Addressing Climate Change: Decoding the State of the Education Report for India 2023
Embracing a new era of transformations across the education sector, India’s academic landscape is currently undergoing a significant evolution. The innovations brought forth by the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) and the revised National Curriculum Framework 2023 (NCF 2023) have catalyzed a significant shift in national policy paradigms. Besides enabling holistic learning and technology integration in education, these pivotal reforms also outline the importance of environmental education and integrating sustainability into school curricula to raise awareness around climate change.
Today, we delve into the dynamic intersection of education and climate change in India by taking a look at the fifth edition of UNESCO New Delhi Regional Office’s annual flagship report, Seeds of Change – State of the Education Report for India 2023.
This report analyzes how the concept of climate change is being incorporated in India’s education system through effective pedagogies, identifies gaps in climate change integration and offers concrete policy recommendations to support education systems in becoming climate-smart.
Deconstructing the ‘State of the Education Report for India 2023’
UNESCO’s report arrives at a crucial time, coinciding with India’s significant strides in addressing the critical matter of climate change. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of the State of the Education Report for India 2023.
This report analyzes the impact of climate change on the education sector in India and the role of education in addressing the challenges of climate change. It focuses on the intersection of two of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are, quality education (SDG 4) and climate action (SDG 13), within an Indian context. Let’s take a look at the key objectives of UNESCOs State of the Education Report for India 2023:
1. To demonstrate how holistic climate education can amplify climate actions in schools and highlight the existing challenges that educational institutions face.
2. To serve as a comprehensive guide for stakeholders in the Indian education sector to create policies and initiatives, shape classroom interactions and encourage community involvement in addressing climate change.
3. To showcase how integrating climate change education from an early school stage to higher education can equip young students with the knowledge, skills and initiative to become responsible agents in coming up with climate solutions.
The report states that India is a country that is well-suited for exploration of climate education and innovations. It has been noted that post the latest iterations, NCF 2023 mentions the term ‘climate change’ 52 times throughout the document. Here are some central insights based on the report:
1. India’s education sector is bearing the brunt of climate change, experiencing resource loss, infrastructure damage, disrupted learning, school closures and health impacts on students. These challenges are leaving a direct impact on the quality of education.
2. India is taking proactive measures to mitigate climate change by playing an active role in global climate actions through advocating for lifestyle changes and leading global mass movements such as Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment)
3. Both climate change education and education for sustainable development are part of NEP’s overarching vision and have been incorporated in curriculum, pedagogies and programs and non-formal learning through the NCF 2023.
4. There is a need for constantly updating teaching material for climate change education due to its dynamic nature, surpassing the limitations of NCERT textbooks.
5. It is crucial to conduct specialized teacher training on climate change pedagogies to enrich classroom activities focused on climate-related topics.
6. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the term Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) to help students and all members of society across India understand and engage in solving the complex issues faced by climate change. It highlights six priority areas – public awareness, education training, public access to information, public participation and international cooperation.
Essential Takeaways from State of the Education Report India 2023
This report offers well-rounded and evidence-based insights on various aspects of climate education in India. The methodology involves interviews with experts from the industry, extensive secondary research, policy documents of the Centre and state governments, and reports published by UN bodies, specifically UNESCO, UNICEF and UNFCCC. It demonstrates how India has already taken significant steps in addressing climate change and further encourages schools to cultivate innovative learning practices for a sustainable future.
Here are some key takeaways from the State of the Education Report for India 2023 on integration of climate education in schools:
1. India’s growing green economy demands vocational-based climate education across all education levels.
2. Partnerships among education stakeholders can greatly enhance efforts to integrate climate concepts into the Indian education system.
3. Teacher-training must include climate components in pre-service and in-service academics, which will improve climate education delivery.
4. Climate concepts should be incorporated across multiple subjects, in a way that fosters critical thinking and a holistic understanding of issues surrounding climate change.
5. Academic institutions must practice ‘the whole-school approach’ that involves integrating climate action across all aspects of managing and operating a school, including teaching, learning, school governance, teacher training, operations and community partnerships.
6. Incorporate pedagogical approaches like field-based immersive learning, project-based experiential learning, technology-based learning and gamification to boost climate change education at school level.
Besides these key learnings, the report also highlights the Greening Education Partnership (GEP) that was launched by the UN Secretary General to tackle the climate crisis through a defined climate change education framework. The GEP aligns with four key elements of transforming education to deal with climate change impact. These are the 4 pillars of transformative education:
1. Greening Schools
A ‘green school’ is a learning institution that supports Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) by addressing climate change through its teaching, facilities and operations. The aim is to promote skills and knowledge for the economic, cultural, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development.
2. Greening Curriculum
The NEP 2020 outlines climate change as a crucial component of environmental education. In line with vision, the NCF 2023 defines content approaches, learning standards and assessments across all stages of education. This stage-wise integration of climate concepts into school curricula is what ‘green curriculum’ is all about.
3. Greening Teacher Training & Education System’s Capacities
Teacher training programs focused on sustainability and climate change should be conducted to empower teachers with necessary tools to refine their teaching practices. Online and diploma courses, workshops by government bodies and initiatives by the Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) and National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’
Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) actively contributes to raising environmental education awareness among teachers.
4. Greening Communities
This refers to fostering environmental stewardship at a community level by engaging organizations and members to adopt eco-friendly measures and promote sustainable practices.
Concrete Recommendations for Educational Institutions & Stakeholders
India has already incorporated climate change education into existing NCERT textbooks and, through NCF 2023, aims to integrate climate change as an interdisciplinary subject across all school levels. However, despite ongoing efforts, there is significant need for more comprehensive education on climate change across schools, colleges and communities. The education sector in India is at a crucial juncture that requires focused attention and efforts to address the dynamics of climate change and seize emerging opportunities.
Here are 10 actionable recommendations by the State of the Education India 2023 report to support India’s effort in promoting education to address climate change:
1. Emphasize the urgent need for collective action to address climate change through education
2. Include a climate change education component in all development policies
3. Integrate climate change education at all stages of education
4. Support educational institutions to be green and climate-ready
5. Embed climate-change perspectives into green skills and vocational education programs
6. Empower teachers with comprehensive climate change education training and resources
7. Engage with the youth to build a green future
8. Incorporate local and traditional knowledge that supports low-carbon lifestyles in climate change education
9. Promote partnerships to foster innovations in climate change education
10. Strengthen and create education-centered portals to provide reliable information on climate change
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To conclude, the State of the Education Report for India 2023 clearly highlights the different ways in which India has actively engaged in global climate actions and is addressing the issue of climate change through education. While numerous initiatives are underway at local, state and national levels, a critical intervention that will shape climate change education in India is the successful execution of NCF 2023. Integrating climate change education into school curriculums is not just beneficial for students, teachers or society but is also vital for the well-being of future generations.
Last Updated on November 20, 2023