Posted on April 30, 2019

Green-fingered students have received awards for their schools after growing bumper crops of fruit and vegetables. The students all participated in Sahtak Awalan’s Project Greenhouse competition, which challenges schools and pupils to grow the biggest and best crops and teaches them about sustainability, and healthy lifestyles at the same time.

This year the Sahtak Awalan panel of judges awarded first place to Jawaan Bin Jassim Primary School for Boys, with Al Khor Preparatory School for Girls coming second, and Dukhan Primary Preparatory School for Girls in third place. Khalifa Al-Derham, Director of School Affairs at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, and Hassan Al-Mohamedi, Director of Public Relations and Communications at the Ministry, presented the award for first place to Mrs. Fawziya Abdullah Al-Kuwari, the principal of Jawaan Bin Jassim Primary School for Boys. The other schools to win awards were Al-Khor Preparatory  School for Girls, Dukhan Primary Preparatory Secondary School for Girls, Alkharsaa Primary School for Boys, Abdullah bin Turkey Primary School For Boys, Audio Education Complex for Boys, Ahmed Mansour Primary School for Boys, Qatar Leadership Academy, Al Markheya Primary School for Girls, and Zaynab Bint Jehesh Primary School for Girls.

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Nesreen Al-Rifai, Chief Communications Officer at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, which launched the Sahtak Awalan campaign, said: “Since Project Greenhouse was launched in 2013, we have been teaching our young people about the vital importance of sustainability, agriculture and healthy diets and encouraging them to eat the fruit and vegetables that they have grown.

“Thousands of children have now been through the scheme and everyone at Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar and Sahtak Awalan’s strategic partners - Qatar Foundation, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, and ExxonMobil - feel very proud that we have made such a difference to so many children’s lives. “We hope that all the students who have participated in Project Greenhouse this year take the lessons that they have learned about healthy lifestyles with them throughout their lives. In doing so, we can create a strong and healthy generation able to meet the challenges of Qatar National Vision 2030.”

Project Greenhouse has provided more than 130 schools across Qatar with greenhouses, plant pots, soil and seeds. The crops grown by Jawaan Bin Jassim Primary School for Boys include tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, eggplants and parsley. The children prepared the pots, planted the seeds, and watered and nurtured them as the plants grew. Project Greenhouse has allowed students to work independently and in small groups and has taught them a whole range of skills. Along with learning about healthy eating, sustainability and horticulture, the project feeds directly into classes about science and the environment.

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Teachers Fatma Al-Shumairi, Sarah Al-Naimi and Lina Saadi expressed their joy at receiving the first prize and encouraged other students to grow and eat their own organic fruit and vegetables, alongside learning about self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Student Ali Mubarak Al-Naimi said he had learned a lot from the initiative and had started growing fruit and vegetables at home. He added that he had enjoyed the whole greenhouse experience and had used some of the produce grown to prepare a salad with his schoolfriends.

Project Greenhouse has now been expanded into secondary schools under the Khayr Qatarna initiative. This has seen a variety of crops grown in large scale greenhouses which have been given the ‘Premium Produce’ designation by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment. The crops are then distributed to the community through local supermarkets, with all profits being reinvested in the scheme. The aim of the scheme is to support national sustainability and food security, while teaching older students valuable lessons about economics, agriculture and logistics.

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