WHO – refers to the implementation. In my opinion, this part is the hardest…often things go in wrong direction, because many different interests begin to mix. However, before answering this question, let’s recall the previous blogs related to climate change education, where WHY, WHEN and HOW were answered.
WHY explains that climate change education (CCE) is necessary – in line with the recommendations of the United Nations, the European Union and other relevant international organizations – in order for education system to contribute to increasing the "climate literacy" and "supply" of young people with "green" competences and also, to prepare them to cope with global challenges (including climate change consequences and green technologies). Fortunately, the awareness of this type of education is slowly maturing among the creators of educational policies in the country, but also among the public.
WHEN explains that a certain level of climate change contents are already included in our education system; which is also shown by the conducted analysis on this topic; but, there is a lack of correlation and coordination between the climate change contents in primary and secondary education, regarding the order, width and scope of contents, modernization of topics and data, application of appropriate "green" pedagogy, etc. It is similar with the verified adult education programs – only a few programs include contents related to climate change. Fortunately, there is a serious mass of NGOs working in this field and making a very significant contribution to the informal segment of education. However, the educational changes in all segments, more comprehensive and of better quality, must be made NOW and IMMEDIATELY. This moment, when reforms are being discussed and created in primary and secondary vocational education, must be used. The expert public and the civil society sector are here for these reforms to be made with the involvement of all stakeholders at the highest possible level.
HOW represents the ways of introducing climate changes content in the formal and non-formal education system and show us the steps that need to be taken to improve the situation in this field. In the research report conducted on this topic, are given multiple suggestions HOW this can be done, but more significant are – it is needed to: (a) form an expert team within the Ministry of Education and Science, which will work in this field in order to achieve bigger and more quality representation of the climate changes in the educational sector; (b) serious modernization and expansion of the topics related to climate change in all subjects, where these topics already exist, followed by quality thematic training on the teaching staff; (c) introduction of subject related to climate changes as an elective subject in IX grade in primary education; (d) expansion of the existing topics in the professional subjects in the direction of introduction and use of new, green technologies; (e) in the process of training verification, Adult Education Center to influence training providers, so more courses and topics related to climate change and transition to green economy (new technologies and similar), etc., will be included.
And now we come to the question WHO which answers are most complicated. The reason for this is that here the interests of more sides start to mix (political, organizational, personal, etc.). In general, on institutional level, it is clear WHO should conduct out the work. But, the problems start to show up when it comes to changing the government, minister (and the first two to three echelons of the government), director of agency etc. Experiences with the reforms in our country (including the education) in the past 20 years and more, show that:
- the development of strategic documents most often is supported by funds and expert assistance from international organizations (EU, UN, World Bank, donors, bilateral assistance, etc.). Teams of international and domestic experts are working on these documents and in general, these strategies are correctly made and based on recommendations from relevant international organizations in the relevant fields. Sometimes, the time perspective can arise as a problem, which often is in the range of several years. Regarding the complexity of climate change issues – the focus of strategic documents related to this topic (including the CCE) must be long-term (20-30 or more years) and consistent! Regardless of the fact that international expert and financial support will be needed for the development of key strategic documents, it would be good if this, and each of the following central and local governments, provide special strategic budgets in their financial planning for the development and support of key strategic documents in priority areas, including areas related to climate change.
- regarding the consistency, i.e. continuity in the implementation of a strategy or action plan, the biggest problem arises with the change of central or local government (different political parties). Everyone who gets a higher position in an institution, wants to introduce something new, “for the first time”, especially if the previous government was from the opposite party! This fact leads to a loss of continuity, because "those previous ones" did not do anything good (or did very little). Of course, there are professionals (in every institution) who try to do their job conscientiously and act in accordance with the tasks that are set in the strategy or action plan.
- the selection of the expert group that will work on the implementation of the action plan from the relevant strategic documents is perhaps the most important part of the answer to the question WHO. Why - because we have experts and "experts", eligible and ineligible, ours and theirs, divided along ethnic lines, and other divisions of professors, teachers, administrators, counselors, civic associations, etc. An additional problem is that this issue is multidisciplinary and includes different levels of education and it is not possible to have universal experts!!!
- after the expert group completes the work and the contents related to climate change are expanded, modernized and adopted in the curricula by the educational authorities, appropriate guidelines and teaching materials should be prepared (especially for primary and secondary education); the next WHO refers to WHO will prepare these materials – and again – a mixed multidisciplinary expert team must be selected, that will prepare modern materials, correlated to the curricula in individual subjects (e.g. geography, biology , civil society, life skills, etc.)
- top high-quality trainings (which include quality materials and appropriate “green” pedagogy) through which several thousand teachers have to go, lead to the next WHO. Here, the key question is WHO will hold the trainings. Quality trainers and experts have to be a prerequisite for appropriate and correct selection of training providers, which will result in good implementation and transfer of news and knowledge to teachers.
- the most important WHO are the teachers. Only fully motivated teachers that are fully supported, will contribute to the development of climate literacy and green competences among young people. Full support means: timely supply of teaching materials and guidelines; quality training with guidelines for using appropriate "green" pedagogy; support from the school management, but also the environment for participation in projects, competitions, visits to companies, etc. related to climate change topics; then participation in EU projects and mobility of teachers and students in other countries, etc. For the teaching staff, a system of recognition / rewarding of their engagements for better realization of the teaching and self-investment in the educational process should be developed, in order for students to be able to better develop their green competences, i.e. to be more climate literate. The mentor teacher system is one of the possible ways to reward dedicated teachers.
There are many challenges ahead of us, but we should work together for a better future, because we have only one planet, and the decisions and actions we make now will result in effects (positive or negative) after 10, 20 or more years!!!