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What children learn today will shape tomorrow’s world. Climate change has emerged as one of the biggest environmental challenges for humanity and this reality gives increasing urgency to the need of effective education.
Many African countries are already confronted with the threat of rapidly accelerating desertification, floods, and other hazards. Leading scientific and educational groups all over the world have expressed their support for teaching climate change in college, high school, grade school, and in informal settings. Education is the best weapon to create a response to climate change. “It helps young people understand and address the impact of global warming, encourages changes in their attitudes and behavior and helps them adapt to climate change-related trends,” affirm experts from UNESCO.
Over the next decade, it is estimated that 65% of those who will be affected by climate-related disasters will be women and children. Studies have found that many children can be extraordinarily resilient when they face a significant challenge. “Providing children with empowering and relevant education on disasters and climate change, in a child-friendly school environment can reduce their vulnerability to risk, while contributing to sustainable development for their communities,” says a report by UNICEF.
However, teaching about climate change is a challenge for many teachers. Through its teacher training program, whose aim is to engage students in their future roles as primary school teachers and community mobilizers, Humana People to People pays special attention to education in climate change in its 49 DNS schools all over the world. The program focuses on ‘learning by doing’: sharing experiences or engaging in different events such as information campaigns and interaction with school teachers and/or parents.
“At the DNS, the students have many studies and activities which are about climate change”, explains Erik Schurmann, Partnership Officer in Maputo, Mozambique. “They are also involved in vegetable production at the school where they learn and practice conservation farming. In the schools where they have an internship, teacher-students make school gardens with the children and treeplanting activities.”
Snorre Westgaard, Executive Director of Humana India, stresses the importance for a teacher to know the main issues influencing development in a country and how this affects both the children and their communities.
“A good teacher creates a good learning environment for the students, where the students encounter the realities of their society, so they can act according to their choices. Global warming and climate change will have enormous impact on the lives of people in India, and especially the poor. People will have to adapt and also put demands to their government to adopt policies for its mitigation,” concludes Westgaard.
Climate Change is the topic for the Humana Day 2014.