COP28 UAE: Ministry of Education designs novel pathway towards greener schools

Emirates to establish first-ever Education Pavilion in history of conference

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Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 25 Apr 2023, 6:50 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Apr 2023, 8:07 PM

In preparation for the hosting of COP28, the Ministry of Education has announced a path-breaking roadmap to make schools and learners climate-ready in the country – a model that can be adapted globally.

Entering a partnership with the UN agencies UNICEF and UNESCO, the ministry aims to implement a unique cross- and co-curriculum framework in all schools, develop a comprehensive training plan covering all principals and at least one teacher per school, establish a first-ever Education Pavilion in COP’s history among others.

The ministry during a press conference presented a blueprint of the comprehensive ‘greening’ reforms focused on four aspects: schools, learning, capacities and communities.

Announcing the ‘UAE’s Green Education Partnership Roadmap in preparation for COP28’, Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education, underscored the importance of the UN Climate Change Conference and emphasised the need for global cooperation to integrate the climate agenda into education.

“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 UAE's hosting of COP28 presents another opportunity to highlight the country's efforts in this field and mobilise international efforts to include green education within educational systems in the region and the world,” Dr Al Falasi said.

50% green accredited

Dr Amna Al-Dahak Al-Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education for the Care and Building Capacity Sector, told reporters that the ministry will transform 50 per cent of all the UAE’s schools and campuses to be green accredited with 35 per cent schools to be registered by end of this year.

The ministry will provide a seven-point framework for schools and universities to become more environmentally friendly and reduce their environmental impact while promoting sustainable practices among students and the wider community. More than 200 eco-schools have been green accredited last year.

100% cross and co-curriculum

Since 2019, the ministry has taken a significant step in this direction by partnering with IRENA to develop a cross-curriculum framework. This framework covers all 23 curricula within the country for all age groups, ensuring that students at all levels are exposed to sustainable development concepts.

Dr Amna noted that this year the ministry is developing a framework and guidebooks, in alignment with the cross-curriculum framework, to guide the creation of sustainability focused co-curriculum activities for different levels of educational institutions in the country.

Dr Amna said the core topics will be energy, the earth biosphere, consumption climate action, and innovations for sustainability.

100% school with master educators

The ministry has partnered with UNICEF and Office for Climate Education to develop a comprehensive training plan that covers all principals and at least one teacher (master trainer) per school. Master-trainers will have the mission and responsibility to train all the remaining teachers. The training plan includes the ‘Educator Voice’ and ‘Children Voice’ initiative, which aims to empower educators and children to play an active role in addressing environmental challenges. Dr Amna said that training will be provided to more than 2,400 educators and 1,400 principals.

“We at UNICEF are pleased to join the Greening Capacities Initiative led by the Ministry of Education in the United Arab Emirates. We look forward to a strategic partnership that aims to provide children and young people with climate education and green skills, which are crucial to help them adapt to and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Through this partnership and in the lead-up to COP28, UNICEF will support the training of school principals and teachers in all of the schools of UAE on climate education. Open-source learning materials will also be available for educators in the UAE and abroad,” said Jumana Haj-Ahmad, UNICEF Gulf Deputy Representative

First ‘Education Pavilion’ at COP

In Partnership with UNESCO, the Education Pavilion at COP28 – the first in COPs history, will provide a base of operations for educating and inspiring the world about the Green Education Partnership. Acting as an international platform, the facility will be the centre to learn how the ministry has come to tackle climate change actions and what measures we can take to ensure its essential place in the ecosystem. There will be 13 days of activations.

“UNESCO will work closely with the Ministry in co-designing the first Education Pavilion in the history of COP together with the Greening Education Partnership (GEP),” said Salah Khaled, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for the Gulf States and Yemen. “Finally, UNESCO will collaborate with the ministry on raising awareness of educators and learners about the importance of safeguarding oases, an exceptional eco-system and observatory of climate change, that is a common feature throughout several Arab countries.”

Unique model for 7 emirates

The ministry, in partnership with UNESCO and the University Task Force, 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 engage schools and universities in promoting sustainable development.

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