All over the world, more and more young people are leading environmental causes, putting their voices, skills and ideas towards making positive change. Tapping into the vast potential of Oman’s own youth population, and supported by the Ministry of Education (MoE), the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) and its partners, Veolia Oman and Emily’s Garden, came up with an idea to put students’ innovation to the test with a competition called Green Schools. In its first phase, a total of 25 schools from every governate participated, submitting an exciting range of projects that aimed to combat one of three key environmental issues; energy, waste and water.
After an unanticipated hiatus due to the pandemic, the judges have finally been able to identify the winners, with nine schools taking away titles and up to RO 1,000 in cash prizes, which will be spent on developing and maintaining the projects that range from recycling water for irrigation to monitoring energy consumption using the Internet of Things (IoT).
“The competition was a fun and engaging way for us to teach young Omanis about pertinent environmental issues, while encouraging them to transfer this knowledge to tangible activities. We’re delighted to say that the students have exceeded our expectations and have worked diligently, with great enthusiasm and a commendable positive spirit to implement their projects. Their incredible work deserves to be recognized and so we are pleased to have recently been able to convene the judging panel and review the projects completed by each of the participating schools’, said Jawaher al Ghafri, Education Coordinator at ESO.
Wadi Bani Omar School in North Al Batinah, Hafsa bint Omar School in Al Dakhiliyah and Khawla bint Thalaba School in South Al Batinah took first, second and third place respectively for their projects on energy management. Nadia al Siyabi, team supervisor at Hafsa bint Omar School, whose project focused on using IoT through smartphones to monitor energy consumption in the school, said, “The competition was hugely beneficial to the students, the wider school and the community, addressing many of the challenges associated with energy conservation including lack of awareness, lack of financial support, and the absence of specialised staff. We look forward to seeing the students implement their project, and continuing to raise awareness while exploring more ways to use modern technologies to save energy.”
Suliman bin Abbad School in North Al Batinah, Raihana School, also in North Al Batinah and Qufaifa School in North Al Sharqiyah, took the top three places for their projects on Waste Management. Adnan al Bahrani, team supervisor for Suliman bin Abbad School’s project, which found a way to recycle the grass from the school field and use it to feed the animals in local farms, said, “A big part of the students’ efforts was to garner support from the community about their project and their goals, something that they worked really hard to do. Building on their success, this competition is just the starting point for the school and we are committed to continuing to develop innovations and expand in the field of waste management, encouraging our students to find more ways to use the resources we have for the benefit of the environment and society.”
Muscat’s Al Amal School for the Deaf took first place in the Water Management category, while Al Khalil bin Shazan School in South Al Batinah and Al Hasan bin Al Haitham School in Al Dhahirah followed in second and third. “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students, not only to contribute to environmental conservation but to demonstrate to the rest of society the huge potential of those with hearing disabilities’’, said Alia al Hinai, team supervisor at Al Amal School, whose project recycled ablution water to irrigate the school garden. “This was not an easy task for the students, who had to overcome various obstacles that were totally new to them, such as analysing samples, since there is no special laboratory in the school. Yet with out-of-the-box thinking they persevered and were able to acquire the help of the Higher College of Technology to analyse the samples for them. They are excited to work on the next phase of the project and determined to continue to work on promoting sustainability in the school and community.”
Buoyant from the success of the first competition, ESO plans to re-engage with the students in the next school year. “We would like to thank our sponsors, Veolia and Emily’s Garden Grown, without whose efforts to raise funds this competition would not have been possible. We also thank the National Commission for Education, Culture and Science for their continuous support of the programme from school visits to communication with the regional directorates as well as judging. We hope that with this, and our many other youth initiatives, we continue to prove just how capable, and caring, Oman’s next generation are when it comes to the environment’’, concluded Jawaher.