Pali Nahal, Head of Primary, Uptown School, Dubai
Role of the school: Highly effective partnerships between school and home can contribute widely to children understanding the importance of values, not only at home but also within a school setting where there would be more children than at home.
The earlier, the better: For younger children, play-based learning is a huge part of demonstrating skills such as sharing and giving, and opportunities are provided for students to work in groups for a more collaborative approach.
At Uptown, students across the school have recently participated in the shoe box appeal, filling boxes with basic stationery and games for children in other parts of the world.
Compassion is a practical value: There should be opportunities for children within the curriculum for theory and practical experiences. Being an IB school, the learner profile is at the heart of everything we do, and these are instilled in our students from a very early age. From the ten learner profile attributes, caring and being balanced, link specifically to the values of sharing and giving. Adults and students in school demonstrate these attributes on a regular basis as it is instilled within all aspects of the curriculum.
What we do: At Uptown, there are many events through the year where we work in partnership with parents to hold events with the theme of giving and sharing. These include 100 days of school in Grade 1 where students bring in food and share with other families as well as a Ramadan iftar for the school and local community.
The most recent ‘Ramadan Box Appeal’ has been launched in the school community with specific emphasis on giving and sharing.
In the curriculum, in the unit on Water, students learn about the importance of drinking water as well as researching water systems within a global context and look at others who may be less privileged to access water. This inspires students to launch projects linked to sharing and giving. Some students have facilitated giving and sharing themed projects such as raising money for adults within the school community who may be less privileged.
Teresa Varman, Principal, GEMS Millennium School, Sharjah
Role of the school: It’s beyond debate: both the school and the home play an equally important role in teaching children to share, care and give back generously. The messages must be taught consistently and even more importantly, practiced.
Schools must provide practical platforms: Values cannot be taught through preaching; they must be ‘lived’, and the process must begin well before they enter school, at babyhood.
With very young children, it starts with ‘emotion coaching’ and simple actions like sharing toys, taking turns and playing cooperatively. Older students benefit from hands-on, practical experiences and exposure – field trips, camps, volunteering with NGOs and the like.
Impact of hands-on, practical experiences on children, is unmatched: Such experiences can be life-changing. Students who volunteer to build schools in under-developed places, teach the under-privileged, regularly visit the aged and sick or work to better the lives of refugee children return as changed people. They are deeply aware and genuinely grateful for what they have.
What we do: Our students have designed and built portable solar refrigerators that keep food and water cool and fresh for 10 to 12 hours, and solar–operated fans fitted on caps for distribution at labour camps. To fund this initiative, they used the Dh10,000 in prize money they received from winning the Year of Zayed Competition organised by GEMS as well as the Dh5,000 they won at the Dubai Vision Challenge organised by the Ministry of Education.
The Young Entrepreneurs Challenge organised by our school as part of the Manzil Carnival (Manzil is a centre for special needs children in Sharjah) is another example of encouraging students to care and share. Students across the school created handcrafted items and set up stalls to sell their creations. The stalls were managed by students, the caveat being that at least one should be a student with special needs. Other schools were invited to join hands and it was heartening that 13 schools participated. Proceeds from the Carnival were donated to Dr Ayesha Saeed Husaini, the Founder and Director of Manzil Centre for Children with Special Needs in Sharjah.