The manifesto with a hole at its centre

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates

Thanks to SOS-UK for alerting me to the Manifesto on Quality Climate Change Education for All! [subtitled: Teach for the Planet] from Educational International.  EI is the "Global Union Federation that brings together organisations of teachers and other education employees from across the world. Through ... 383 member organisations, we represent more than 32 million teachers and education support personnel in 178 countries and territories."

The manifesto was published in April 2021 and updated in November.  It is a brief document with only two sections: an introduction to the manifesto and the manifesto itself.  The Introduction says:

"Education must be transformed to catalyse the fight against climate change and to support a just transition to a more sustainable world.  Students have a right to gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to sustain our world for present and future generations, and they have the right to receive an education which prepares them for the world of work in a green economy. It is time to come together to build something more resilient in our education institutions, our communities, and our economy, while considerably reducing our ecological footprint through a just transition.  Education International, the global voice of educators, hereby calls on every government in the world to deliver on their commitments to climate change education and education for sustainable development in the Paris Agreement (article 12) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (targets 4.7, 12.8 and 13.3). This Manifesto outlines the profession’s vision for quality climate change education and the policy framework necessary to implement it."

The manifesto itself has 5 themes:

  1. Governments ensure quality climate change education (CCE) for all.
  2. Every student leaves education climate-literate and equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle climate change, adapt to uncertainties, and take part in building a more sustainable future.
  3. Quality climate change education is based on science, and addresses the ethical, cultural, political, social and economic dimensions of climate change.
  4. Teachers are trained and supported to provide quality climate change education.
  5. Schools and learning environments are transformed, to support quality climate change education.

Each of these 5 themes is sub-divided into a number of components; 22 in all.  For example:

[Section 4]

A. Governments ensure that teacher training institutions have the funding and resources necessary to deliver quality initial teacher education, and that student teachers are prepared to teach CCE.

B. CCE is included in continuous professional development programmes for teachers and responds to development needs identified by teachers.

C. The professional autonomy and academic freedom of teachers, further and higher education personnel are protected and guaranteed.

D. Governments provide teachers with teaching and learning resources to support them to teach CCE. These resources are up to date, gender-responsive, adapted to local contexts, multicultural and in local languages.


By their nature, manifestos need to be brief as people are expected to read them, but they are also expected to be sufficiently detailed so that what is set out is convincing.  This manifesto clearly passes this test.

They also need to be seen as valid in that all the matters addressed are clearly related to the issue in hand: ie, the climate and young people's education.  This is clearly the case as the manifesto deals with government responsibility for the appropriateness of the mandated curriculum, the need for broad curriculum coverage, the appropriateness of student learning outcomes, the provision of professional development opportunities, and the school itself as an organisation that takes climate change seriously.

And yet, there is an oddity at the heart of the document – a hole if you like.  There is no mention of what teachers should be doing, other than being supported, trained and having resources provided by government.  It's as if teachers have no role in the detail of student learning; the responsibility for facilitating it seems to be someone else's responsibility.  Whilst there is some implicit teacher responsibility in section [3 – Quality climate change education is based on science, and addresses the ethical, cultural, political, social and economic dimensions of climate change].  For example: – CCE promotes a multicultural vision and recognises indigenous knowledge; and– CCE fosters critical thinking and civic engagement –  this is as far as it goes.

And yet this is a document produced by teachers; well, by teacher unions which is perhaps not quite the same thing.

What a curious state of affairs.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates


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