By Student Delegate Leslie Terrones
Education is one of the main pillars that serve as the basis of every society. Its importance has been acknowledged worldwide, being considered as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The SDG 4 focuses on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Considering this, it is in the hands of the governments to assure the provision of such service, making sure every citizen in their territory has access to it.
Even if the situation is way better than it used to be decades ago, people still face many barriers to accessing education such as lack of funding, having no teacher -or an untrained one-, long distances to school, lack of learning material or even having been born the wrong gender, etc. This is even worse in developing countries where around 59 million children do not have access to education as a basic need. One of the consequences of not having access to education is -amongst others- the emergence of social problems, as the people who can’t afford it or don’t receive the proper information do not have the right tools to analyze the pros and cons of the activities that are being developed in their territories and might not understand their impacts.
Despite that, many Ministries of Education in Small states have started to incorporate the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) approach into their education reform initiatives and efforts. Also, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has helped many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) implement the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD in their school action plans, especially focusing on Climate Change Education and its inclusion in policies, plans, and programs.
According to a report published by UNESCO, due to the vulnerability SIDS face due to climate change, education plays a key role. Strengthening the adaptive capacity of these nations through risk assessment, education of girls and women, educational programs that explicitly prepare communities for natural disasters and education systems and infrastructure will equip them with the right tools to improve their adaptation capacity.
The Seychelles has set an example in implementing environmental education policies and programs amongst SIDS. Since 1994, when the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles was created, the country has worked on ways to provide knowledge to its citizens regarding marine and terrestrial biodiversity and conservation opportunities and capacities. The Save Our Seas Foundation has also helped fund several marine education and awareness projects.
The Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) has also been working on some projects regarding the ESD. At the time, they’re implementing programs related to marine conservation and ocean pollution, which aim not only to enforce the knowledge of the marine environment amidst their population but to also raise awareness of the effects of waste disposal into the waters that surround the island.