TwoinspirationalUAE schools have been named in the Top 10 shortlists for the $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes. The five World’s Best School Prizes, founded last year by T4 Education in collaboration with Accenture, American Express, Yayasan Hasanah, and the Lemann Foundation, are the world’s most prestigious education prizes.
Mamoura British Academy, an independent international school in Abu Dhabi, UAE, which is empowering its students and transforming communities through its relentless pursuit of sustainability, has been named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action.
Meanwhile, GEMS Modern Academy, an independent international school in Dubai, UAE, which is shaping the future of education and empowering students to thrive in an ever-evolving world, has been named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation.
The five World’s Best School Prizes – for Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity, and Supporting Healthy Lives – celebrate schools everywhere for their pivotal role in developing the next generation of learners and their enormous contribution to society’s progress, especially in the wake of COVID. The Prizes were established to share the best practices of schools that are transforming the lives of students and making a real difference to their communities.
Vikas Pota, Founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, said: “The schools shortlisted for the World’s Best School Prizes, no matter where they can be found or what they teach, all have one thing in common. They all have a strong school culture. Their leaders know how to attract and motivate exceptional educators, inspire change, and build excellent teaching and learning environments.
“I must congratulate Mamoura British Academy and GEMS Modern Academy on being named in the Top 10 shortlists for the World’s Best School Prizes 2023. Schools across the globe will learn from the story of these trailblazing UAE institutions and the culture they have cultivated.”
Jill Huntley, Managing Director – Global Corporate Citizenship, at Accenture, said:“Congratulations to Mamoura British Academy on being named in the Top 10 shortlist for the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action 2023. Teachers everywhere will be inspired by the example of this outstanding UAE school, whose inspirational work shows the path to a better tomorrow.”
Mamoura British Academy named in Top 10 shortlist for World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action
“Accenture is proud to collaborate 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.”
About the schools:
Mamoura British Academy, an independent international school in Abu Dhabi, UAE, part of Aldar Education, is leading the world on sustainable action for a better future just as the global spotlight falls on the UAE as the host of COP28 this year. Uniquely, its work is led almost entirely by a dedicated team of student ambassadors from ages 3 – 18, tirelessly pursuing the Global Goals and the outcomes of the One Young World Summit and helping the school achieve Eco Green flag status.
Mamoura British Academy’s environmental efforts began with simple recycling projects before growing organically over the years. From its ‘Pile It Up Challenge’ and ‘Simply Bottles’ to encourage responsible plastic use, it went on to weave sustainable practices through the curriculum and engage students through regular House competitions aimed at reducing individual and collective carbon footprints, further allowing students to showcase their creativity.
Next, the school began to incorporate sustainable food practices through aeroponic gardens – a method of growing plants without soil – where students take charge of crop cycles, with all the food grown either used in the school kitchen or shared with staff, students, and visitors to reduce food waste.
Strategic partnerships with Madar Farms and Grazia Farms have supported curriculum enhancement and given the school access to invaluable resources, such as expert knowledge, cutting-edge techniques, and hands-on experiences in sustainable food production and consumption.
It launched a school retrofit in which students prioritised energy reduction through the installation of light motion detectors in each classroom, while it has installed Eshara water fountains which take moisture from the air to convert into drinking water in order to limit water waste. Meanwhile, the school engages in community cleanups in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Environmental Agency and other collaborations with The Alliance for Sustainable Schools. During virtual learning, students created, developed and promoted various crafts using recycled materials, and the school’s decorations for Eid are created from recycled products.
If Mamoura British Academy wins the World’s Best School Prize for Environmental Action, its students are keen to create a desert/forest school. With the naturally stunning desert landscape of the UAE, and with the forest school principles in mind, a desert school can be set up to be calm and purposeful, using natural materials, and providing a hands-on learning experience encouraging children to explore, ask questions and investigate the harmony between people and nature.
GEMS Modern Academy, an independent international school in Dubai, UAE, is shaping the future of education and empowering students to thrive in an ever-evolving world. Having integrated technology and entrepreneurship into its curriculum, the school has seen a 37 per cent year-on-year rise in student participation as well as national and international collaborations with the likes of DFC, SAP, and Microsoft.
Recognising the need to prepare students for an uncertain future, GEMS Modern Academy introduced a number of technological innovations into its curriculum and practices as early as 2001, to include the region’s first online report card system, developed entirely by students and teachers. The school even has a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programme, through which students from Grade 2 onwards bring their own learning devices.
In 2015-16, after sending teachers to Carnegie Mellon University for training in STEAM and technology integration, the school incorporated the disciplines into classrooms. Also, after partnering with Harvard Project Zero, the school developed thinking routines and a multidisciplinary approach towards innovation, known as the futures curriculum method, which has been adopted by several other schools.
GEMS Modern Academy named in Top 10 shortlist for World’s Best School Prize for Innovation
Altogether, this has led to an entrepreneurial mindset that the school deliberately fosters. Starting in primary school with ‘Unit of Inquiry’ projects and moving on to ‘Challenge-Based Learning’ in middle school as well as ‘Prism Project’ and ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme’ in senior school, GEMS Modern Academy provides what it calls a scaffolded strategy for developing critical thinking, problem-solving, design thinking and a growth mindset.
Along those lines, the school has collaborated with Dubai SME since 2008 on entrepreneurship competitions and has even become a certified Hamdan Incubation Center, raising AED 85,000 to bring student projects to market.
Entrepreneurial success does not rely on technological innovation alone. The traditional student leadership model is now a holacracy-inspired leadership model, distributing authority and decision-making, empowering the Student and Innovation Councils. These student-led initiatives have gone on to create a community that constantly explores emerging technologies like blockchain, AI, and robotics, and their impact on learning, pedagogy, and systems development.
The Top 3 finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes will be announced in September 2023, followed by the winners in October. The winner of each Prize will be chosen based on rigorous criteria by a Judging Academy comprising distinguished leaders across the globe including academics, educators, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and the private sector.
A prize of USD 250,000 will be equally shared among the winners of the five Prizes, with each receiving an award of USD 50,000.
All 50 shortlisted schools will be invited to share their best practices through events on the T4 Communities app or School Transformation 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.