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Advancing environment and climate change education

About the programme

N.Macedonia is prone to climatic and environmental disasters such as flash floods, landslides, wildfires, extreme temperatures, droughts, storms and earthquakes. As temperatures continue to rise, extreme events are predicted to become more intense.

On top of climate-based hazards, air pollution is at dangerously high levels, threatening human health across the country. The capital, Skopje, is among the most polluted cities in Europe, along with other cities in the country, particularly in the autumn and winter months.

Air pollution negatively affects children’s health and development. Air pollution is a severe and growing threat to people of all ages – and there are three main reasons why it is particularly bad for children’s health and development:

  • Children breathe faster than adults. A typical adult takes between 12 and 18 breaths a minute. A 3-year old child takes 20 to 30 breaths a minute, and a new-born takes 30 to 40. This means that young children are breathing in the polluted air 2-3 times as much as adults are.
  • Children’s lungs and other organs are developing. This makes them particularly vulnerable to damage. This can have both immediate effect (asthma) and long-term effects – even to the extent of reducing their lung volume for life.
  • A child’s brain is not yet fully formed. The air pollutants can cross from the lungs to the bloodstream, and from the bloodstream to the brain. There, they cause brain cells to inflame, damaging the brain cells and affecting the child’s cognitive and intellectual development.

Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the programme is an inter-sectoral effort, involving all relevant institutions, to advance environmental and climate change education for future generations.

The programme consists of two pillars.

The first pillar

The first pillar of the programme is establishing foundations for relevant and consistent environment and climate change education and strengthening the system and services offered to students, parents and teachers to nurture knowledge and skills for problem solving and environmental sustainability.

1.1. Analysis and mapping

The relevance and coherence of environment and climate change education will be analyzed. The first part will focus on providing deeper insight into the kind of policies that are in place, procedures and protocols that are being implemented. The focus of the second part of the analysis is on identifying the practices that exist on a school level, including availability of scientific equipment and knowledge for experiential learning and what strategies exist to mobilize these resources.

1.2. Polices and guiding documents

The findings and recommendations from the analysis on education policies will provide groundwork for enhancing guiding documents that are yet to be developed or revised. The programme will ensure that policies and guiding documents in early childhood education, primary and secondary education incorporate contemporary and scientifically proven approaches to environment and climate change education.

1.3. Teacher’s professional learning communities

Sound and sustainable training and capacity building in environment and climate change education for teachers will be ensured by creating professional learning communities. A variety of online teaching and learning resources will be developed and adapted to provide teachers with access to various quality, personalized and relevant learning opportunities within a digital environment, fostering collaboration and shared practice.

1.4. Public awareness

Using communication for development to build public demand for climate change education and shape attitudes conducive to environmental protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation. Developed with and for young people, strategic communication interventions will be developed and implemented to inspire climate action among the general public with a focus on young people.

The second pillar

The second pillar is going to provide children, young boys and girls, with contemporary knowledge and skills, and empower them to actively contribute and enhance the community’s response to environmental impact and climate change.

2.1. Play-based activities

Play holds an important role in children’s learning, and supports intellectual, emotional, and social wellbeing. Constructive play also offers a great opportunity for children to develop essential skills to learn, and nurture values to care about the environment. The programme is going to develop play-based activities and games that stimulate early learning through experience and acquisition of complex concepts about the environment and climate change.

2.2. Experiential learning and science hubs

The programme will provide the necessary resources to offer contemporary and exciting experiential learning by establishing science hubs and programmes for experiential learning in urban and rural areas across the country. This activity aims to make sure that the school’s theoretical knowledge complements with practical, hands-on learning experiences for children and young people.

2.3. Social innovation and eco-entrepreneurship

The programme supports young people in solving local environmental problems and acquiring skills and knowledge that help them develop meaningful eco-responsible businesses that advance environmental sustainability and create local green jobs.

Direct beneficiaries of the programme are children and young people from 3 to 19 years old; school staff, education advisors, state education inspectors.

Indirect beneficiaries of the programme are: parents, entrepreneurs and the general population.

Institutional Partners: