Written by Franco Rashid
Climate education plays a significant role in citizen awareness and leadership to take action on climate change and utilize natural resources sustainably.
Uganda is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and often regarded as “the pearl of Africa” due to its rich biodiversity and natural wonders. But it is also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and climate variability as the economy and the well-being of its people are inextricably connected to the climate. The impacts of climate change are widespread which can be seen in increased food insecurity; shifts in the spread of diseases like malaria; extreme weather events including flood damage to developmental infrastructure and human settlements.
Overview of the Status of Climate Education
Against this backdrop, climate education plays a significant role in citizen awareness and leadership to take action on climate change and utilize natural resources sustainably. Education will help students understand and learn how to propose solutions that critically address climate change-related issues and live a sustainable life. Access to information on time also helps us to predict how much rainfall the next winter might bring or how far sea levels will rise due to warmer sea temperatures which in turn helps us to adapt.
Uganda is taking leadership at its country level to combat climate change. According to Uganda’s updated NDC, it commits to an ambitious economy-wide mitigation target in 2030 of 24.7% reduction below the Business As Usual (BAU), a progression from the 22% reduction target communicated in the first NDC in 2016.
Uganda integrated six courses from basic notions of climate change to monitoring and climate modeling techniques, disaster risk reduction, and ecosystem-based management.
Mainstreaming of climate education in the lower secondary schools curriculum began in 2012 with support from the RDE. One such example is Makerere University in Kampala which introduced a Master of Science degree in climate change that started in 2015/2016.
Uganda integrated six courses from basic notions of climate change to monitoring and climate modeling techniques, disaster risk reduction, and ecosystem-based management. This was complemented by TOT, training of the trainer’s workshop. This included two follow-up online coaching sessions for mentors to support the integration of the courses into the University programs like Uganda Christian University (UCU). The plan recognizes research, innovation, and training as core functions that will enormously contribute to meeting national and global challenges, as well as to the sustainable development of Uganda and the region.
- Introduction climate change- from science to action in Uganda
- Climate modeling – the science of climate change and projections
- Climate risk assessment and monitoring
- Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and adoption
Uganda established a national strategy and action plan to strengthen human resources and skills to advance green, low-emission, and climate-resilient development in Uganda from 2013-2022 under National Climate Change Learning Strategy. Uganda has created an enabling environment in each district, built the capacity of the district officials, resolved the bottleneck to access quality education and help plan and coordinate education delivery at the district level to improve education governance on climate education.
Resources and challenges
Structural issues such as inadequate technical expertise, unequal funding, little communication between the districts and the communities, and poor or inappropriate climate education in the schools all impede efficient climate policy implementation in Uganda. And other barriers like insufficient funding, poor involvement of the citizens (Youths, Women, and Persons with Disability), low staffing levels, and lack of coordinated planning across ministries hinder the implementation of climate action policies in Uganda.
A Call to Action
Equal financial resources and authority should be provided to districts to develop locally appropriate climate adaptation plans with climate awareness and education as a priority. The implementation of climate policies will benefit from stronger inter-sectorial linkages, institutionalization, cross-coordination, multilateralism, and meaningful youth engagement at all levels.
The Nationally crafted policies need to better reflect the social and financial contexts at local levels to ensure effective policy uptake and implementation. Education can be the key to addressing this.
Writer: Franco Rashid is a country Focal Point of Mock COP in Uganda and also a delegate of the Mock Education Ministers Summit. He comes from a community severely affected by climate change. This impact has resulted in increased poverty, food insecurity, and a higher rate of school dropouts. Franco firmly believes that climate change stands as the most critical environmental issue affecting the people of Uganda.