Global collaboration between educators and youth movements to boost transformative education for a sustainable future

published 21 May 2021 updated 27 May 2021

At the Worldwide Student Summit on Climate Action and Biodiversity, Education International joined hands with students and youth to call for education for sustainable development to become a worldwide priority in education at all levels.

The Worldwide Student Summit on Climate Action and Biodiversity was co-hosted on 19 May by the Global Student Forum, its regional member organisations, Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS), Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network, Future Coalition, and the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative.

Youth movement active on climate change issues

Participants were adamant that students and youth will not wait for action on climate change and the protection of biodiversity. Movements led by students and youth have demanded urgent action from governments to protect the environment and guarantee a sustainable future for generations to come.

In addition, advocates and activists have fought to keep climate change and biodiversity on the agenda as governments and development agencies turn to post-pandemic “recovery”. There is no “recovery” without action on climate change and biodiversity, participants agreed.

They further highlighted that transformative education includes comprehensive education on climate, biodiversity, and sustainability.

Quality education for all crucial for the planet’s future

Education is one of the most important instruments in building consciousness and developing responses to climate change and the biodiversity crisis. That was the message delivered by Dennis Sinyolo, Director of Education International’s Africa office, at the session on “Transformative education for a sustainable future - A student's concern!”.

“Education must be accessible to all, including marginalised, indigenous, migrant and ethnic populations, and of good quality,” he emphasised. “Education inculcates values, contributes to living in harmony with each other. Education can be a powerful tool to protect the planet and enhance basic knowledge on protecting our environment.”

Valuing indigenous systems and values

Sinyolo also highlighted that indigenous systems and values must be highly considered, as they have been preserving the environment for a long time.

Acknowledging students for knowing “what kind of education they want”, he called on them “to green your education institutions and learn by doing”.

Highlighting excessive competition and testing in education systems, Sinyolo insisted that “we need education system reforms. And reforms mean changing policy, sometimes legislation, for a holistic education system that prepares students for life”.

Fact-based education and teacher training indispensable

On educational content, he said that “we cannot run away from facts. We teach knowledge based on science. We need to move to problem-solving skills to innovate, to create, to adapt to the environment. We need to move to ethics and values to protect the environment.”

Sinyolo also underlined that it is essential to train teachers, at initial and in-service stages.

Education International’s Teach for the Planet campaign and Manifesto

In addition, he brought the panel’s attention to Education International’s Teach for the Planet campaign. This aims to ensure that climate education, based on science and with a civic action focus, becomes as fundamental as teaching reading and writing.

He also outlined Education International’s Manifesto on Quality Climate Change Education for All. This instrument outlines the teaching profession’s vision for quality climate change education and the policy framework necessary to implement it.

“We will continue to advocate for quality climate change education for all, throughout this year and beyond,” Sinyolo concluded.