Although Climate Change is a global problem, yet Pakistan is one of the most affected countries, and therefore warrants some extraordinary steps to stem the tide. However, there could be no short-term solutions. In fact, considering the quantum of challenge the country is faced with, the entire nation needs to be sensitized. In this regard, the starting point, as per the School Education Department, South Punjab, could be sensitizing the next generation by imparting Climate Change related education at our schools. With this aim in view, the Department has launched a pilot project at Multan, which would be upscaled to public schools of entire South Punjab in due course of time.
It would not be out of place to mention here that if one refers to the UNESCO’s published report on “Getting every school climate-ready; How countries are integrating climate change issues in education”, one would find out that Climate Change is not being taught as a separate subject at schools’ level anywhere in the world. It could therefore be a unique honour for Pakistan to become a trendsetter in this regard for entire international community.
The hallmark of imparting education of this subject is the Children’s Green Book, which has been prepared with input from all stakeholders, including the subject experts, and covers all topics related to Climate Change and allied matters such as forestry, agriculture, horticulture and more. Needless to mention here, it took efforts of more than 1.5 years to compile first edition of the book.
The Children of 11-12 years of age are the target audience of the book. It has therefore been drafted/prepared while keeping the mental ago of this group in view. More specifically, the book is being introduced at the level of class 7 at public schools. It is believed that children at this stage are neither old enough where their attitudes and habits have already been formed, nor too young where they might not be able to understand the complexities of Climate Change.
- The book has been drafted in Urdu as it is supposed to be taught in public schools. However, work has already been started on converting/translating it in English too so that the students of English medium schools might also get benefitted. An English version would also help introduce this book at regional, if not larger international, level.
- The book has been written in such a manner that it revolves around the characters of a young girl and a boy so that every child shall associate with either of them, and feels as if it is his or her very own story.
- The book imparts practical knowledge in a story telling format. Where required, it also takes the form of a detailed conversation/dialogue between the main character(s) and elders or relevant experts.
- The book is light on text and heavy on illustrations, pictures, graphics etc. All in all, it has a colourful, attractive and interest-provoking outlook. High definition/resolution actual pictures of local species of flowers, plants and trees etc. have also been used where deemed necessary.
- All in all, there are 15 chapters. Each chapter has further been divided into following 3 parts:
A narration/story covering any particular topic and elaborating its general details, from practical point of view. Hard scientific facts or theories have deliberately been avoided.
- Questions/exercises designed to tax the minds of the children and thus further enhance/strengthen their understanding and learnings.
- Practical activities: Each chapter has been complemented with appropriate practical work to be undertaken at school and home, as the case may be. One may reemphasize here the ultimate goal of the entire exercise is to equip the children with practical knowledge and not merely make him or her learn the theoretical aspects.
- The book also aims at breaking many stereotypes. A couple of examples are worth mentioning:
One of the leading characters is that of the mother of young boy and girl. The lady has not been shown or presented as a housewife, confined only to her home. In fact, she is a well educated and enlightened working professional, who, at the same time, looks after her home as well. As a responsible citizen, she is well aware of the challenges, which the Climate Change is posing, and keeps preparing her children for them too.
Given the fact that minorities have never got their due recognition and projection in our national life, we have painstakingly created a character of a teacher who belongs to a minority faith. He appears to be a very progressive and proactive person, and has been presented as the most loved teacher at school due to the qualities of his head and heart.
- The book has been so written that apart from Climate Change, it keeps teaching civic responsibilities, life skills and other competencies of the sort to the students subtly interspersed here and there in the text all throughout the book.
- Though statedly the book is meant for children, yet it caters for the needs of all interested members of the family. It is therefore likely to evoke huge interest amongst all and sundry. In fact, we have termed it as a Children’s Green Book meant for the entire family.
- The pilot project was launched at Multan in February, 2022. From next academic year, which kicks in from August 1, 2022, the Department intends to roll out it in Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh too. Within one year, however, it would also be rolled out in the rest of the districts of South Punjab. The project has huge potential, and no wonder other provincial units as well as provincial governments may also adopt the project in due course of time and introduce Climate Change as a separate subject in their schools as well.
- First book of its type, it would become a trend setter in all likelihood, and generate such ideas in other persons and at other places not only in Pakistan but elsewhere in the world too.
- As stated above, the book is being translated into English too so that it could be introduced to a larger audience at home and abroad.
- A supportive website and Facebook page are being launched too for greater impact. Work is also been started soon to create audio and video as well as animated versions of the book.
- It is believed that the book, like all other such works, would go through an evolutionary process. Needless to say here, based on the review and input of stakeholders, and the lessons from the experience of having taught it at schools, next editions would be even better.
COLLABORATION WITH UNESCO:
Since amongst other objectives, the UNESCO also aims to help Member States to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change and achieve the relevant SDGs, its collaboration is being sought. One is certain that a collaboration between the UNESCO and SED South Punjab can go a long way in creating an informed and enlightened citizenry – the first and foremost step required to take the colossal challenge of Climate Change head-on.