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Curriculum Response to Climate Change and Development:

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1 Curriculum Response to Climate Change and Development:
UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST GHANA UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN NIGERIA Curriculum Response to Climate Change and Development: Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Adow Obeng Department of Religion and Human Values, University of Cape Coast- Ghana address: Unilorin-UCC “Conference on Climate Change and Sustainable Development” University of Ilorin, Nigeria- May 2011

2 Introduction The implications of current and future changes in the global climate have attracted the attention of the world in recent decades. Economically developing and vulnerable countries will be the hardest hit, since they are less able to adapt to future changes in climate. Africa (particularly sub-Saharan Africa) is likely to be the worst affected by any present-day climate variability and future climate change. Available data (World Bank 2005) indicates that Africa represents 28% of the world’s poverty whiles 30% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from extreme poverty and food insecurity. (Balasubramanian et al. 2007).

3 Introduction... Due to underdevelopment, poverty and population explosion, many countries in the region are unable to adapt to extreme climatic conditions (flooding and drought) which is increasingly becoming prevalent in the region. In view of this, it is important for countries such as Ghana to take measures to respond, mitigate and adapt appropriately to this phenomenon for sustainable development of its people. Developing countries like Ghana should as part of curriculum response, develop proactive strategies that include mitigation and adaptation to climate variability and climate change The curriculum response to climate change in the Ghanaian Educational system is approached from an interdisciplinary perspective and also with a focus on extra curricular activities

4 What is climate change? The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 2005) defines Climate Change as a change in the statistical distribution of climate (weather patterns) which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparably long time periods.

5 What causes climate change?
Climate change which is attributed to several factors with special emphasis on the consequence of human activity is synonymous with global warming. Global warming is considered as an average increase in the earth’s temperature which in turn causes changes in climate. It is believed that this will lead to changes in rainfall patterns with a wide impact on everyday life (humans, plants and wildlife). Scientifically, global warming has been attributed largely to the phenomenon called green house effect. The green house effect is a natural warming process in which a layer of “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) in the atmosphere absorb the heat energy from the sun and keeps the earth’s atmosphere friendly for the survival of living things. Human activities tend to produce high quantities of green house gases such as Carbon dioxide (CO2), Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (NO2), water vapour, ozone (O3) which intensifies the green house effect. This then poses a threat to the survival of living things on this planet.

6 The Human activities factor in Ghana
(1) The burning of fossil fuels, especially petroleum products, in vehicles, generators and other industrial machines. There is a phenomenal increase in the number of vehicles in towns and cities. A number of these vehicles are imported second hand vehicles. Besides, the inefficient power supply system in the country has resulted in the increasing use of generators. Increase in the number and use of vehicles and generators, coupled with poor servicing record of owners, result in the production of a lot of smoke which increases the carbon dioxide concentrations. (2) The indiscriminate bush burning for hunting and farming purposes also add to the production of green house gases. (3) Deforestation increases the carbon dioxide concentrations since plants and trees which make use of that gas are destroyed.

7 The Human activities factor in Ghana...
(4) Illegal mining activities lead to the pollution of the land and water bodies and sometimes to the extinction of water bodies affect the rainfall cycle. (5) Indiscriminate dumping of refuse which degrades the land and kills water bodies, and also causes the release of large amounts of methane gas-CH4 into the atmosphere. (6) Use of imported of old refrigerators and air conditioners which contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) as coolants. These human activities have to do with behaviour, production and consumption patterns.

8 Effects of Climate Change
Over the past 30 years, Ghana has experienced about a 1°C rise in temperature and around 20% reduction in the mean annual rainfall. (Owusu & Waylen 2009) On the increase are nationwide rainfall variability, extreme weather events and disasters. Specifically, the impact of Climate Change on Ghana is observable in the following areas: Floods-as a result of heavy rainfall. These floods contaminate water supplies. Prolonged droughts which threaten food security and water availability. It results in the reduction of levels of hydro-dams and potential hydro-dam sites and the drying of small and micro-hydro basins. Prevalence of diseases –malaria, cholera and skin diseases. Intense solar radiation-very high daily day and night temperatures and high room temperatures. Rising sea levels resulting in the erosion of the eastern coastline.

9 Curriculum Response to Climate Change in Ghana

10 Curriculum Response To Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Bank (2008) have identified two major actions or mechanism for dealing with Climate Change: (1) Adaptation and (2) Mitigation actions. The IPCC defined adaptation as “the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.”(IPCC 2001). This inherently means coping with those climate change impacts that cannot be avoided. The IPCC (2007) also defined mitigation as the technological change and substitution that reduce resource inputs and emissions per unit of output. Although several social, economic and technological policies would produce an emission reduction, with respect to climate change, mitigation means implementing policies to reduce GHG emissions and enhance their sinks.

11 Curriculum Response To Climate Change…
Achieving any measure of success with the adaptation and mitigation actions, depend on education. The main reason is that human activities which are the major contributory factors to climate change stem out of behaviour, consumption and production patterns. To mitigate or halt the adverse effects of Climate Change, human beings have to be taught appropriate attitudes and competencies to deal with the situation. This can be achieved through a well formulated and targeted educational curriculum.

12 Curriculum Response To Climate Change…
Although, the effects of Climate Change are felt by all peoples, there is no doubt that majority of the world’s population , certainly in Ghana, do not understand this phenomenon which is real and poses imminent threat to the environment, the economy and everyday life. There is now an increasing awareness of the roles that education, formal and non-formal, from primary through to tertiary and adult education can play in the quest for such understanding. The challenging task, however, is to develop an education system and curriculum that equip learners with the requisite skills knowledge and attributes to deal with the challenges. An approach to bring climate change education into formal education curriculum is to re-orient the school curricular to take into account goals of education for sustainable education.

