In preparation for hosting COP28, the Ministry of Education has announced a ground-breaking roadmap to prepare schools and students for climate change — a model that can be replicated globally.
In collaboration with UNICEF and UNESCO, the ministry intends to implement a unique cross- and co-curriculum framework in all schools, create a comprehensive training plan for all principals and at least one teacher per school, and establish the first-ever Education Pavilion in COP history, among other things.
During a press conference, the ministry unveiled a blueprint for sweeping 'greening' changes centred on four areas: schools, learning, capacities, and communities.
Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of Education, announced the 'UAE's Green Education Partnership Roadmap in preparation for COP28', emphasising the importance of the UN Climate Change Conference and the necessity for worldwide cooperation to incorporate the climate theme into education.
"At the Ministry of Education, we have a critical role to play in advancing the role of education in addressing climate change by developing environmentally friendly curricula and schools, as well as training educators to build sustainable green communities." "The UAE's hosting of COP28 provides another opportunity to highlight the country's efforts in this field and mobilise international efforts to incorporate green education into educational systems in the region and around the world," Dr. Al Falasi added.
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 plans to green-accredit 50% of all UAE schools and campuses by the end of this year, with 35% already registered.
The government will establish a seven-point framework for schools and universities to become more environmentally friendly and minimise their environmental effect, while also encouraging sustainable practices among students and the general public. Last year, over 200 eco-schools were green recognised.
Since 2019, the ministry has taken an important step in this regard by collaborating with IRENA to create a cross-curriculum framework. This framework encompasses all 23 curricula across the country for all age groups, guaranteeing that students at all levels are exposed to notions of sustainable development.
Dr. Amna stated that the ministry is building a framework and guide books this year, in conformity with the cross-curriculum framework, to guide the development of sustainability-focused co-curriculum activities for various levels of educational institutions in the country.
According to Dr. Amna, the main topics will be energy, the earth biosphere, consumption climate action, and sustainability technologies.
The Ministry of Education has collaborated with UNICEF and the Office for Climate Education to create a comprehensive training plan for all principals and at least one teacher (master trainer) per school. Master-trainers will be tasked with training all of the remaining teachers. The 'Educator Voice' and 'Children Voice' initiatives are part of the training plan, and they aim to empower educators and children to take an active role in tackling environmental concerns. More than 2,400 instructors and 1,400 principals will receive training, according to Dr. Amna.
"We at UNICEF are delighted to join the Greening Capacities Initiative led by the UAE Ministry of Education." We look forward to a strategic cooperation that will teach climate education and green skills to children and young people, which will help them adapt to and prepare for the effects of climate change. UNICEF will provide climate education training for school principals and teachers in all UAE schools through this cooperation and in the run-up to COP28. "Open-source learning materials will be made available to educators in the UAE and around the world," said Jumana Haj-Ahmad, UNICEF Gulf Deputy Representative.
The Education Pavilion at COP28, the first in COP history, will serve as a base of operations for informing and inspiring the world about the Green Education Partnership in collaboration with UNESCO. The facility will serve as an international platform for learning how the ministry has come to address climate change initiatives and what steps may be taken to ensure its vital role in the ecosystem. The activities will last 13 days.
"UNESCO will collaborate closely with the Ministry and the Greening Education Partnership (GEP) to co-design the first Education Pavilion in the history of the COP," said Salah Khaled, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for the Gulf States and Yemen. "Finally, UNESCO will work with the ministry to raise awareness among educators and students about the importance of protecting oases, an exceptional ecosystem and climate change observatory that is found in several Arab countries."
In collaboration with UNESCO and the University Task Force, the ministry is establishing a 'School and University Engagement' model to enhance community sustainability. Each emirate will have its own way of engaging schools and universities in supporting sustainable development under this model.