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UAE urban planning council takes Estidama policies to schools

The Urban Planning Council has unveiled its Estidama school course to foster an interest in sustainability among children.

ABU DHABI // The Urban Planning Council has unveiled its Estidama school course to foster an interest in sustainability among children.

The council has chosen six schools for the lessons but plans to include more next year, Mohammed Al Khadar, executive director for development review and Estidama at the planning council, said yesterday.

A number of children involved in the programme were made available to talk to the media at a UPC stand at this week's World Future Energy Summit.

The Estidama school programme was developed with the six Aldar Academies schools, with The Pearl Primary School playing a major role in developing content.

The children will be taught the importance of sustainability using Estidama's initiatives as examples, and will form junior think tanks.

An inter-school competition to design a small community will be run during the year so children can put their lessons and ideas into practice.

"I understand what Estidama means," said Marwan Zaid, 7, a pupil at The Pearl.

"It means sustainability and it's related to preserving the environment. So we need to help save the environment."

He said he used the different rubbish bins in front of his home for recycling.

"I dump papers, plastic and Pepsi cans in the green, and the black for others," Marwan said.

Other students were also aware of the effects their daily actions can have.

"We turn off the classroom lights whenever we leave the room," said Hugo John, 8.

Sen-Lea Locke-Withojit, 9, said his family left the windows open in winter, instead of using air conditioning.

The UPC wants children to understand how sustainable planning can design vibrant, exciting and environmentally friendly places to live.

Mr Al Khadar said awareness and education were the driving factors behind behavioural change.

"Children will play a pivotal role in ensuring that Estidama gradually and positively impacts our environment," he said.

There are five educational modules to engage students, including mobility, housing and park areas.

The spirit of Estidama was summed up by Megan McFadden, 4.

"We don't have a clothes drier as it uses too much energy," Megan said.

"The sun does it for us."

anwar@thenational.ae

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