Catch them young: School climate education key for sustainable development

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With COP26, young influencers from all over the world have been sharing their views on social media and reporting abundance, climate change and its impacts have never been the focus of so many people. And more and more often, and it’s really exciting, we see awareness and participation of young people from all over the world.

In India, traditional knowledge, including knowledge about nature, has been passed down in communities from generation to generation. Today we see a clear and strong relationship between education and climate change awareness! Young people and students are the future of our countries and communities, and all of their education shapes their views and sense of responsibility for climate action and responsible lifestyles.

In terms of formal education, India has pursued an active environmental education policy since Supreme Court judgment 2003 outline a possible way forward; to educate every young Indian about the environment, resilience and the real risks of climate change. There is a strong case for including climate change education (CCE) in schools as it acts as a positive impetus for India’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a key priority at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 held earlier. this November.

In India, we are seeing an increase in the number of youth climate organizations calling for more action on climate change, climate change education and climate justice. Community-based youth movements forge strong links with school clubs to stimulate grassroots mobilization, including learning about climate change and resilience.

The British Council – with a long history of combating climate change through art, education and the English language – bases this very idea in its Climate Connection program. The Climate Connection empowers youth, policy makers, artists, teachers, students, and business leaders and the public through its global network to find creative and collaborative solutions to common climate change challenges.

The British Council recently conducted a global survey for its Global Youth Letter, collected in 23 countries. The survey found that 78% of young Indians (18 to 25 years old) do feel ready to take action on the challenges posed by climate change, such as loss of forest cover, rising temperatures, uneven rainfall and loss of biodiversity.

It has drawn the attention of thousands of young people around the world who are active on climate change issues and once again draw attention to young people who are at the center of global collaborative approaches. The purpose of the survey and the Global Youth Letter was to create a platform for young voices around the world to present their views to policymakers at COP26.

The survey provides a ray of hope for the future. It underlines the intention of young people from both urban and non-urban families – in India and around the world – to seek solutions to the climate crisis. It also highlights the potential of social media – a tool this generation is well versed in – as a means of raising awareness and motivating citizens around the world; keep abreast of climate change 24×7. Young people – future agents of change – really need the right support and greater access to learning and skills development in order for them to intend to lead to successful action.

In terms of education and continuing education, innovative experiences can be planned as part of extracurricular activities to balance them with the formal school curriculum. It would be helpful if educators and curriculum developers could find ways to better integrate CCE with the social sciences. As with all subjects, classroom learning becomes more effective when we clearly understand the important role teachers play and provide them with the right learning tools and materials.

Our experience has shown that when teachers have access to the right teaching tools for the right student demographic, students truly understand the challenges of climate change and can even be much better at navigating the dangers of environmental alarm. Using tools such as podcasts, videos, and even free university-level MOOCs created by global universities such as the University of Edinburgh, educators and educators can integrate climate change topics into existing curricula and offer customized lesson plans with far greater success.

In India, there is an opportunity to assess the approach to CCE in schools – not only in metropolitan areas, but also in an extensive network of schools outside of the cities of Level 1 and 2. Better understanding and awareness is achieved when students participate in topics related to sustainability and the environment. real-life pilot projects where they can learn through action and project-based decision making. This approach makes these important topics more real, students are more engaged and keeps children and students in the classroom.

A hybrid model in which art, drama, documentaries and climate change workshops could be part of the formal curriculum alongside classroom subjects.

The key, then, should be to explore innovative and collaborative learning methods that create the right impulses and empathy, as well as a sense of curiosity, excitement and critical thinking in children in what can then truly be a transformative journey towards understanding the real dangers of climate change and the role they play. how the future of the country can play in preventing the climate crisis.

One way could be an approach that makes climate change education, such as science, a much more fun and collaborative experience for young people. The popular documentary David Attenborough: Life on Our Planet 3 is a great example of educating young audiences through moving stories across digital media such as audiobooks and Netflix.

In this highly engrossing and engaging documentary, legendary English TV presenter, naturalist and writer Sir David Attenborough, who was also the UK’s Public Defender at COP26, draws on 60 years of track record of the planet’s biodiversity to highlight the importance of the choices we make today. , and offering hope when he says, “Life goes on and if we make the right choices, the ruins could grow again.”

(This article was written by Barbara Wickham, British Council Director for India, British Council. The views expressed here are personal.)



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