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Thwaites wants climate change on schools' agendas

Published:Monday | June 15, 2015 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites is pushing for climate change to be included in the school curriculum come September.

Thwaites told The Gleaner on the weekend that the proposal has been in the pipeline for a while and that he is hoping that it can materialise as soon as possible.

"What I have said to the ministry (of environment and climate change) is that the topic is so crucial that it needs to be introduced in our schools, but I am really depending upon them to provide us with the education material for such introduction as we would want it to be age sensitive," he said.

"I have asked the curriculum specialist (at the education ministry) to be in touch with the environment ministry to ensure that we have sufficient material to infuse it as a module come September, and as we go along, we can develop a full course," the minister said.

Thwaites also stressed the need for the material to be age appropriate, adding that it was critical that students understand the concept.

"We have to be careful not to cram the curriculum with so many things, but I believe that this issue is worthy of early introduction," the minister told The Gleaner.

"We are also looking at what age is appropriate to introduce notions related to climate change and environmental sustainability. Certainly, we are thinking of from grades three and upwards. I would be elated to know that it could be introduced earlier but I would have to act on the advice of the experts," he said.

Albert Daley, head of the Climate Change Division at the environment ministry, said that they had been collaborating with the education ministry to ensure that the curriculum is introduced in short order.

"They (education ministry) are seeking material from us, and we are currently in the process of compiling the type of materials we have so that teachers and students can have access to them," Daley said.

"We believe among the topics to be included have to be those that educate persons on what climate change is, to understand what causes climate change, and we also want students to understand the projected impacts of climate change based on how we have treated the environment. Most importantly, they need to know what they can do to mitigate against the effects," he said.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com