Why Nigerian Children Need Environmental Education

To avoid the worst effects of climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions of here 2050.

Universal Basic Education (UBE) Primary School, Pasali, students during an awareness class on the importance of plastic waste management, by the Clean Technology Hub (CTH) Environment and Climate Action Team in Abuja

However, most countries are not on track to meet these targets and in some cases could be ignorant. Therefore, it is essential to increase knowledge about the problems related to climate change and how to mitigate its effects as soon as possible. More people will participate in climate action if they are well educated to help meet emission reduction targets.

Children are an important demographic to educate, not only because they would be able to carry this knowledge into their homes and form a more aware population, but also because they are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) is the first comprehensive report to assess the risk of climate change for children. The assessment looked at children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks such as heat waves and their susceptibility to these based on their availability of vital services.

Nigeria, along with Chad, is ranked second among these countries, just ahead of the Central African Republic ranked first. According to an assessment by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2020, nearly half of the world’s 2.2 billion young people live in one of 33 “very high risk” countries. Young Nigerians are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which puts their health, education and security at risk.

The report concluded that Nigerian children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution and coastal flooding, but that investing in social services including children’s health, nutrition, education, and helps protect their future against the effects of climatic disasters.

It is important to note that the consequences of climate change are more serious in developing countries, even if the populations there are less guilty of the situation and have less capacity to prepare for and adapt to it.

Many African generations in the future will face a grave threat from ecological change, which has immediate and long-term consequences for their physical and mental health. Climate change is the defining challenge of the next era, and any chance of meeting it requires young people to acquire the knowledge and skills to care for the environment.

Sustainable Development Goal 4 calls for quality education and aspires to ensure that all have access to quality education and that lifelong learning opportunities are available.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2021, climate change education helps to address and develop effective responses to climate change. It also helps students understand the causes and effects of climate change, deal with it, and take the necessary steps to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

Additionally, it helps decision makers understand the need to develop methods and plans to address climate change nationally and globally and helps communities learn about the effects of climate change on their livelihoods ( vulnerability), develop methods to mitigate outcomes (adaptation), and reduce their carbon emissions and climate footprint (mitigation).

The global community understands the need for climate change education and training, which is why the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has coined the term “Action for Climate Empowerment”.

The idea is to describe the activities carried out under Article 6 of the Convention (1992) and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, the primary objective of which is to give all members of society the ways to engage in climate action through activities such as; education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation.

Climate change education is key to building a climate-smart generation. Thus, climate change education should be integrated into all levels of children’s education, from early childhood to tertiary levels.

According to a document published by UNESCO, there are good national examples of climate change education that could inspire others in their future efforts to place environmental conservation at the center of the content and practice of the education.

In recent years, Indonesia has enacted several laws and regulations on climate change and included the subject in its development goals. In 2013, the country revised its National Curriculum Framework to include climate change as a core competency for primary school students, listed as part of what students should learn.

In addition, its Ministry of Education and Culture organizes climate change events, such as the annual Climate Change Education Forum and Expo, which focus on climate change education issues. and offer schools and educators the opportunity to network.

The Republic of Korea in East Asia has implemented several important education governance policies and climate change projects. For example, in 2010 it passed the Low Carbon Green Growth (LCGG) Framework Act, which clarifies the government’s role in climate change education.

A decade later, the country released its third environmental education master plan (2020), which places a strong emphasis on climate change. In addition, since 2007, its national framework programs have included climate change education at all levels, including pre-school.

The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) program in South Africa is primarily concerned with the professional development of teachers to improve the teaching of the Environmental and Sustainable Development Education curriculum. In addition, the initiative aims to provide educational materials on sustainable development to schools and communities; and increase the capacity of communities to initiate and implement environmental education programs and programs.

In addition to teacher training, many countries coordinate to ensure school infrastructure reflects national ESD interests. Upgrading school buildings and “greening” schools was commonplace, as demonstrated by the Dominican Republic and Kenya’s School Gardens Initiative (SGI).

In the Dominican Republic, for example, the SGI is carried out with the collaboration of the Ministry of Agriculture, which provides schools with the resources, materials and advice needed to improve their gardens. The program aims to create in students respect and care for nature.

In Morocco, the integrated environmental and sustainable development education program has made it possible to carry out pilot projects for ecological development in schools.

In Peru, the Ministry of Environment works closely with its education counterpart through the National Youth Secretariat to provide services relevant to the national youth policy through the Action Training Program environmental. She designed an environmental education exercise in which she trains young people from state-recognized Peruvian youth organizations.

Yet, not all Nigerian schools include climate change education in their curriculum or extracurricular activities. And, if so, what they are teaching them about climate change may not be related to their environment regarding how to prepare for and respond to certain types of disasters most likely to occur in their geographic regions.

Poor climate change education and the increased availability of misinformation online is making it harder for children and young people to distinguish between fact and fiction around the climate change saga.

Given the effects of climate change in Nigeria and with the understanding that most Nigerian public schools lack resources and information about their environment and climate change, it is essential to integrate this knowledge into the formal and informal school setting by modifying the curriculum and training teachers. which, in turn, would educate school children as a means of making them understand and participate in the global discourse, and better preparing them to deal with climate change and environmental concerns that are unique to their regions.

Considering this, Clean Technology Hub (CTH) has organized training for climate action among students in Nigeria, and it is currently working with existing school clubs to promote the topic of green energy.

To catch them while they’re still young, CTH has created an e-Learning Academy, a digital collection of video learning resources grouped into modules and series that cover a wide range of renewable energy and sustainability topics.

In addition, the Adopt a School program is an initiative of the Clean Technology Hub that aims to fill the knowledge gap in schools on climate change by increasing students’ knowledge of climate adaptation by forming green clubs focused on STEM that will promote climate actions using schools. in Nigeria as a vehicle.

This project targets primary and secondary school students across the country and equips young people with the knowledge and skills they need to contribute to a safe and sustainable future while ensuring that these initiatives reach marginalized people.

By Onyekachi Chukwu, Associate for Environment and Climate Action at Clean Technology Hub