Discussing climate change can be a challenge for some teachers. As a response, UNESCO is delivering a series of four-day training courses to help teachers discuss climate change in and outside the classroom. The most recent training session, held in the Dominican Republic, brought together 35 educators from 13 Central American and Caribbean countries.
“The course comes at a perfect time for us,” said Petal Jeeto, science education coordinator for the Ministry of Education in Guyana. “We are about to introduce climate change and education for sustainable development broadly into our country’s curricula and policies. The course showed us how to bridge schools and communities”
The course aims to help educators discuss the global as well as the local impacts of climate change, while introducing the participants to climate change education for sustainable development (ESD).
“An ESD approach is not a quick fix solution. Only if we introduce it as lifelong learning can we achieve changes towards more sustainable lifestyles and practices”, remarked course facilitator, Lausanne Olvitt.
Each course also includes many practical exercises. For example, educators are taken out to the beach to introduce them to the Sandwatch MAST-approach: measure, analyses, share and take action. One group undertook Sandwatch activities on the beach of Boca Chica which included measuring the size of the beach and interviewing a variety of locals, including fishermen and restaurant and hotel owners, to determine the quality of the water, the future impact of climate change as well as environmental changes that have already occurred over time.
“These activities opened my mind on the vulnerability of coastal areas and infrastructure“, remarked Nora Pieter, Infrastructure and DRR specialist for the Ministry of Education of the Dominican Republic.
Andy Paul, a primary school head teacher from Trinidad and Tobago, also commented that the ESD approaches used in the course helped make the subject relevant by linking it to real life situations.
The training session, held in the Dominican Republic in May, was the third in a new series of courses being held in different regions. The first two of the new training sessions were held last year in South Africa for educators from Southern and Eastern Africa and in Cap Verde for the Western and Central African region. The next training for educators from the Pacific region will take place in September 2014.