Protesting for change: students demand sustainable education
MAINTENANT Sustaining Now attend parliamentary reception to launch Teach the Future
It is an undeniable fact that young people have been leading the charge when it comes to protesting about climate change and demanding action to protect their futures. We have become accustomed to the sight of groups of students gathered for weekly strikes, including 30,000 people joining Greta Thunberg in Bristol, where she declared to the young activists that: “We are the change.”
But are the so-called “grown-ups” - the people in positions of power - actually listening and taking action? There were promising signs in Westminster last week, when MAINTENANT Sustaining Now joined the student-led Teach the Future campaign to talk to parliamentarians. The group has drafted a bill to urge the adoption of a Climate Emergency Education Plan to enable students to learn to live in a more sustainable manner and to have a real understanding of the climate catastrophe we are facing. Encouragingly, 53 MPs attended the event. Indeed, one MP speaker said she had never seen quite so many parliamentarians in the Terrace Pavilion at once.
Teach the Future has six main aims which, if successfully implemented, will overhaul the entire education system and place schools as the shining beacons of sustainability within the community. In summary, the Climate Emergency Education Act states it is:
«An act to ensure that climate emergency is incorporated into education at all levels and to provide funding so that school pupils, students, apprentices, teachers, lecturers and adult learners are prepared for their future and the responsibility of preserving a habitable planet for future generations and that education buildings achieve net zero emissions.»
MAINTENANT Sustaining Now was happy to support the Teach the Future initiative as it echoes what we have long been saying: the current education system is not fit-for-purpose and needs a radical reinvention. While the Department for Education claims climate change is being taught as part of the National Curriculum, in truth it is included as part of science and geography, where it is often glossed over. Nobody is being taught, in detail, about what is happening today and what the implications are for the future. Furthermore, nothing is being said about how to get to net-zero carbon emissions. Instead, the areas that are being taught are outdated, boring and irrelevant – and the students and their teachers know it.
The students are calling for the climate crisis and its social implications to be taught across the curriculum and to be embedded in it. We need out with the old, in with the new. As a country and as a society, we can’t afford NOT to do this.
While some seasoned folk were slightly cynical that the DfE would listen this time having failed to take notice in the past, compounded by the fact they sent a very junior minister to the event, there were reasons to be optimistic. Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson has agreed to meet with the organisers to discuss their plans and ideas further. Generally, there seemed to be a buzz around it, a sense of students making demands that they wouldn’t allow to be ignored any longer.
To find out how you can reach your MP on this all-important topic, go to www.teachthefuture.uk/mp.