Climate Literacy in Bangladesh: In Search of An Impeccable Framework
Climate change is undeniably the biggest global as well as national concern being no longer a matter of consideration rather a matter to act upon right now as it directly hits a question mark to the existence of mankind. But here in Bangladesh, hardly the term be able to knock the brains of mass people. We have massive range of Action Plans, National policies, loads of national and international laws to tackle environmental issues and climate induced displaced people, having courts to enforce orders and even punishment like imprisonment or fine. But these might not suffice to prevent human exploitation of the nature. Laws can surely regulate human behaviour but in case of nature, the remedy should also be to literate people about climate change.
Climate literacy in school level should be the utmost priority of education system of a State. Not only for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills’ ruling demand in job sectors but also today’s generation will be suffering and managing futuristic climate hazards. Besides, children are more vulnerable to climate change and prone to have direct effects.
Most of the people irrespective of literacy, never learned anything about climate change in school. Mostly they do not know why it is crucial to reduce plastic usage or why it is so vitally important to reduce burning of fossil fuels, to minimize CO2 emission for our future. It is absolutely impossible to combat with climate change without a clear idea of nature cycle, connectivity of human with nature, climate, ecosystem, how the nature acts and reacts to human activity and that the change to our habits of daily life can bring a positive change to the world’s environment at large. Here is the exact point where ‘Climate Literacy’ has the role to play. It means, in general, the way to know the climate, climate change and its impact and approaches to adaptation or mitigation. We should be more concerned about climate education rather than digital literacy. Isn’t it more crucial to build a habitable world than a safe social media platform?
Italy is going to be the world’s first nation to put UN climate agenda into the entire national education system emphasizing climate literacy. They are on the process to make it compulsory by 2020 declaring all public schools to include about 33 hours a year in their curricula on climate literacy, sustainable development and lessons having environmental essence.
Cambodia, a climate change prone country, has adopted plans and is going to incorporate an exclusively expanded earth science curriculum for it’s higher secondary schools by 2020.
Article 6 of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has focused about impact of climate change education. In response to the framework designed in Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO has incorporated the Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development programme for State parties to signify the reason why climate literacy is crucial to be enlisted in the education programmes, why young people are focused and expected to bring a positive change in dealing with climate change and why climate change urged to be included separately in the academic curriculum of the nations.
The US Global Change Research Programme introduced in 2006, a set of features and rules of climate, named Climate Literacy: Essential Principles of Climate Science offering 7 principles as to the basic knowledge of climate and climate change including The Guiding Principle for Informed Climate Decisions. This is a huge national response they made to combat with climate change.
With the motto of zero carbon emission target, the Jatiyo Sangshad ( Parliament of Bangladesh) very recently has adopted a motion to combat climate change crisis, recognising the term ‘climate emergency’. But adopting plans should be well established in education sector to make it far more reachable and ensuring climate literacy is the only pathway to do this. Bangladesh Government is yet to formulate a national plan and standard assessment methods to implement ‘Climate Literacy’ and ‘Education on Sustainable Development (ESD’) in primary education.
As climate change is a pretty complex issue surrounded by several disciplines like- Earth Science, Physics, Geography, Environmental Science, Disaster Management etc., it is quite difficult to ensure the inclusivity of climate change in the national curriculum of a State like Bangladesh. Yet a little continuous effort always makes a difference and literacy-based approach is the most far-fetching and impactful way to fight with climate change. Thus, ensuring climate literacy need to be started from the root level education to have the best result with the aim to create among the students- an understanding of the duties towards nature, that nature owes rights to us, a sense of eco-friendly practices and to spread awareness in a wider range.
In university education, climate change should not be confined only in science studies, but also should be embedded in different subjects. Apart from regular science based education, there should be a separate course on climate literacy and ESD and a uniform guideline to the NCTB. This course should include the discussion in classes as to how the industrial civilization has been pouring Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a gross rate, how overtime the icebergs could melt resulting sea-level rise, how ecosystem will be substantially changed due to massive deforestation for infrastructural development plans, how endangering animals leads to destruction of nature, how energy supply affecting the whole world and how corporate profits certainly contribute to climate change.
This can be enhanced by providing interactive sessions, proper and ample innovative teaching methods and climate education materials. The textbooks provided in the primary, secondary and higher secondary level is not sufficient enough to explain or express these matters. So root level education should be more focused because teaching these levels are akin to build an ideal environment-friendly nation. Teachers should be offered specialised course or training as to learn and teach the basics of climate change to the students.
A comprehensive framework on climate literacy need to be drawn to accelerate climate education and to promote climate literacy efforts by electronic and print media and NGOs. There can be adopted a massive scale of climate literacy programmes and national initiatives by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Forest. Funding for scientifically supported methods, innovations, climate change education should be given to generate the importance of the issue if addressed by the Ministries of our country.
Human beings are enslaved by their habit and education is the most powerful and influential tool to create an impact upon the young minds by enhancing a change in that habit, thinking, attitudes towards the environment which eventually will lead them to give a thought to the climate change issues and take various initiatives. Climate change is a big truth ignored which need to be brought into daylight for the sake of protecting the health of the world we live. To build a safe world for the future, climate literacy can be a reliable step ahead to foster a climate-smart, energy-wise and science savvy society and nation.
The writer is a Student, Department of Law, Jagannath University.