Adesuwa Ochonma, a teacher in Nigeria, recently took her students on a class trip to a lagoon where she showed them huge islands of plastic trash built up in the water and explained its devastating effects.
Nearly 3,000 miles away in Uganda, children at St. Jude Muwangi Primary school, in an environmental club led by teachers Charles Obore and Carol Seera, learned about recycling, planting trees, and how to advocate to their parents and communities.
Education is crucial in the fight against climate change
As world leaders gather for this year’s annual Conference of Parties (COP25) taking place this week and next in Madrid, we know the headlines and how bleak things look for the future of our children and grandchildren. Recently, we learned that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases once again reached new highs. The time has never been so critical.
The inspiring young activist Greta Thunberg has sailed to Madrid across the Atlantic, having just encouraged millions of young people across the United States. She is brilliant and serves as a stark reminder of how rare young and local voices in this looming disaster are – the voices of those who are and will be most affected by climate change. We can’t put all our eggs in one basket called Greta.
To get it right, we must reorient education to become a major player in the work and debates around climate action. Last month, Italy became the first country ever to make climate change study compulsory in schools. Others must follow suit.
We must teach children to understand the perils of climate change and the value of clean air, water and earth. Due to youth mobilization, New York City let 1.1 million children skip school on September 20th to attend the climate protest ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit. And that same week, a group of children filed a complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, protesting a lack of government action on climate change.