The award-winning Annual Enviro-Spellathon is an educational programme targeting school students in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi aged 4 to 13 years and aims to increase their environmental awareness and to instil in them environmentally friendly behaviour. EAD’s Environment Education team works with designated school coordinators to distribute a set of booklets containing unique information about the UAE’s environment to all student participants. The students are then asked to study these tailor-made illustrative and educational booklets before taking a graded test in English and/or Arabic.
Over the years, the Enviro-Spellathon has witnessed a surge in participation. In its first year in 2001, the programme attracted 172 schools and nearly 45,000 students. In its tenth year this annum, the programme saw participation from 229 government schools and 162 private schools, attracting a total of 391 schools and 153,176 students – an increase of 240% since its inception in 2001. To date, EAD has reached out to 92.6% of schools that are eligible to run the programme.
This year, 65,246 students received an ‘Excellent’ grade i.e. scoring 80% and above, qualifying them for an award. The awards consist of a unique set of books that are designed for certain age groups. 41,612 students from Junior to level 3 will receive The Wonders of the UAE: Get to know us to save us! colouring book. It highlights some of the lesser – talked about – but fascinating – species of UAE and their strange habits such as the Sea horse and how the males give birth versus the females, the Sting ray with its poisonous tail, the Hedgehog and its curling behaviour etc. The book carries educational messages as well as creative caricatures about the creatures and their peculiar habits.
For the 23,634 children from levels 4 to 6, they will receive a comic book about electronic waste (e-waste) which covers the different kinds of e-waste and its impacts on human health, in addition to motivational messages on how to use electronic games and devices wisely. The story is a narrative of a teacher and classroom situation where kids go to the future and see what happens as a result of e-waste.
“Our initiatives are designed to raise awareness on priority environmental issues, as we believe knowledge leads to action. The main goal of such a programme is to help today’s generation become the environmental leaders of tomorrow so that they play an active role in the preservation of our heritage. Thanks to this programme, thousands of teachers and parents have already reported a welcome transformation in their students’ values and behaviour,” said Eduardo Gon alves, Director of Environment Awareness Sector, EAD.
“The participation surge we’ve witnessed over the years comes as a result of the younger generation’s interest in their environment. Students are scoring higher which shows that they are engaged and willing to put in the effort to learn more and demonstrate their knowledge on our diverse biodiversity,” Gon alves added.
The Enviro-Spellathon programme is sponsored by Shell, and is implemented by EAD with support from the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with World Wide Fund for Nature Foundation (EWS-WWF) and the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).
Ms. Suheir Mahmoud, Enviro-Spellathon Coordinator for Al Nashe As Saleh Private School in Al Ain commented: “This programme has positively encouraged our students as well as the teachers and parents to be more involved in the UAE’s environmental issues.”
For the past 15 years, EAD has been offering Abu Dhabi’s children’s schools award-winning environmental education programmes such as the Enviro-Spellathon, the Annual Environment Competition and the Sustainable Schools Initiative. EAD also develops print and online resource materials, such as Shaheen’s World (accessible via www.ead.ae), for schools to benefit from.