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Sustainability should be part of the school curriculum—and this is why

By Localiiz Branded | 30 June 2022

Header image courtesy of Hong Kong International School

At first glance, “sustainability” may seem quite a daunting topic to introduce to young minds, but it’s precisely because the topic shows a serious and far-reaching scope of impact that educational institutions should be priming students on the issue from the start.

With a vibrant academic patchwork that delves into sustainability through in-classroom studies as well as real-life affairs, Hong Kong International School promotes interdisciplinary learning to shape new experiences. Believing that “learning should not happen in a vacuum,” its schooling system is blazing a trail towards an eco-conscious education for the future, demonstrating why sustainability should be part of the school curriculum.

As one of the most pressing challenges faced by communities around the globe today, it is crucial that the future generation becomes acquainted with the issue of climate change to better prepare themselves for what comes next. Sustainability-minded schooling empowers students to reflect critically on their existing perspectives and to make informed choices moving forward that can lead to effective and applicable solutions.

Embedding the thread of sustainability throughout different subjects, HKIS incorporates a “green” curriculum into its primary programme all the way through to high school.

Starting from the formative years, the upper primary students are offered a programme that enhances their perception of the world around us through purposeful units, traversing through sciences and literacy skills. In these units, the grave environmental impact of our everyday choices is made tangible, facilitating a better understanding amongst students regarding the origins of our energy sources and what it takes to fuel consumption.

Streamlining into middle school, sustainability in academia comes in the form of research, analyses, and future-oriented discussions. Interactive units in seventh-grade English language arts and sixth-grade social studies are just some examples of intermediary investigations into how we, as a community, can affect the ecosystem around us, and how our relationship with climate change has developed over the years.

For high school students, the programme is structure to give way for realisable innovation. Students of the honours biology class are tasked with taking an actual issue that’s relevant to Hong Kong or Southeast Asia, and crafting an actionable plan with regards to sustainability goals. Students of earth and space science classes can flex their design muscles to lay down blueprints for an eco-home in various climates and contexts.

Beyond schooling, students who want to explore sustainability in their higher education or careers can take inspiration from their seniors that have interned at Farmacy Hong Kong, a tech company focusing on eco-conscious living tools. During the placement, there were plenty of hands-on opportunities for scientific research in the up-and-coming arena of hydroponic tech, as well as experimental data gathering and analytics in plant production.

Extending beyond the classroom, students are encouraged to uphold sustainability in light of other aspects in their lives, turning the practice into an all-rounded habit. For the upper primary cohort, a recent extra-curricular multimedia project led by Laura Goodchild is an example of bringing together essential skills like writing and forming critical opinions with a well-thought-out science unit that dives into the topic of energy.

Combining innovative teaching with hands-on guidance and quality materials, instructors develop various programmes that will inspire and provide children with successful learning experiences. Presenting their proposed solutions to the Hong Kong government, the fourth-grade students were taught to exhibit their ideas with supporting research-based claims and evidence on renewable and non-renewable sources to the Hong Kong Energy Bureau via persuasive letters. On top of that, the group also banded together to collaborate on the Green Energy HK podcast, sharing their findings to the public.

Demonstrating that sustainability is at the heart of its institution, HKIS supports the environmental development of its community to work towards a better future. It goes to show that, to equip students with the power to think about their responsibility in impacting the world around them, and to then utilise their innovation and skills to make concrete changes, sustainability in early learning is key.

Hong Kong International School

Hong Kong International School is an eminent private co-educational college preparatory school for students from reception one (pre-kindergarten) to twelfth grade. Following an American-style curriculum, the programmes offer opportunities to learn through collaboration, creativity, challenges, and even opportunities outside the classroom. A place for students to explore their potential, the school provides an environment and community dedicated to paving the path for each individual to reach their best self.

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