Namibia continues to increasingly face climate related problems such as drought, desertification and flooding. The question, however, is ‘How robust are the country’s institutions of learning as platforms for the design and dissemination of environmental education?’
This question is important for three reasons. First, I ask the question in the wake of the recently launched African Youth Climate Hub (AYCH), an incubator based at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco. The second reason I ask the above question is to initiate a discussion regarding the relevance of Namibia’s teacher education curriculum on environmental education pedagogy.
Third, I find the AYCH as a unique continental initiative, and fascinating because of its emphasis on the youth.
Let us discuss each of the three reasons. Regarding the launch of the AYCH in January 2021, reports indicate that the incubator is a platform aimed at helping the African youth with innovative start-up solutions to climate-related challenges.
One can only assume that Namibian high school and university youth are aware of this innovation based in Morocco. Namibian youth need awareness of initiatives such as the AYCH to help them transform their perceptions about the adverse effects of climate change to planet earth.
Also, exposing Namibian youth to innovative initiatives such as the Morocco-based incubator will help them learn ‘best practices’ in environmental management across the continent and beyond Africa.
The bad news is that helping school and university youth to learn ‘best practices’ in environmental management will not happen accidentally. It will require a transformed teacher education system that will equip educators with knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours to effectively handle an environmental management curriculum.
While it might be easy to talk about sustainable development goals and climate change, one wonders, however, whether Namibia’s teacher education system has integrated and adequately trained educators to teach such life and death issues in the classroom setting.
Climate change is real. Therefore, at the centre of any change will be the requirement of education authorities to transform the teacher education system that will prepare teachers and their pupils to become ambassadors of climate change. Among others, teacher education programmes should enable teachers and pupils to learn key aspects of law, strategy, green economy, marketing and communication, psychology, technology and climate knowledge. But that is only one part of the equation.
We are all familiar with the African proverb that says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ About 35% of Namibia’s population are youth. I am thus of the view that it will take a wider community to educate the youth about sustainable development and climate change.
This will be possible if the private and public sectors establish partnerships to promote and create opportunities that will allow the youth to participate in innovations like the AYCH initiative. It is important to note that the future belongs to the youth of this country and continent, under the stewardship of their elders. Thus, the success of any future economy will depend on the involvement of its youth in issues of sustainable development. In essence, it will require a multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach and a population-wide curriculum framework for Namibia’s youth and citizens to understand and adopt sustainable lifestyles.
In addition, mainstreaming the adverse effects of climate change in the enacted curriculum will enhance the youth’s understanding of climate change.
Another key climate change mitigating strategy will include nationwide campaigns involving political parties, faith-based organisations, civil society organisations, workers’ unions, traditional authorities, and so on. One can assume that the combined efforts of these groups will undoubtedly disrupt the negative impacts of climate change.
To teach the youth about climate change, Namibia will further need to adopt the information and communication strategy that was used decades ago to mitigate the negative effects of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. To change human values, beliefs, manners and thinking patterns, the country will need to formulate strategies that speak to the behaviours of the majority group in Namibia’s population.