Research to inform teaching in times of climate and public health emergencies

published 10 June 2021 updated 14 June 2021

On the second and last day of Education International’s Research Network (ResNet), participants focused on teaching in times of climate and health emergencies. They underlined that it is crucial to build an evidence base for union advocacy and policy making that highlights educators and their expertise in times of crisis and beyond.

Welcoming ResNet participants on 9 June, Education International Deputy General Secretary, Haldis Holst, announced that the major research panel of the day is linked to EI’s campaign for climate change education, Teach for the Planet. This campaign aims for:

  • Greater recognition of the role of education and research in the fight against climate change
  • Country commitments to ensuring quality climate change education for all
  • A teacher-led approach to quality climate change education.

To support its campaign, Education International is conducting research that will monitor progress toward the campaign’s goals. In particular, Holst added, it will look at the extent of country commitments to climate change education made as part of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) review processes and track the extent to which these commitments align with Education International’s understanding of quality climate change education, as defined in Education International’s Manifesto on Quality Climate Change Education for All.

Iselin Mulvik of PPMI – European research and policy analysis centre– also presented the preliminary findings of research conducted jointly by Education International and UNESCO about teachers’ perspectives on teaching on climate change and sustainable development. This research also explores teacher preparedness to teach global citizenship education – specifically education on human rights including gender equality, and cultural tolerance and diversity.

Union representatives responded to this presentation and informed other ResNet participants of their organisations’ activities in relation to climate change education and education for sustainable development.

Involving all educational staff in the provision of ESD and GCED

Regretting that, in Quebec, global citizenship education (GCED) and environmental education is not integrated as such into the curriculum, Dominique Bernier of the Centrale des Syndicats du Québec (CSQ) welcomed the fact that the ACTES movement- Collective Actions for Environmental and Social Transition - reinforces the practice of educators, for example with education in responsible consumption and education for sustainable development (ESD).

“We must involve all educational staff in the provision of ESD and GCED, including education support staff, to carry out concrete experiences confronting students with climate change. There is actually a real enthusiasm among education personnel for that,” she explained.

Six areas of actions to implement quality GCED and ESD for all

In his intervention, Sifiso Ndlovu of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) made some suggestions for how education unions could support the implementation of quality GCED and ESD for all. He mentioned the following six areas for action:

  1. Development of continental collaborative strategies for monitoring ESD-GCED
  2. Developing ESD-GCED national assessment frameworks
  3. Formation of technology mediated networks for sharing best practices and resources
  4. Building up national ESD-GCED profiles
  5. Membership education and training
  6. Mapping national nexus in ESD-GCED and supporting their activities on identified themes

Participants further heard lightning talks – short presentations by education unionists of their organisations’ research work, one of them about union action on climate change.

Looking into the future, they also split into two groups to debate orientations for Education International’s upcoming research on gendered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and teacher leadership and technology.