May 2020, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Ethiopia is taking concrete steps to integrate climate change learning into school curricula. In the beginning of 2019, the government of Ethiopia under the leadership of the Ministry Education announced that it will be undergoing a curriculum reform process, changing from the current “8-2-2” system that has been in place for well over two decades to the “6-2-4” system. With this upcoming change, climate change learning is one of the many issues that have been presented on the table to be integrated into the national curriculum.
In 2016, a preliminary study on the status of Climate Change Learning in the Ethiopian Education Sector was conducted by the Environment, Forestry and Climate Change Commission (previously Ministry) with support from the UN CC:Learn. It is for these reasons that the Government of Ethiopia has developed and adopted the National Climate Change Education Strategy (2017-2030). One of the priorities listed in the CCE strategy is strengthening the integration of climate change education into the formal education system with special attention to primary and secondary levels of education. The content analysis review showed that the current curricula, almost at all levels, focus on environmental protection education with limited and patchy content and knowledge on climate change.
Over the past months, Curriculum Development and Implementation Directorate, Ministry of Education (MoE) along with the Environment, Forestry and Climate Change Commission (EFCCC), and UN CC:Learn have worked together to speed up this process. One of the main outcomes of this collaboration has been the development and acceptance of the “Integrating Climate Change into the Ethiopian Curriculum - An Annotated Guideline for Curriculum Developers”.
Ethiopia's concern about the effects of climate change is not unfounded. The country is particularly exposed to the consequences of climate change due to its reliance on climate-sensitive activities, such as rain-fed agriculture and livestock production. Moreover, longer drought seasons have been having an impact on water, sanitation and hygiene. Water scarcity has been reducing access to clean, drinkable water, while preventing people from bathing and handwashing. In this context, raising awareness of these issues among the younger generations is of paramount importance to addressing these challenges.
In this context, the Ministry of Education had identified the following priorities to serve as a baseline for the development of the new curriculum, which have been integrated into the guideline:
- To be able to guide and drive the development of curricula aligned to the vision of a sustainable world on a local and global scale;
- To integrate climate change education into the curriculum as the most effective way to respond to the increasing threat to Ethiopia’s sustainability, locally and globally;
- To develop a guideline to ensure that teachers are capacitated to act as mediators and implementers of a climate change education approach within a 21st century curriculum;
- To ensure that appropriate and high-quality learning resources and support systems are available and accessible to teachers and learners to deliver the curriculum.
The guideline was developed through consultative workshops with content experts from the EFCCC and curriculum development experts from the Ministry of Education, in August and December 2019 respectively. The workshops main objectives were to create consensus among experts on the key concepts of climate change that should be taken into account and to decide on the approaches and techniques for effectively integrating them. Both workshops highlighted the importance of education in addressing climate change, as well as the role climate change learning can play in achieving Ethiopia's Climate Change Education Strategy 2017-2030.
Once the guideline was finalized, it was formally submitted and accepted into the current curriculum reform process.
Next steps in further supporting this process would look at training of textbook authors on developing climate change content for climate change carrier subjects and climate change teaching, in early 2020.