Climate change is an issue that affects all of us but particularly our youth who will inherit its future impacts.
In response, Nepal has identified the need to integrate climate change into education curricula.
Climate change is an issue that affects all of us but particularly our youth who will inherit its future impacts. Recognizing this fact, Nepal’s Strategic Program for Climate Resilience (SPCR) identified the need to integrate climate change into the curricula of schools and universities. The aim was to ensure students were equipped with the information they need to tackle the issue from an early age so that they become responsible citizens of the country.
Our initiative had two targets. First, integrate climate change into the national curriculum for science courses in Grades 9 and 10 (ages 15 -16). Second, work with three universities to improve the curricula in environment science, natural resource management and hydrology/meteorology at Bachelor’s and Master’s level.
Initially it was not clear whether to develop an entire course dedicated to climate change or to integrate climate change information into existing courses. Discussions were conducted with representatives of each of the institutions and, based on their recommendations, decisions taken on a case-by-case basis.
A working group played an important role in designing the curriculum and materials. The question of how to engage this group, and to ensure that they were given enough time to prepare the curriculum, was an important consideration. Additional materials such as self-learning, glossary, syllabus and micro-syllabus and course manuals were also designed to assist students. Teacher training was held in both schools and universities to ensure educators were prepared to deliver the new material.
Funds for a practical exercise were also provided to the students studying in various colleges of Pokhara University by the project so that students could apply their learning. Students conducted the field exercise in Sankhu, as it is close to Kathmandu Valley and lies at the foot hills of Shivapuri National Park, which was related to the climate change in the area. The updated information on climate change is now well integrated into the curriculum of schools and universities, and students have started studying the courses; and in many cases, exams have been undertaken in the new curricula.
Curriculum officials, university management and educators were closely involved in the process and all curriculum materials received official approval from the Academia Council for universities and schools to be adopted in the institution. Please follow this link for the publications related to the curriculum.
Elements of success:
Institutional ownership: All the courses are now owned by the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) and the relevant universities, and are now part of their official curriculum. The students have started studying courses and in many cases exams have been given too. Ownership was ensured by closely involving officials from government and educational institutions throughout the process, and ensuring that the process aligned with the standard processes of these institutions. As Working Group members were identified by the relevant institutions it became an obligation for them to ensure the curriculum was completed and adopted by their institution.
Capacity building and resources: The project ensured that schools and universities are well equipped by providing resources (e.g.: books and online materials about climate change) and building capacity in the form of teacher training.
Learning-by-doing: Based on a request from one of the universities involved, the project provided funding to conduct a field-based practical exercise to the students of this university. The ‘pilot’ exercise was successful and subsequently rolled out into the teaching processes of all the universities.
Sustainability: After teacher training was conducted in 100 pilot schools, a teacher training manual was prepared, in order to help CDC to provide further training to remaining schools in the country.
Government leadership: the project needed to collaborate with a variety of institutions, which at times presented specific challenges. However, government leadership was strengthened as the Ministry of Population and Environment took a lead on project activity, which contributed to government representatives’ willingness to take a lead in resolving issues.
Champions within partner institutions: since the project had to rely on the CDC and the universities to prepare the curriculum on time, it was important that they followed the timeline set by these institutions. This presented a challenge given that the official curriculum revision processes didn’t necessarily happen regularly and could be slow. The total process typically took 3 years from initiating the revisions to securing institutional approval for the new or updated curriculum. To continue to drive progress forward within this overall constraint, champions within the CDC and Universities were identified to take a lead on facilitating the in-house process.
This blog post was prepared by Ms Nabina Shrestha, former Deputy Team Leader of Component 3 – ADB TA 7984 – Mainstreaming Climate Change Risk Management in Development, PPCR Nepal (February 2013 - January 2017).