Climate change is presently the most serious global and national concern. As it directly threatens humanity's existence, it is no longer a subject of consideration, but a matter of action right now. However, in Bangladesh, the word is unlikely to strike fear into the hearts of the general public. We have a vast array of Action Plans, national policies, and a plethora of national and international laws to address the environmental challenges and climate-related displaced people as well as courts that can enforce orders and even penalise persons with imprisonment or fines. However, these may not be enough to prevent human exploitation of nature. Laws can certainly regulate human behaviour, but in the case of nature, the remedy should also include climate change education.
Climate literacy at the school level should be a top priority for every state's educational system. Not only are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) skills in high demand in the employment market, but today's youth will also have to deal with future climate hazards. Furthermore, children are more vulnerable to climate change and are more likely to experience direct consequences.
Italy will be the first country in the world to integrate the UN climate agenda into the whole national education system, with a focus on climate literacy. They are working to make it mandatory by 2020, requiring all public schools to include around 33 hours of climate literacy, sustainable development, and environmental topics in their curricula.
Cambodia, a country at risk from climate change, has made plans to implement an entirely enlarged earth science curriculum in its higher secondary schools.
The impact of climate change education is addressed in Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In response to the framework designed in the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO has incorporated the Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development programme for State Parties to signify why climate literacy is critical to be included in education programmes, and why young people are focused and expected to bring a positive change in dealing with climate change.
Climate Literacy: Essential Principles of Climate Science, a set of features and guidelines developed by the US Global Change Research Programme in 2006, offers seven principles for fundamental knowledge of climate and climate change, including the Guiding Principle for Informed Climate Decisions. This is a massive national response to the threat of climate change.
The Jatiya Sangsad (Bangladesh's Parliament) recently endorsed a measure to address climate change problem, recognising the term "climate emergency." However, in order to make it considerably more accessible, strategies should be firmly established in the education sector, and increasing climate literacy is the only way to do so. The Government of Bangladesh has yet to develop a national plan and standard assessment techniques for implementing climate literacy and education for sustainable development (ESD) in primary schools.
Climate change should not be limited to science courses in university education, but should be integrated into a variety of subjects. Aside from conventional science-based education, a specific course on climate literacy and ESD, as well as a uniform guideline for the NCTB, should be offered. This course should include discussions in class about how industrial civilisation has been dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rapid rate, how icebergs may melt over time, resulting in sea-level rise, how ecosystems will be significantly altered as a result of massive deforestation for infrastructure development plans, how endangering animals leads to the destruction of nature, and how energising animals leads to the destruction of nature.
Interactive sessions, appropriate and adequate new teaching approaches, and climate education materials can all help. The textbooks used in primary, secondary, and higher secondary schools are insufficient to explain or articulate these issues. So, because teaching these levels is analogous to building an ideal environment-friendly nation, root level education should be more emphasised. Teachers should be provided with specialised training in order to learn and teach the fundamentals of climate change to their students.
To expedite climate education and encourage climate literacy activities by electronic and print media and NGOs, a comprehensive framework on climate literacy must be developed. Climate literacy programmes and national initiatives can be implemented on a large scale by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Forestry. If the issue is addressed by our country's ministries, funding for scientifically based approaches, innovations, and climate change education should be provided.
Human beings are slaves by their habits, and education is the most effective and persuasive weapon for influencing young minds by increasing a shift in habit, thinking, and attitudes toward the environment, which will eventually drive them to consider climate change issues and take various actions. Climate change is a major reality that needs to be brought to light in order to protect the health of the world we live in. Climate literacy can be a dependable step forward in fostering a climate-smart, energy-wise, and science-savvy culture and nation in order to establish a secure planet for the future.
The writer is an M Phil Research
Fellow at the Institute of Environmental Science, Rajshahi University