DUBAI // Teachers and students at Al Athbaa Girls School have turned their playground into a classroom with a little bit of imagination and a few hundred old tyres.
Everything in the outdoor class – from the chairs and tables to the plant pots, shelves, bins and frames for the whiteboard and posters – is made out of rubber from 500 used tyres donated by Dubai Municipality.
It is an unusual setting for learning but the children love it, with pupils who do good work in class rewarded with a few minutes’ playtime on the swings and basketball hoops.
The principal, Aisha Nasrallah, said the hard work of creating the outdoor learning area was paying off because the children’s performance had dramatically improved.
“The reward principle that we use in our outdoor classes has proven to be a great learning incentive for the children,” she said.
“Some students have difficulties with maths, especially the multiplication table, and some have problems completing their homework.
“With this teaching system these students are improving so much that we think these issues will be solved by the end of the year.”
A team of teachers and pupils created the outdoor classroom during the recent end-of-term break.
“As a school we have limited resources, so we are very grateful for the time and effort that the team spent to complete the project, as well as the donations of paints from parents and, of course, Dubai Municipality for the tyres they gave us.”
The municipality can certainly spare the rubber, its tyre dump receives up to 2,000 a week.
Used tyres are notoriously difficult to get rid off. They are tough to recycle because of their durable design while the rubber is flammable.
“This is an excellent way to feed children’s imaginations and their ingenuity, while at the same time nurturing a sense of conservation and environmental responsibility at a young age,” said Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of the municipality’s waste management department.
He praised the school for adopting recycling and environmental conservation as part of its curriculum.
“Children’s minds are fresh and unencumbered by the stresses that fill adult minds, that makes them excellent at coming up with ideas, which can often surprise you,” Mr Saifaie said.
He added that “children are sometimes a great example to their parents. They can embarrass them when they see them being wasteful or doing something wrong”.
The new classroom will be submitted in Dubai Municipality’s annual Inventions from Scrap competition, which awards the most innovative reuse of scrap material.