Education International, the OECD and UNESCO join forces to support teacher collaboration on climate education

published 1 July 2021 updated 8 September 2021

Launched during an online event co-hosted by Education International, the OECD and UNESCO on 1 July, the Global Teaching Insights initiative is part of Education International’s Teach for the Planet campaign. The project features an online platform where teachers can connect with colleagues from around the world to share their ideas and best practices on climate education.

Welcoming the Global Teaching Insights, Education International President, Susan Hopgood said:

“As stated in our Manifesto on Quality Climate Change Education for All, teachers want countries to recognise the role of education in the fight against climate change. We want quality climate change education for all with a teacher led approach to curricula, teacher training and professional development. The Global Teaching Insights initiative recognises the importance of these goals, and in particular aims to support a teacher-led approach to quality climate education.”

Climate education based on science and with a strong civic focus is imperative

While 85% of youth globally believe they have a responsibility to tackle climate change, over 40% are unsure of how they can make a difference.

“We have a young generation who want to fight climate change, but many don’t know how. They need to be empowered for climate action.”

Andreas Schleicher | Director for Education and Skills, OECD

“Government and school policies on climate education need to provide students with a deep understanding of environmental issues and inspire them to co-develop strategies to take action for the environment.”

Dr Maisha Reza | Chairperson of the Commonwealth Students’ Association, Global Student Forum

Together with EARTHDAY.ORG, Education International has been working to mobilise educators and civil society around the world to ensure quality climate education for all.

“This is the moment where we need to shift into an exponential change on climate action. Climate education is critical. Over 550 organisations are supporting the EARTHDAY.ORG campaign for stepped-up ambition on climate education.”

Nick Nuttall | EARTHDAY.ORG

Government action: Great examples to follow

Some governments have already taken steps to make climate change education for all a reality in their countries. Speaking at the launch event of the Global Teaching Insights, Lorenzo Fioramonti shared his experience as the former Education Minister of Italy who introduced green civic education in all Italian schools. He also stressed that time is running out and campaigns like Teach for the Planet are essential in order to compel governments to act.

“We need to put pressure on politicians. I expect the OECD, UNESCO and civil society to join forces with Education International and work to make sure 2021 is the year in which we make governments commit to climate education for all.”

Lorenzo Fioramonti | Professor and former Education Minister of Italy

Costa Rica’s Vice Minister of Education, Melania Brenes echoed the sense of urgency and explained how education for sustainable development is now at the heart of her country’s education system:

“In Costa Rica, education for sustainable development is central in the curriculum and in school programmes, in teacher training and professional development, and in school management.”

Supporting collaboration among educators around the world

While climate education policy in many parts of the world is still underdeveloped, teachers have nonetheless been innovating in their classrooms, schools and communities to prepare students for climate action for many years.

The Global Teaching Insights amplifies the voices of educators and gives them the opportunity to collaborate and share know-how with colleagues across the world.

Empowering teachers for climate change education

However, as Susan Hopgood pointed out during the launch event,

“Listening to teachers’ voices must go beyond internal collaboration. The key to success is sustained social and policy dialogue. When policy makers and educators work together, education systems can be sustainably transformed for the better.”

Education International’s President highlighted three key areas where policy change could facilitate teacher empowerment for quality climate change education:

1. Teacher training

Climate education must be fully integrated into both initial teacher training and continuous professional learning and development.

2. Support

Teachers need time, resources and professional autonomy to deliver quality climate education. They need time as part of their working day to plan, upskill and innovate on climate education. They need quality teaching and learning materials and they must be trusted to teach the science of climate change without fear of politically motivated penalties.

3. Voice

Teachers and their representatives should be included in policy reform discussions and involved in curricula design, development and evaluation. Teachers are experts in education and this expertise should be harnessed through social and policy dialogue.