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What you need to know:

  • School ends but used books, uniforms aren’t wasted at this school.

The academic year has just concluded for many schools in the UAE. The culmination of the school year entails thousands of discarded textbooks as students move on to the next year groups as well as uniform items, which they have outgrown. Many of these items are in great condition and are perfect to be reused instead of ending up in recycling bins or worse, trash cans.

‘Winshares’, a sharing initiative set up by students at The Winchester School, Jebel Ali aims to promote the passing on of old textbooks and uniforms within the school community. By organising a school wide textbooks and uniforms sharing campaign towards the end of the academic session, Winshares has been successful in passing on approximately 3000 gently used textbooks and 650 uniform items in this academic session. These items will be reused by students in the next academic session starting September.

Initiative going strong from two years

This initiative is in its second year of operation. In the last academic session, approximately 2600 textbooks and 600 uniform items were shared through the Winshares platform. The group comprises of 45 students from across the school - from ages six to 18. In the past two years, it has evolved as the pivotal sharing platform of the school community.

The basic idea behind Winshares is propagating environmental sustainability, prolonging the lifespan of resources as well as to instil a culture of sharing within our school community consisting of more than 3000 families.

School year ends, books and uniforms given purpose

So, this is how it worked - as the exams concluded and we entered the last month of the academic session, a detailed and comprehensive circular was sent to parents inviting them to pass on the books and uniforms which were still in good condition. The donated items had to be in good condition as well as neatly packed and labelled. We also availed the opportunity by spreading awareness about environmental facts like deforestation and statistics related to natural resources which are depleted to manufacture new books and uniforms.

From classroom to classroom

The Winshares team members went around classroom to classroom spreading awareness about the campaign as to collect the donated items. We received an overwhelming response from the school community and books and uniform items were passed on in great numbers. We then devoted countless hours sorting, labelling and cataloguing these items. Following this, we welcomed the community members to our designated room and see if they could find useful items for themselves. We maintained proper logs which helped us calculate the number of books and uniforms we shared as well as identify which year groups were most proactive in sharing and which areas will need more attention next year. The entire exercise helped us further strengthen our skills of collaboration, task-assignment, data analysing, strategy development as well as enhance our communication skills.

Achievements

• It has ensured reuse of resources. The more we reuse, the lesser the strain on our recycling facilities and lessen the burden on our planet.

• The culture of sharing in our school has got strengthened. Social cohesion is one of the prime goals of UAE National Agenda 2021 and through this community binding initiative, we’ve been able to pay a humble tribute to that vision.

• We have been able to bring about a monumental shift in the perspective of people - that reusing items has as much to do with sustainability as it does with affordability.

• Last but definitely not the least, the initiative has been successful in providing a common ground for like-minded students from all over the school to collaborate and unite to work together towards a common goal. These students have been able to imbibe several life skills and learning beyond the curriculum.

Principal comments

As a team we are extremely grateful to our principal and CEO, Meenakshi Dahiya, for providing us with invaluable guidance to make this noble initiative a success. The project is of a big magnitude with a huge influx of items. The school staff ensured that we had all the assistance we needed at every step of this journey.

“We are super impressed by this exceptional and inspirational initiative by our student Mishal Faraz who leads this with a team of Winshares students. The initiative is actively supported and encouraged by our very active set of parent representatives, senior leadership team, teachers and staff hence it’s a perfect collaborative endeavour. This exemplary initiative has helped us promote a culture of sharing and further embedded the commitment to environmental sustainability and nurturing and encouraging reading,” said Dahiya.

— The reader is a pupil based in Dubai.

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