Pacific trainers and educators introduced to Climate Change Education Inside and Outside the Classroom

Climate change education is particularly relevant in Small Island Developing States that are on the frontlines of its impacts. Through a series of workshops, UNESCO has been working with educators and trainers to enable them to develop hands on Education for Sustainable Development programmes, with the proactive “measure, analyse, share and take action” (MAST) approach. The latest “Climate Change Education Inside and Outside the Classroom” workshop took place in Poindimié, New Caledonia, on 27-30 October 2014, with the support of the North Province of New Caledonia.

It was attended by 28 primary, secondary and tertiary level teachers, school principals, teacher trainers, educators and curriculum developers from ministries of education, and community educators from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), mainly from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific Ocean.

The course focused on stimulating and supporting the integration of climate change education for sustainable development (ESD) approaches in education courses, along with cross-curricula classroom practice and non-formal learning programmes. The course also emphasized the importance of supporting educators to take action, starting locally with targeted activities aiming to adapt to the ongoing effects of climate change.

Through this workshop, educators from the Pacific region were introduced to the MAST approach and its applications to education for sustainable development (ESD) in the context of climate change. Participants were also trained to incorporate rigorous scientific knowledge and ethical reflection into climate change adaptation and mitigation approaches and measures in small islands and coastal regions. They were provided with a platform, along with supporting documents and course outline, which can be used for developing Climate Change pedagogical programmes, activities or materials.

The participants found the workshop to be very beneficial. They were invited to suggest possible educational interventions on the basis of the training received at the workshop, and shared very diverse proposals. For instance, Hannah Lafita (Marshall Islands) proposed to “Meet with Curriculum Science Specialist to organize a 2-days workshop with the primary school science teachers to introduce and practice the Sandwatch (MAST) approach”, which would certainly be beneficial in helping build a sophisticated network of educators capable of applying climate change education principles and Sandwatch methodology nationally. Betty Vave (Tuvalu) proposed to reinforce teaching pedagogies on values of climate change to encourage teachers to plan lessons that call on critical thinking. Lorraine Tellei (Palau) decided to prepare a follow-up on enhancing understanding of the effects of CO2 emissions on ocean life, specifically corals and shells, through experiments inside and outside the classroom.

Participants from Kiribati, Ane Teiaua and Teeta Kabiriera, decided to focus on developing capacities of teacher professionals on climate change education, as well as introducing the MAST and ESD approaches to curricula writers and developers with regards to coastal erosion and loss of biodiversity in Kiribati. Annette Theophile from Vanuatu suggested to “Work with 3rd year science trainees to collect traditional knowledge relating to climate change in their villages and to relate scientific knowledge with traditional knowledge”, thus incorporating both scientific and indigenous knowledge to adapt to climate change. Combining science with other sources of knowledge such as traditional and indigenous knowledge and know-how could prove to be a sustainable way of dealing with complex issues related to climate change.

There were many other suggestions, demonstrating an active interest in reproducing the principles learned during this course, both in terms of disseminating the principles of climate change education for ESD to key audiences (educators, students and community members) and in terms of implementing the hands-on MAST approach.

The workshop was facilitated by Ms. Khalissa Ikhlef, Small Islands Indigenous Knowledge Section, UNESCO, Dr. Gillian Cambers, Co-Director of the Sandwatch Foundation and Lausanne Olvitt, Senior Lecturer in the Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University. To facilitate the field trip preparation, Patrick Afchain, Engineer in charge of the Coastal Investigation Project for the North Province of New Caledonia, also intervened to present useful information and data concerning beach dynamics over the course of more than a hundred years.

Prior to this workshop in New Caledonia, three other Climate Change Education workshops had already been conducted in Cape Verde, South-Africa and the Dominican Republic, covering the African and Caribbean regions.

In addition to disseminating the principles of climate change for ESD, these worksops also aim to building a stable network of climate change trainers and educators, who can share data and knowledge and make them accessible, to facilitate the design and implementation of solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  

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