COP28 UAE Changemakers Majlis discusses redesign of education systems to foster sustainable development

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) hosted the 13th session of the COP28 UAE Changemakers Majlis in the UAE Pavilion at COP28 Blue Zone.

The discussion underlined the role of education in sustainable development and how the education system can be designed for the future with sustainability as its cornerstone.

The Majlis hosted a diverse set of speakers from the education sector in the UAE and other countries, including school and university students, researchers, teachers, professors, policymakers, advisors, delegates and strategists to discuss the importance of education transformation for building a more resilient, empowered, and sustainability-minded next generation.

Environmental scientist Sheikha Alshafar, a researcher at the Ministry of Education, introduced the priorities in transforming the education system, such as the need for overhauling parts to focus on sustainability and how the UAE was implementing its ‘Greening Education’ strategy by integrating sustainability into all
core areas of education.

Khulood Al Atiyat, Senior Strategist at Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, moderated the discussion and asked the participants about their thoughts on how the education systems need to catch up with economies, communities, and individual behaviours constantly evolving. She said that only 53% of the world’s national education curricula make any reference to climate change.

‘Memorable moments in education stem from the experiences that happen outside of the classroom in terms of holistic experiences,’ said Al Atiyat, adding that these experiences can be used to change the mindset, reimagine education and add the sustainability pillar to learning.

The Majlis agreed that to be more environmentally conscious and aware of the impacts of climate change, the existing education systems need to be fundamentally overhauled.

As systems approach is essential to driving the change, and all the stakeholders must contribute to overhauling the education system. The PPP (public private partne
rship) model should be integrated into education, and learning should be a fundamental part of life, not just gained through textbooks.

The Majlis also explored if parents are willing to change their perception of education and that to include sustainability, the education system needs to be reimagined.

The participants pressed on the need for integrating environmental conservation and sustainability into the curricula at all levels – from primary to higher education. The participants said this should be a priority for countries and governments and the change would only be actioned if it is backed by policy action.

Educating the educators is extremely important to make the change and integrating technology was a critical too, the participants said. They said that alongside integrating AI, metaverse and VR, it is important to ensure that the students use them to their advantage.

The Majlis agreed that experiential learning should be embedded in school education, and students should be encouraged to be clos
e to nature. Climate, environment and sustainability must be an integral part of the curricula and not an extra-curricular activity.

Sheikha Alshafar shared insights on the Ministry of Education’s Greening Education in partnership with UNESCO and urged all regional partners to join the initiative.

‘Sustainability workshops, activities and events are part of the process, and we are making progress by having more stakeholders join the movement,’ she explained.

In conclusion, the Majlis emphasised the need to ingrain a culture of sustainability amongst youth and encourage them to appreciate nature.

Source: Emirates News Agency