Education unions call for climate justice
Education International (EI) Africa organised a virtual Regional Forum on Climate change, under the theme, “Educators and their unions United for Climate Justice”. The forum took place on 28th October 2021 and gathered over 70 participants.
The webinar offered insights into the problem of climate change in Africa and developed strategies and recommendations for responding to the climate emergency in Africa. EI member organisations pledged to advocate for the inclusion of quality climate change education in the curriculum and to strengthen unions capacity to engage in climate change action at national and regional level.
The webinar was moderated by EI Vice President and SADTU General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke and addressed by EIARC Chairperson, Christian Addai-Poku and EI President, Susan Hopgood.
In her opening remarks, Susan Hopgood, stated that EI launched the Teach for the Planet campaign, calling on governments to embrace the educators’ Manifesto for Quality Climate Change Education for All. She highlighted that EI’s recent research found that countries are failing to recognise education’s role to tackle the climate crisis and are not including education in their climate action strategies. Susan therefore stressed on the need to mobilise:
- to ensure that governments enact the education reforms necessary to support teachers to empower students to sustain our planet;
- to ensure that climate education is gender responsive, culturally relevant and draws on indigenous knowledge;
- to ensure that all education institutions are safe places to learn;
- to accomplish the aims of Teach for the Planet Campaign and guarantee quality climate change education for every student everywhere, as outlined in EI’s Manifesto.
The webinar also gave participants the opportunity to share their experiences on climate change in Southern Africa, Sahel, and the All Africa Students Union (AASU). Won Jung Byun, Senior Project Officer, UNESCO and Ellen Davies, Director of Research, African Climate Foundation shared UNESCO policies and programmatic initiatives and the Africa response, respectively.
Dr. Dennis Sinyolo, EI Africa, Regional Director, in his closing remarks, highlighted that education can be a powerful tool for combatting climate change and encouraged participants to lead in the fight for climate justice. Dr Sinyolo called on governments and the United Nations, through the forthcoming Conference of the Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow, to come up with concrete commitments and measures to reduce carbon emissions. He also announced the launch of EI Africa’s Climate Change Network.