Climate change education – Why, When, Who, How? (part II)

Climate change education – Why, When, Who, How? (part II)



Education is one of the key answers that will help reduce and prevent harm. Quality education is a basic human right and a foundation of social-economic development.

HOW to get climate change education?

  • What did the analyses reveal?

The research about the inclusion of climate change education in both, formal and non-formal education in our country, has been realized with technical and financial support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), within the “Fourth National Communication and Third Biennial Update Report on Climate Change under the UNFCCC”[1].

The following analyses were conducted:

  • analysis of the formal education sector (online research of the available curricula of preschool, primary and secondary education, and part of the available textbooks, as well as the study programs of the accredited higher education institutions);
  • analysis of the non-formal education sector (verified programs of the Adult Education Center and review of part of the trainings related to the subject issues of the non-governmental organizations).

The research about formal education and part of the programs provided by Adult Education Center has been realized according to key words related to climate change, while the research about NGOs working on the subject has been realized by sending questionnaires to nearly 80 organizations andaccording to the received answersthe offer of trainings related to climate change was inspected. 

The realized research and analyses have shown that a certain level of development has been achieved in the implementation of climate change education in the education system in our country. The fact that some of the subject-related content are involved in subjects such as: languages, civil society, life skills, ethics, arts…, is really gratifying. Apart from these subjects, there is climate change content in geography, physics, chemistry, etc., as well as vocational subjects, mostly from the technical professions in the secondary education.  From the conducted analyses and research, the following can be concluded: there are climate change-related content in every educational segment but, until now, a horizontal (or transversal) review of their quality and volume hasn’t been made. This type of review could provide information about how detailed this content in different subjects or programs is, whether there is a connection between the topics vertically (in different levels of education) or horizontally (in various subjects), whether there is an overlap of the contents or their upgrading, how much the information presented in the programs and textbooks is contemporary and based on scientific facts, etc.

An additional challenge for the teachers is the use of appropriate didactic methods, forms and techniques that should be based on modern tools and technologies, so this issue will be better presented to students and listeners.

The analysis conducted on the numerous adult training programs that are verified in the Adult Education Center,  through the keyword search method used in this project, has identified around 20 training programs that contain some of the keywords related to climate change. This number of trainings/retrainings for adults related to climate change is very small, and in terms of content it is relatively scarce! During the verification process, the Adult Education Center can significantly influence training providers by suggesting them to include more climate-related content in their programs. This is in full compliance with the recommendations and plan of the European Union and United Nations for transition of the education sector into a knowledge-based economy and preparation of young people (also those who need retraining) to green technologies.

The civil society sector, as in most of the developed countries, is the driving force of change in various areas. Identified topics and forms of non-formal education on climate change in the non-governmental sector could be a starting point that will be upgraded and modelled according to the regulations for standardization of non-formal education in the country, as well as contemporary trends and directions coming from the developed countries and relevant international organizations.

Considering the conducted analyses, here are presented the key points that were concluded:

  • there is a certain level of climate literacy which is a result of the inclusion of some contents related to climate change in primary and secondary education, as well as faculties (especially in the technical, natural and mathematical fields), but also as a result of the activities provided by the NGO sector, that has verified some of its trainings as programs within Adult Educaton Center;
  • there is a lack of mutual correlation and coordination regarding the contents of climate change in the formal programs in primary and secondary education, in terms of sequence, width and scope of contents, upgrade of topics and data, application of appropriate "green" pedagogy, etc.;
  • due to the autonomy of the universities, the inclusion and the greater representation of the contents of climate change in the study programs and courses provided by the faculties, depend on the desire and ability of the teaching staff, as well as the possibilities and policies of the faculties, i.e. the universities.

According to all of the presented information and conclusions, the question “HOW TO GET CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION?’’ will be changed to “HOW TO GET MORE QUALITY AND MORE COMPREHENSIVE CLIMATE CHANGE EDUCATION?”

In order to answer the question, here are presented some of the recommendations that emerged from the analysis (there are many more detailed recommendations in the report):

  • Implementing and strengthening climate change education should be a long-term goal of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia (until 2050), by including this requirement in the key strategic documents. Thereby, these policies should not depend on the temporary political party-the one that is in power or the one that has its own minister in charge of this issue (Ministry of Education and Science (MES), Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of Macedonia).
  • Coordination of the strategies for socio-economic development with educational policies and sustainable development policies (Government of the Republic of North Macedonia and Ministries).
  • Coordination and upgrade of the existing Education Strategy of RNM for 2018-2025 and the Concept for development of primary education with the latest recommendations from relevant international institutions related to the development of “green” competences and climate literacy (MES).
  • A holistic approach is recommended while developing the Education Strategy and the Concept for development of primary education, in which all key competences for lifelong learning will be developed at the same time in accordance with EU recommendations, with the main focus on:
    • DigitComp – digital competences,
    • EntreCompentrepreneurial competences,
    • LifeCopm – life competences,
    • GreenComp“green competences for climate change and sustainable development.
  • Establishment of a coordination group for climate change education in MES, that will work on operational level and in which, not only representatives from Ministry of Education and Science, Bureau for Development of Education, Centre for Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education Center, will be involved, but also representatives from NGOs and the business sector. This group should be linked to the national designated body and the national coordination mechanism related to Green Climate Fund.
  • Support from the Ministry of Education and Science while realizing some of the activities related to the content of education on climate change, through: guest lecturers, organized visits to companies and other organizations, participation in competitions, fairs and summer schools (camps) related to green technologies, climate change, ecology, sustainable development and SDGs.
  • Establishment of an expert group related to climate change education that will make a detailed insight into the contents of the subject in primary and secondary education (in terms of upgrading and expanding the contents, avoiding overlapping of certain topics, pointing to the use of proper "green pedagogy ", etc.). Additionally, this group will need to consider the possibilities of introducing a special subject related to Climate Change (compulsory or elective) in IX grade of primary education.

This article will be continued on 23th February, providing an answer to the question WHO.

Prof. Dr. Radmil Polenakovikj

Professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, UKIM, Skopje. Participated in the implementation of over 100 projects (as a team leader in over 50) funded by various EU programs, domestic ministries, agencies and municipalities, etc. He was a team leader of the National Strategy for Entrepreneurial Learning 2014-2020, Cluster Strategy 2018-2025, Regional Innovation Strategies for Planning Regions, etc. He has published over 310 papers, reports, presentations, etc., of which more than 10 textbooks and manuals for primary, secondary and higher education. In 2006 he founded the Business Start-up Center of UKIM, and in 2009 the National Center for Development of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Learning, within more than 60 start-up companies were established.

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