Developing the Right Values

The GEMS Jewels of Kindness initiative has been developed to encourage empathetic qualities in students.

A values-led education is paramount in today’s schools, encouraging students to grow and develop their personal and interpersonal qualities. A variety of initiatives designed to instil values in students have been rolled out across GEMS Education schools, with teachers, students, and parents all actively involved in special values-themed assemblies, PSHE lessons, wellbeing programmes, learning for Life programmes and more. At the same time, according to experts such as Michele Borba, author of Building Moral Intelligence and internationally acclaimed expert and author on children, teens, parenting, bullying, and moral development, schools should also partner with parents, because children learn best when there is close collaboration between home and school on similar core values. In 2018, GEMS enlisted the help of Borba to further that goal.

GEMS Jewels of Kindness
The importance of kindness, respect, empathy, helpfulness and compassion is taught and promoted within all GEMS schools, and these qualities are intended to extend beyond the school environment and continue to be developed and reflected at home. To that end, the GEMS Jewels of Kindness initiative is a means of encouraging children to be kind to their parents, grandparents and siblings, and in turn society as a whole. Rolled out across all GEMS schools, the programme is also a celebration of all the good deeds and acts of kindness being carried out by GEMS students. The programme connects seamlessly with the UAE’s Moral Education curriculum introduced in 2017 as well as the various Year of Tolerance 2019 initiatives underway. Results so far suggest the initiative is working. Data from KHDA’s 2019 school inspections show that the biggest movement among parameters across all GEMS schools was Personal Social Development (PSD). It is therefore clear that the programme is making a significant impact in GEMS schools, as well as supporting inspection ratings. PSD went up by the largest number of parameters on average in 2019, up 5.3 (11 per cent improvement across all schools), with PSD is on average ‘Very Good’ across all GEMS schools.

Freire Family gives back
GEMS Wellington Academy — Al Khail (WEK) students Gabriel, Rafael and Eva Freire, along with their parents, travelled to Bangladesh to visit the four children that they have been sponsoring for the past three years. They arrived with their parents, friends, and 400kg of luggage full of gifts and donations. They spent three days in Bangladesh and organised several different activities, including: sports days, musical chair competitions, paper plane races, football tournaments, and cricket matches. The family met a 17-year old boy called Osman who makes plastic pouches from recyclable material in his spare time to sell and make money for his family. In support, the Freire family bought 60 pouches from Osman and promised him they would sell these to people in Dubai and share his story. Gabriel and his siblings requested permission to sell these at WEK and the management team agreed. The Freire family has been named WEK’s first GEMS Jewels of Kindness winners.

Stuff the Bus with “Kindness”
In May, school transport provider STS centred its 2019 Ramadan campaign on bringing together UAE students from different parts of the world. In line with the UAE Year of Tolerance, each element of this month-long event was intended to encourage and highlight the importance of kindness, unity and helping those in need. The theme of the Stuff the Bus with Kindness campaign had students take a pledge to be a kindness hero by collecting items for donation and by performing good deeds. One hundred students from 100 different nationalities at GEMS Founders School — Dubai were encouraged to adopt an act of kindness which they wrote down on a leaf. Once the STS school bus was stuffed with all of these ‘kindness leaves’, the students then formed the UAE Year of Tolerance logo on a three metre by three metre canvas which travelled with the bus throughout the month. By the end of the month, the bus travelled to over 82 schools to collect school items and supplies to be donated to Emirates Red Crescent.