ECO-Schools: an Initiative of UNESCO and Doha Bank - World Teachers Day -
“Today, on World Teachers’ Day, we pay homage to all teachers for their pivotal role in shaping children’s lives and for their critical contribution to the social, economic and intellectual development of nations. Teachers are change agents, providing the impetus for the emergence of educated communities”, begins the joint message by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, Juan Somavio, ILO Director-General, and Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary of Education International.
UNESCO and Doha Bank celebrate World Teachers’ Day by reflecting on 18 months of joint preparatory work aiming at empowering the Arab Youth to actively contribute to the creative enhancement of our common environment.
UNESCO and Doha Bank have taken significant steps towards the establishment of ECO-Schools in Qatar, which intends to run for a trial period of one year with the participation of approximately 50 schools in Qatar. The success will be measured and documented, and, if feasible, the program will be made open for all schools to participate voluntarily based on their own individual ideas and creativity.
The participating ECO-Schools will be encouraged to demonstrate good environmental practices, and to improve their environmental foot-print on an annual basis. This can be done via a multitude of completely different ideas, ranging from photographic contests, over theatre plays, to the technical installation of environmentally friendly devices aiming at improved behaviour, more awareness, and the better management of water, energy, and waste-management in schools.
It matters that the schools decide to participate based on the creativity of the students, and that they measure their success. UNESCO and Doha Bank embarked on their joint initiative inspired by a teacher from the Doha English Speaking School, Mr. Steve Wilkinson, who brought forward the idea to them.
“We aim to officially launch the initiative before the end of this year, and we anticipate about 50 schools to participate in the first test-round. After that we will evaluate the initial results with our partners and the UNESCO National Commission in Qatar, and decide if and how to continue. We are very excited about this innovative and voluntary network of schools, with a perspective to export the idea into other countries”, says Dr. Hamed Al-Hammami, UNESCO Representative in the Arab States of the Gulf, and Director of the UNESCO Office in Doha.
“Without the strong strategic partnership with Doha Bank, which we cemented during the Doha Green Conference in December 2009, we would not have been able to develop this highly important activity,” he continues, “which is a true element for the empowerment of the Youth. This is an active contribution of UNESCO in partnership with Doha Bank to the International Year of Youth, which takes place from August 2010 to August 2011”.
Mr. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank Group, remarks: “We are very happy about our strong partnership with UNESCO. It is our privilege to work with this Inter-Governmental-Organization, one of the United Nations think-tanks, which allows for our joint projects to be results-based, carefully and professionally prepared, tested, and the achievements will be measurable. Doha Bank is fully committed to this long-term partnership, and we are also looking forward to contribute an Arabic version of the Global Map and explanatory text of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, and an Arabic version of the Travelling Exhibition of the International Year of Biodiversity.”
“We expect simple and realistic projects, catalysed by teachers and their students as change agents, generating visible and noticeable impact towards our educated and environmentally friendly society. I have no doubt that the ECO-Schools project will soon function as a platform that allows for teachers and school students to actively contribute to the socio-environmental improvement and intellectual development of our human society in Qatar,” Mr. Seetharaman added.