What Vocational Education can do for Climate Action
As indicated in the report “Polityka klimatyczna i jej realizacja w pierwszej połowie XXI wieku”, in Poland, as in other post-socialist countries, in terms of building social capital, pro-environmental education, especially of young people (at the level of primary and secondary education) is still not included at all.
The need to counteract climate change, after the conclusion of the Paris Agreement in 2015, is deliberately neglected in the education of subsequent generations of young people, which leads to the lack of noticeable involvement of adult Poles in pro-environmental movements, including climate change, and the lack of tendency to take pro-ecological actions and activity in everyday life.
As indicated by the participants of the World Education Summit (2021) organized by the Education International (EI), which associates trade unions of education and science workers from 178 countries, teachers and educators can be an important link in making people aware of changes climate and the effects they cause – and these are probably already visible in every country on our planet.
The same role can be played by the professional of VET education, both administrative and substantive (trainers, vocational counselors, educators, coaches, facilitators) as people who have daily contact with adults in their work – they can contribute to increasing environmental awareness and promoting pro-ecological behaviors that prevent faster and faster transformations of the climate on earth.
The project objectives are: To help VET members and learners understand the impact of environmental challenges and increase “environmental literacy” of VETs, by strengthening the capacity of local communities through active environmental education. VEforCA will promote education for change, developing critical active citizenship and advocacy for sustainable development, pursuing the following specific objectives: – To increase opportunities of VETs to engage with their communities in environmental and climate actions while enhancing their ability to think critically; – To develop an open e- learning programme for VET educators empowering them to support community engagement for the environment; – To develop a set of resources to increase and measure eco-consciousness among VETs; – To encourage a shared decision making process and co-design of environmental policy initiatives by applying a multi-stakeholder approach; – To ensure wide and sustainable access to the project results among VET learners, educators, CSOs, and policy-makers.
This will be done by addressing the needs of the following target groups: – VETs, especially those with a disadvantaged socio-economic/educational background, and learners who play a key educational role for younger generations. Disadvantaged VETs are transversally involved in all steps of the project. From the beginning, their consultation during the field-research work in order to identify and analyse environmental challenges which have a direct impact on citizens’ daily life is expected to act as a trigger for citizens to become active “makers” of the environmental change they would like to see in the local context. Moreover, they are the final beneficiaries of R2, and the direct target group of both R3 and R4.
– VET educators, who are key actors to promote environmental VET education. VET educators are also involved in the project activities since the very beginning of the research phase, in order to promote their active engagement for environmental and climate action. They are the main target group of R2 and will actively contribute to the Pilot environmental awareness-action based on the sustainability kit (R3). The project action shall meet their needs to develop competences in environmental education, becoming better aware of citizen science approaches and of how to encourage their use among VET learners, to be equipped with new skills and tools in order to actively engage local VETs, to be empowered to support active citizenship through the use of e-learning, digital methods for teaching and innovative pedagogies.
The project shall meet their needs to be better aware of existing environmental challenges, to learn about citizen science approaches and about existing resources and tools which can be used to be engaged in environmental and climate actions, to exercise critical thinking and to be better aware of the extent to which taking individual responsibility and changing their habits can bring a positive change for the environment they live in.
VET professionals to take part in great challenge of our times (contribute to increasing environmental awareness and promoting pro-ecological behaviors that prevent faster and faster transformations of the climate on earth), need basic tools such as: objective and substantive knowledge from research, an e-learning training program, a package of educational materials and tools. Hence the idea for the project under which it was planned not only to conduct research increasing the knowledge of VET educators in the field of climate change and the possibility of counteracting it through everyday activities and behavior of all of us, but above all practical tools (report, VET kit, e-learning course, eco VET package). The implementation of this project will provide VET professionals with required tools and materials.
Transnational cooperation between the partners, and the collection of inputs from VET educators, disadvantaged VETs and policy makers from different countries and VET education systems, will lay the foundations for a European practice in environmental VET education. Through the active involvement of all partners, the project suggested methods will be enriched and turned into a successful and innovative VET learning methodology that can be used and transferred further to VET educators and learners also in contexts not directly reached by the project. In order to produce results with a higher value than the work of each partner at local level and to be in a position to influence more effective policies towards environmental sustainability based on a multi-stakeholder approach, the active cooperation of the members will be necessary. Not only each partner will be leading duties and will be responsible for their share for the implementation of the project, but all partners will be involved in all phases and will be contributing to the final results of the project in order to increase the general applicability of the methods suggested. – The inclusion of education for sustainable development as a cross-cutting issue in the EU Sustainability Strategy, and the binging undertaking made by some governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 under the Climate Action Programme 2030 – The Law no. 4685/2020 for natural environment protection and sustainable development, harmonising the legal framework with EU Law and “Green Deal” and covering a broad range of environmental issues; – The creation in Italy of a government initiative to coordinate action against global warming across the Mediterranean Sea, boosting the new position of the country as a regional hub for climate change research, and Ministry’s initiative to promote environmental learning for pupils through innovative learning; – FFI’s specific know-how in monitoring and promoting the principle of sustainable development as support i leading the development of R1, and for Prometeo in leading R3, enriching the project results. Partners have implemented successfully European and local projects in the framework of environmental education and non-formal and participative methods, and they have previous experience in working with the project target groups, and this will ensure the exchange of high-quality know-how among all involved partners. The differences among partners will allow them to complement each other and cover all the possible gaps and challenges in the future of the project.