“Education about climate action must not be a coincidence”
These words of BEACON partner Václav Šebek of SEVEn summarise the goal of the vertical workshop that was held on 22-23 January in Prague, Czechia as part of the BEACON project. For the workshop, BEACON partners Navigant, UfU, and SEVEn brought together headmasters, teachers, and mayors with representatives of the Czech Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Regional Development, and the National Pedagogic Institute. This ‘vertical integration’ workshop served as a platform to inform and connect actors from the local level with policy makers in the national ministries. Together the participants identified needs for improvement and concrete next steps towards climate change education. For example, methods and findings from the BEACON schools in Czechia will feed into the process of revising the national school curriculum to better reflect climate action.
“Within the BEACON project we recognize that knowledge is one of the most powerful tools to transform communities and society to a sustainable and carbon-neutral future and that educated, informed people will drive this change”, said Moritz Schäfer of the global energy and climate consultancy Navigant. With the experience gathered to date in BEACON schools, the workshop addressed the question: How can we ensure that every child in Czechia will learn about climate change and how to mitigate it? To tackle this question, participants discussed incentives and barriers for taking action, as well as current situation and ways forward.
Through the workshop, it became clear that an updated national curriculum will play a key role. As “it is up to the school to decide whether the topic of climate is dealt with” stated Jiří Kulich (expert for environmental education), “we therefore need better anchoring in the [national] curricula.” This sentiment was also echoed in the context of Czechia’s larger climate ambitions. “To reduce CO2 emissions, we need to integrate climate change and climate action into national school curricula,” said Miroslav Novák of the Ministry of Environment. By bringing stakeholders from the local and national levels together, the workshop was able to facilitate important discussions that advance climate change education in Czechia to ensure that education about climate action is not left to chance.
The BEACON project supports schools and municipalities in building capacity, creating networks, developing educational material, and carrying out concrete climate action measures. “We see a great demand from local and national stakeholders to fill the vertical communication gap. We are currently planning vertical integration workshops in Portugal, Poland, and Bulgaria,” states Sarah Gül of Navigant.