

“We are pleased to recognize students and educators who are taking action to protect the environment and their futures. As we at American Express work to advance climate solutions, we will continue to support programs and partnerships like this one to help build more climate resilient and equitable communities.”

About the schools:

GEMS Legacy School, a private K-12 school in Dubai, UAE, was the first school in the world to have every teacher recognised as a UN CC: Learn climate change ambassador and the only school  that was represented and recognised for its initiatives at COP 25 and COP 26.. For the past three decades, the school has made strides to build a reputation as an environmentally conscious organisation and weave climate-focused classes into its curriculum.

The school’s staff champion numerous initiatives to support a sustainable planet. Their ‘Plant a Legacy’ campaign works with 42 countries to plant trees to restore deforested areas; each year more than 18,000 trees are planted. The school placed E-waste bins around campus in a bid to encourage students and families to recycle E-waste. It also has an in-house garden patch where students can appreciate working in a green, open space and grow vegetables.

GLS is growing its global humanitarian efforts in sustainability through collaborations with other schools in the form of events and projects like School Conference of Parties Exposition (SCOPE) and GEMS Global Ambassadors’ Society (GGA).

A few of the initiatives undertaken under SCOPE and GGA include: Global Twinning Projects: a focus on networking with schools and organisations in more than 10 countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals; Sustainable Recipes: a focus on creating, publishing, marketing and influencing recipes and eating habits with zero waste at its core; and Plogging: a focus on combining exercise and picking up litter to clean up beaches and open spaces.

GEMS Legacy School also collaborates with students from sister schools in the UAE, India, Australia and the UK on a project called the ‘The Climate Diaries,’ a series of climate stories, illustrations and thoughts on climate change written for children around the world.

Shining Star International School, an independent institution in Abu Dhabi, UAE, has cultivated an environment in which its students are trained to be highly resilient to all forms of mental stress and has been recognised as one of the best schools in Abu Dhabi by Which School Advisor.

Students’ lives are the heart of the school’s work and the school is dedicated to helping them build a future for themselves after they graduate. For this, the school recognises that academic instruction alone is not enough and that outside their work they are likely to face numerous mental and emotional stresses and strains in their lives.

The school set out to strengthen its students’ resilience through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), with a mental training programme that sought to instil the values of “Gratitude, Positivity, Resilience, Grit and Tolerance”. Alongside traditional studies, teachers are trained to construct their lessons to create situations where students learn to handle pressure. Teachers were trained on how to create challenging situations to

develop emotional control on inner negativity within the students while performing team

work. Usually, one lesson is entirely focused on the Gratitude concept itself, where students are taught to be grateful for what they have in comparison with those less fortunate, and students take modules in moral science and philosophy.  This is then reinforced with reflection sessions, journal writing and assemblies that celebrate students’ contributions and achievements.

Next steps:

The Top 3 finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes – for Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity, and Supporting Healthy Lives – will be announced later this year. After a public advisory vote, the winner of each Prize will be chosen based on rigorous criteria by a Judging Academy comprising distinguished leaders all across the globe including academics, educators, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and the private sector.

The winners will be announced in October 2022 at World Education Week. A prize of US$250,000 will be equally shared among the winners of the five Prizes, with each receiving an award of US$50,000.

All 50 shortlisted schools across the five Prizes will share their best practices through toolkits that showcase their “secret sauce” to innovative approaches and step-by-step instructions on how others can replicate their methods to help improve education everywhere.

ABOUT T4 EDUCATION:

We believe every child everywhere deserves a good education. We are building the world’s largest community of teachers and schools to achieve this. Together. Our digital media platform provides opportunities for educators to network, collaborate, share good practices, and support each other’s efforts to improve learning. We work to amplify teachers’ voices because the world we want to see will only be built by listening to those at the heart of education.