The UAE will launch an international eco-education programme to help teach the next generation about crucial efforts to protect the planet.
The Ministry of Education has announced a Green Education Partnership with Unesco and Unicef that will offer schools across the UAE a national framework to support climate education and action among young people.
As many as 1,400 principals and 2,800 teachers will be trained by the ministry with the goal of ensuring half of the country's schools and campuses are 'Green Accredited', ahead of the Cop28 summit in Dubai this year.
The project aims to equip pupils of all ages with the necessary knowledge to bring about a change in attitudes to environmental issues.
Announcing the drive on Tuesday, Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of Education, said Cop28 would provide a road map for using education to achieve sustainable development goals and combat climate change.
Education sector has critical role to play
“Individual behaviours toward climate change are still the key to making a real impact, and with that comes the significant role of education in shifting minds, actions and attitudes about the environment today, and in the future.
“At the Ministry of Education, we have a critical role to play to advance the role of education in addressing climate change, by building environment-friendly curricula and schools, and training educators to build sustainable green communities,” the minister said at a press conference.
The UAE will host the UN Cop28 summit from November 30 to December 12.
Mr Al Falasi said it would provide an opportunity to mobilise international efforts to include green education in schools in the region and around the world.
Elaborating on the initiative, Dr Amna Al Shamsi, assistant undersecretary for the Care and Building Capacity Sector at the ministry, said the green education strategy would not be introduced as mandatory classes in schools.
Instead it will be incorporated as a framework in all learning and extra-curricular activities.
Greening Schools and Communities
The official said the scheme would be have four core themes — Greening Schools, Greening Learning, Greening Capabilities and Greening Communities — each aiming to achieve a set target.
For instance, the Greening Schools will provide a framework for schools and universities to become more environmentally friendly to reduce their environmental impact, while also promoting sustainable practices among students and the wider community. The ministry said it wants to 50 per cent of the UAE schools to be ‘Green Accredited’ and have more than 70 eco-friendly campuses in the country by the end of the year.
Under Greening Learning, the ministry will introduce guidebooks for the creation of sustainability focused co-curriculum activities based on developing three pillars — knowledge, skills and values. Since 2019, the ministry has teamed up with the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) to develop a cross-curriculum framework to ensure that pupils at all levels are exposed to sustainable development concepts.
“But the new national educational framework endorsed by the UAE will make sure that whatever we create, we are talking a universal language that all other educational systems can adopt,” said Dr Al Shamsi.
“This is not just for Cop. Through the open tool kits we are working on [for UAE schools] we will create an abundance of resources and will allow other countries to build on those resources.”
Under the Greening Capacities segment, Dr Al Shamsi said, master trainers will work in every school to train teachers. A comprehensive programme has been developed alongside Unicef for training 1,400 principals and 2,800 teachers across UAE schools.
There will be at least one master trainer per school. They will receive five days in-person training to implement and deliver the framework with Unicef and an additional 30 hours of online, self-paced training on climate education, said the official.
Under the Greening Communities segment, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with Unesco, is developing a school and university engagement model to promote sustainability in communities. Under this model, each emirate will have its own unique approach to engaging schools and universities in promoting sustainable development.
Pupils will have opportunities for increased community engagement and participation, and green initiatives will involve collaboration between schools, community groups and local government.
First education pavilion at Cop 28
Dr Al Shamsi said the UAE would introduce the first education pavilion to appear at a Cop when it hosts the climate summit in November at Expo City in Dubai.
The pavilion, which will be set up in partnership with Unesco, will act as an international platform to promote climate education teamwork.
“The facility will be the centre to learn how the Ministry of Education has come to tackle climate change actions and what measures we can take to ensure its essential place in the ecosystem,” said the official.