13 Curriculum Response To Climate Change…
An effective climate change education curriculum must focus on transformation, ensure coherence, be accessible to all and be interdisciplinary in nature. The current curriculum in Ghana and this may apply to other African countries as well, does not specifically deal with issues of climate change and certainly not at all levels of the educational system. At the basic and the senior high school levels the course which has a link with climate change is Integrated Science. As the name implies it is an integration of science subjects and agriculture. It is taught as a core subject, so that all students would have some background knowledge in science. This course is not taught to create awareness to climate change. The issue of climate change is relegated to the background.

14 Curriculum Response To Climate Change…
At the university level, the issue is worse as climate change related programmes/courses are offered, if any, in the Departments of Geography & Regional Planning and possibly in the Science related departments. At the University of Cape Coast for example, there is no course amongst the University’s wide courses that informs students about climate change. In such a situation climate change would be taught mainly to science, geography and such students who find themselves in these departments. Consequently, the larger proportions of students that do not take these subjects lack the basic understanding and skills relevant to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This development does not instil in students/graduates and the entire nation, the need to curb the climate change menace.

15 Curriculum Response To Climate Change…
The trend described above is perhaps due to a resilient belief that climate change is only an environmental issue and therefore it should be taught only in the sciences and geography. Besides as a result of this belief, the teaching of climate change topics focus mainly on the scientific facts about climate change like the chemistry, the trends and mitigation strategies . This view is, however, incorrect. It is evident that scientific information alone is not sufficient to motivate the necessary action for the fundamental transformation of human behaviour to address the challenge of climate change, (Arthur Lyon Dahl, 2008). Religion and ethics have to complement the scientific arguments behind the climate change challenge. This is increasingly becoming obvious. Such a complementary of disciplines is missing in the Ghanaian school curriculum.

16 Curriculum Response To Climate Change…
Another significant challenge in the curriculum is that it is examination based; hence students learn for the sake of examination instead of learning for attitudinal change. It needs to be stressed that a major weakness in the curriculum is not only the paucity of courses to address climate change but the lack of emphasis in any such course on the socio-economic nature of climate change and moral issues of human behaviour and attitudes which are core to the problem.

17 What kind of Curriculum is required?
A curriculum for climate change should have certain features: (1) It should be interdisciplinary cutting across the sciences, social sciences, agriculture, religion and ethics. A course like “Science, Religion and Ethics of Climate change” can be designed to address the phenomenon. The themes to be discussed should include “Global warming, respect of the earth’s natural order, climates and climate variations, concepts of ecology, environmental responsibilities, etc”.

18 What kind of Curriculum is required?...
(2) The curriculum should be transformational in the sense that it should effect attitudinal change in persons. This calls for a course in African Traditional Religion/ Scripture and Ecology that would teach the sacrality of nature, respect for nature, stewardship, and raise questions on the dominant materialist and consumer culture and emphasize the necessary balance between spiritual and material dimensions of human life. Scripture and traditional religion teach harmony in creation and that created things are related to one another and are inter dependent. The notion that the world and creation are the property of humankind and thus can be used as humankind pleases is erroneous. The African culture and religion taught values that protected water resources, rivers, lakes and their banks and forest reserves. These values can be demystified and captured in a course and taught to correct poor attitudes to the environment. The objective should be the creation of an ecological consciousness in people. These courses can be taught as core courses at the colleges of education, polytechnics, universities and other institutions of higher learning.

19 What kind of Curriculum is required?...
(3) It should be continuous, in the sense that at every level of the educational system, i.e. from basic to university level, some kind of activity or course on climate change is to be introduced. At the basic education level, including the kindergarten, the emphasis should be on role play and practical work. Games and plays that teach the importance of nature, the importance of rainfall, and the need to stop pollution, and also inculcate in them love for the environment.

20 What kind of Curriculum is required?...
(4) Every citizen should be exposed to either an activity or a course on climate change. To ensure such an access, the curriculum, has to be formal and informal; formal as it obtains in classroom instruction and informal as in extracurricular activities. The formal would include what has been discussed previously at point 3. Informal referring to extracurricular activities such as tree planting (greening projects), cleaning of the environment, and public awareness creation of the climate change menace can be undertaken by Fun clubs, alumni associations, corporate organizations and denominational groups. Organization of seminars/workshops on climate change for members of staff, policy makers, educators, business/corporate organizations, and traditional authorities will not only expose participants to the climate change issue but blend the science/concept of climate change with the socio-culture sector for sustainable development. Institutions should spearhead this extracurricular activity. It is therefore noteworthy that the University of Ilorin and University of Cape Coast have already been engaged on such activity as trees and grass planting. Although these activities beautify the campuses, they in turn help minimize the effects of climate change.

21 Curriculum Response Measures at the Policy Making level.
A vital part of the response of the educational curricular to climate change is Policy statements at governmental, institutional and non-governmental levels. At the governmental level, the Ghana government should be sensitive to the challenges facing the country as a result of climatic change and get the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service to make arrangements to factor relevant courses and activities on climate change into the curriculum of the basic schools senior high schools and the colleges of education. At the institutional level, a core climate change course should be mainstreamed into the tertiary institutions’ programmes (e.g., inter-faculty, interdepartmental or special short-term courses) for all students to read. This should be guided by a well defined policy Furthermore, the institution of a climate change development fund for research, community based project and post graduate training sponsorship will go a long way to tackle this problem.

22 Conclusions Climate change is widely considered to be one of the greatest challenges to modern human civilization that has profound socio-economic and environmental impacts. To effectively tackle the challenges of climate change, there is need for a transformative curriculum response that demands an interdisciplinary and consistent approach as well as an approach that will inculcate values, principles and practices into the curriculum.

23 Thank you!!


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