Tertiary institutions have been challenged to promote climate change education at all levels to create an informed community. This will be in line with the National Climate Change learning strategy which seeks to promote awareness in the country and mitigate the impact of climate change, primarily caused by limited knowledge of the subject.
In an interview with The Herald last week, National University of Science and Technology lecturer in the Institute of Development Studies Mr Mkhokheli Sithole said there was need to introduce climate change as a core subject at universities and in high schools.
He said universities could also help the country to climate-proof all the socio-economic sectors and create knowledgeable members of the public. “Tertiary institutions play a critical role in adjusting to mitigating negative realities of climate change,” said Mr Sithole.
“In Zimbabwe, it is very unfortunate that very few of our universities have streamlined climate change learning at undergraduate level.
“Programmes that directly speak to climate change are offered in a few universities. Our universities now need to consider climate change as an area that needs more attention.
“As institutions we carry out research and a recent report showed that there is generally low production of peer review paper production on new knowledge on climate change issues. Going through the Scopus database, it recorded about 77 papers on climate change research published by 18 percent of State universities in Southern Africa.
“On that report, Zimbabwe has contributed very few new knowledge research papers that are climate-oriented. This, therefore, speaks to the need for tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe to step up in producing new knowledge in climate change. There is a gap that local universities need to fill in producing new knowledge on climate change.”
Mr Sithole said universities should work towards producing innovative students who can come up with practical skills to address the adverse effects of climate change.
He said students should reach out to communities and experience real environmental challenges that can be linked to the theoretical knowledge they acquired from universities.
Chairman of the Geography Department at Bindura University of Science Education Dr Albert Manyani said there was need for lecturers to be capacitated through trainings on climate change to help them have a complete appreciation of the subject.
Head of Curriculum Development and Technical Services in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Blessing Chabikwa said climate change should be part of sustainable development in the curriculum.
“Education is an essential element of the global response to climate change as it helps people understand and address the impact of global warming and increases climate literacy among young people,” he said.
“It also encourages changes in their attitudes and behaviour, and helps them towards adaptation to climate change-related trends. Our desire is to see all educators recognising the importance of teaching climate change and engage learners in concepts and activities on climate science, mitigation and adaptation strategies.
“This should occur in classrooms, surrounding communities and other related learning environments using the competence-based learning approaches.”