Meghalaya must introduce “climate change” into the school curriculum
By James Sangma
The coronavirus has changed the view of the world, and extreme weather events around the world have brought the distant threat of climate change to our doorstep. Our consumption has exceeded the regeneration rate of the planet. Despite various sustainable development strategies implemented across the world, there is no escaping the reality of 1.5 ° C.
There is a tidal wave of strong public sentiment as well as political pressure to treat nature as an asset in order to avoid the civilization-level challenge of climate change and it has been widely stated that governments have l opportunity and moral responsibility, especially after Covid-19 to use their fiscal stimulus programs to put the economy back on more resilient, inclusive and sustainable terms towards a nature-positive economy.
The recent school strikes led by Greta Thunberg and millions of young students around the world to protest against inaction in the face of climate change and their uncertain human future across the world are a true reflection of the civic generation of Generation Y and of Generation Z’s attitudes toward our planet’s future environment.
We have to think about intergenerational equity.
The Meghalaya, with its forest-based economy and nature-inspired spirituality rooted in its indigenous origins, must lead by example in leading the way towards a regenerative and conservation-based economy through public education in climate change and conservation in order to shape our human capital / young demographic dividend towards the 21st century ideals of a sustainable planet. It is essential that our young generation is upgraded on the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes necessary to build a green, low emissions and climate resilient future.
The Meghalaya has one of the highest forest cover in the country as well as one of the most distinctive ecological heritages in the world and a state on the front line of climate change, it is essential for us to introduce and train our young generation towards indigenous peoples conservation approaches and building a cognition to adapt to the ever renewed climate change reality in the world through a curriculum on conservation and climate change in our education system.
The idea is to provide an education that will allow people to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions: economic, environmental and societal which will be in line with the geo-economic shift towards the organic and green economies of the future. In addition, Meghalaya, with its young demographic dividend, must help create human capital formation in tune with its fragile ecological existence and global green practices.
Progressive states like Odisha have just made disaster management a compulsory subject in schools and colleges, and Italy became the first country in the world to make climate change subject compulsory in schools, followed by New -Zeeland.
It is also important for our young population of Meghalaya to know its natural capital, its indigenous environment and the conservation protocols inscribed in our ancestral designs Khasi, Garo and Jaintia and of course our biodiversity heritage to be approached to adapt to reality. new bio-economies, green action and low-carbon livelihood opportunities of the future and also to help the State in its transition to the position of environmental leader on the lines of other forest economies in the world such as Costa Rica.
Climate change is a ‘hyper-object’ as Timothy Morton put it – a multi-pronged problem that requires intervention and an overhaul of economic and social structures and institutions as well as the mindset it has. ranges from adaptation to low-carbon lifestyles to livelihoods, from energy use to manufacturing and eating habits. It is not a theoretical subject but must be combined with practical knowledge. Biodiversity tours, regenerative agriculture courses, bioeconomy workforce development and environmental “hours of service” should also be part of this initiative.
Essentially, we need to build human and institutional capacity through education, values and skills which are essential to revive Green Frontier industries and models in our state and we need to remember that today’s students are the stakeholders of tomorrow. Climate change and conservation as a school subject mark the beginning of our transition to a first state of the environment and ensuring intergenerational equity.
(The author is the Minister of Forests and Environment, Government of Meghalaya)