Background Between January and May 2013, a training course for secondary school teachers on “Climate Change Education Inside and Outside the Classroom” was developed by Dr Lausanne Olvitt, Senior Lecturer in the Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University and Dr Gillian Cambers, Co-Director of the Sandwatch Foundation. The preparation of this course was supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) through the Section for Small Island Developing States and the Section for Education for Sustainable Development. The course was developed in the context of UNESCO’s Climate Change Intersectoral Platform project “Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development in African Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Coastal Regions: Building excellence through teacher education”.
The course combines elements from UNESCO’s Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development Course for Teachers with the Sandwatch programme’s methodology (measure, analyse, share and take action - MAST) and has been developed specifically for educators in African coastal regions and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These regions are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the challenges it raises for the wellbeing of people and the ecosystems on which they depend. The course supports a range of educators, most especially secondary school teachers, but also teacher educators and community educators, to teach about climate change in ways that reflect the principles of education for sustainable development (ESD). The objectives of the course are to:
Stimulate and support the integration of education for sustainable development (ESD) approaches in pre- and in-service teacher education courses, in cross-curricula classroom practice, and in non-formal (community-based) learning programmes.
Support educators to take local, contextualised action to mitigate and especially to adapt to climate change.
The aims of the course are to:
Introduce educators to the MAST (measure, analyse, share and take action) application of ESD in the context of climate change.
Incorporate rigorous scientific knowledge and ethical reflection into climate change adaptation and mitigation approaches and measures in small islands and coastal regions.
Provide an outline course and supporting documents which educators can use to develop Climate Change ESD programmes, activities or materials specific to their professional and social-ecological context.
This report describes the third roll-out of the course, which took place at Hotel Bellevue Dominican Bay, Boca Chica, Dominican Republic from 26 - 29 May 2014. The course has already been piloted in at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, from 8 - 11 October 2013, and at Hotel Pestana Tropica, Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde, from 20 - 23 November 2013. A fourth roll-out is planned for the Pacific SIDS later in 2014 after which the course will be finalised.
Participants The 32 participants came mainly from SIDS in the Caribbean and from Central American countries and comprised primary and secondary teachers, school principals, teacher educators, educators from ministries of education, and community educators from non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The list of participants is presented as Annex 1.
Agenda The course consists of three modules and was delivered over a four day period. Module 1 presents some local and global perspectives on climate change and its impacts, as well as giving a background to climate change science and ESD. Module 2 introduces the participants to the Sandwatch approach and includes a field trip which allows participants to investigate past changes and future climate change scenarios at a local beach location. Module 3 provides an opportunity for participants to build on the materials and activities presented and develop an educational intervention that they will undertake on return to their home countries. The agenda for the four day course is presented as Annex 2. Simultaneous translation provided for the course delivery in English and Spanish.
Delivery of the Course The training course was opened on 26 May 2014 by Mr Omar Ramirez, Executive Vice-President of the National Council on Climate Change; Ms Rojita Pinales, Director of Continuous Learning, National Institute of Teacher Training (INAFOCAM), and Ms Julia Heiss, Programme Specialist, UNESCO-Education for Sustainable Development. They welcomed the participants to the Dominican Republic where training teachers in climate change is well advanced through the formal education system in accordance with Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ms Heiss described the background to the course and its role in changing mindsets about climate change through education.
Opening Ceremony: (from left to right) Ms Julia Heiss, Mr Omar Ramirez, Ms Rojita Pinales
Following this, the participants introduced themselves and outlined their expectations from this course. This was followed by a circle sharing activity during which participants had the opportunity to share their personal experiences and knowledge of climate change.
The circle sharing activity proved a useful way for participants to exchange views on climate change
After the presentations and activities relating to climate change impacts and ESD, there were some interesting discussions about the types of education learners need to cope with climate change. In particular, participants emphasised the need for:
A holistic approach to climate change education whereby climate change is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum and at all levels. (There was also discussion that this course, while initially designed for secondary school teachers, could be adapted for all levels of teaching).
Open ended and investigative education
An ethical and proactive approach to climate justice
A focus on the school and home environment
Module 1 concluded with presentations and activities on climate change science and distinguishing between adaptation and mitigation. During the delivery of module 2 the context changed from the global to the local level. After a presentation and activity relating to the Sandwatch approach, a general orientation was given about the location and background to the field trip site and the measurements and activities to be undertaken. After this, participants worked in small groups to carry out some more research into the beach locations using the internet and especially tools such as Google Maps. The field trip to Boca Chica Beach, adjacent to the Bellevue Hotel, took place on 18th May, and the participants divided into three groups to study different sections of the beach.
Before the field trip, participants had a briefing about past changes at Boca Chica Beach by Mr Bienvenido Santana of the Ministry of Natural Resources. They then observed and measured different aspects of the beach to gain an insight into past and future changes. On return from the field trip, participants worked in small groups to prepare key statements about how the beach had changed in the past and prepared scenarios and levels of confidence into how the beach might change in the future as a result of climate change. The results of the investigations were then presented to the main group.
Field trip activities: Measuring the beach and discussing past changes with a local restaurant manager
The third module was presented on the final day of the workshop and after a presentation and discussion contextualising the activities from Modules 1 and 2, participants worked individually with a planning template to prepare a specific educational intervention that would be implemented on their return home. A brief outline of each participant’s proposed intervention is presented as Annex 3. Course Evaluation At the end of the course, participants completed an evaluation and the results are presented as Annex 4. The questions which related to the organisation, content, relevance and delivery of the course were rated very high, between 6 and 7 (the top score being 7) by more than 90% of the participants. A similar result was obtained in response to the question relating to the participants’ competence to implement the education intervention on their return home. Some comments on the course are presented below.
“The training was well delivered. I found the trainers were very knowledgeable and effective in their delivery of the material. However, I think the training could have been done over a five day period and include more practical activities.”
“I want to thank you for the opportunity to participate in this course. Thanks for such a great job.”
“Good perspective on emphasising the importance of scientific knowledge in climate change education.”