Early Childhood Never too early for climate justice

Educators around the globe are standing up for the planet and for the children and students they teach. Climate justice was a key part of the agenda at the recent Education International Asia Pacific Conference held in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The focus extended across the sectors, as climate education is vital in early childhood education, schools and higher education. 

We need to support a just transition to a more sustainable and equitable world for all of us, and there is no doubt that education must be transformed to promote awareness and action on climate change. Many of the climate conversations at the EIAP were underpinned by the view that the children and students we educate have a right to gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to sustain our world for present and future generations, and that they have the right to receive an education that prepares them for the world of work in a green economy. 

The message that came across time and again was: what educators teach matters. We know that teachers and educators are well positioned to organise for climate education and climate justice at all levels of government – this includes ensuring that climate change is part of the education curriculum, starting with the early years. It is never too early to learn about building a sustainable future. As stated in the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF), which informs the EC curriculum: “Children become aware of the impact of the local environment, both physical and social, on their lives. They learn ways to care for the environment and contribute to a sustainable future.” We all know this to be true. 

Outcome 2 of the EYLF reads: “Children are connected with and contribute to their world.” Again, EC educators know the deep connection young children have with their environment, and their place within it. It is vitally important that we not only educate about climate change, but also support children to identify ways they can contribute to a sustainable future. Evidence shows that climate education has the potential to lead to a reduction in future emissions. As an education union, we embrace all opportunities to respond collectively to the current climate emergency.

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