Skopje, 15 December 2020 – At a launch meeting today UNICEF with the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Embassy of Sweden in Skopje, announced a new programme focused on environmental education, climate action for children.
“We are really excited to launch this programme today because while it addresses an important issue for the whole country it also focuses on creating opportunities and building young people’s capacity to empower them to take action so that change can come. This includes building their skills for collaboration, critical thinking about living in a healthy environment, climate change and making responsible choices in everyday life We have witnessed the power of young climate activists demanding more climate action and we want this programme to create opportunities so that young people from this country can lead national initiatives,” said Patrizia DiGiovanni, UNICEF Representative during an introductory meeting between the partners.
“Climate change and environmental degradation are becoming the greatest challenges of our time; education and awareness-raising starting from the youngest age are essential elements of the global and local response. Knowledge development plays an important role in building healthy, green and climate-resilient societies, where the children of today become the informed and engaged young citizens of tomorrow. The connection of the project goals with the country reform processes make this joint effort relevant for the EU perspective and the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans as well.” said Ms Kristin Forsgren Bengtsson, Ambassador of Sweden in North Macedonia.”
Covering pre-school, primary and secondary education one aspect of the programme will be ensuring that teachers are provided with the resources and capacities to deliver engaging content and activities to students to support environmental education. The programme will also establish mechanisms for professional development and peer learning to support teachers.
“The appreciation and protection of our environment is taught and nurtured from an early age. Incorporating environmental and climate change education in curricula is very important but should be accompanied with solid elective and extracurricular activities and professional development opportunities for our teachers. We are committed to a comprehensive and evidence-based reform of the education system and advancing environmental education is a part of this process,” said Mila Carovska, Minister of Education and Science.
The programme will also provide children on with a wide variety of platforms and tools for experiential, hands-on learning in the natural sciences. It will also create venues and opportunities to practice and foster agency, social innovation and entrepreneurship.
“The importance of early childhood education is well established by science. In kindergartens, we have maybe the best opportunity to nurture children so that they develop attitudes and behaviours that translate into their adult life and shape our culture and our communities. Through play-based activities children express and expand their understanding of their activities and the natural world around them, and using this potential pre-school education can lay the crucial foundation for environmentally conscious and proactive citizens,” said Jagoda Shahpaska, Minister of Labour and Social Policy
Ultimately, the programme strives to contribute towards a system that creates public demand for solutions to environment and climate change challenges and supports young people to actively engage in responding to the increasing risks.
“As Minister of Environment and Physical Planning I had the privilege many times to discuss with young people their views and concerns about the environment and climate change. These discussions have been among the most refreshing and inspiring moments that really put our responsibility into perspective. What I am particularly proud of is that while their opinions and suggestions are most honest and straightforward, they are also very constructive and strategically sound. This is an impulse that we need to nurture and allow it to lead our work,” said Naser Nuredini Minister of Environment and Physical Planning
Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the 3-year programme is an inter-sectoral effort to advance environmental education for future generations. It will build foundations of a system that offers children the knowledge, competencies and opportunities to understand, care for and protect their environment as active agents against the detrimental effects of climate change.