Striking conversations around Environment and Climate Change at the ICT Center, Mahbubnagar

It’s been more than 3 months since the Center is running in full swing with so many batches. Classes are now being regularly conducted on topics like Conversational English, Basic ICT skills, foundation concepts in financial literacy and strengthening of life skills. Girls are now getting used to the spirit and culture of the center which is helping them take ownership of their own learning. It is helping them come up with questions and some are even utilising computers at the center with their recently acquired computer skills, to independently look for answers.

To further develop this curiosity, our next plan of action is to start with the sessions on Environmental Education. The idea is to see how aware and concerned they are about their surroundings and motivate them to have an attitude to work both individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones. The intention is to start an open dialogue that will help them stimulate their curiosity as well as engage with real-world issues that transcend classroom walls. While the process of framing curriculum for Environmental Education is still an ongoing, few sessions were conducted to see the response from the girls and how that can be incorporated in the design of the modules.

 During the introductory session, girls were divided into small groups and were thrown a lot of questions ranging from current climate changes they are observing, to the use of plastic in houses. The approach was simple i.e. by using Inquiry-based learning, making them aware of practices and attitudes around them toward the environment and helping them to inquire into those. The facilitator guided the discussion by interjecting at critical moments, asking the right kind of questions and creating a friendly environment so that girls can share their thoughts without any hesitations. The entire classroom became engaged in discussions, they were comfortable and sharing confidently. They were actively participating and were themselves driving the discussion. It was clear this was something they could relate to their everyday life experiences.

 After discussing in their small groups now it was time to share their ideas with the larger group and they came up with lot of interesting ideas about what factors are responsible for climatic changes, different kinds of pollution and ozone layer depletion, increasing greenhouse gases and all of this resulting in global warming. The next part of the session was to help them think of the possible solutions to tackle these problems.

Girls came up with so many possible solutions, many of them already existing and few of them were very imaginative as one of the groups suggested: “to collect all the garbage from the earth and transport it to some other planet”. At least now they were thinking of the possibilities, but with more brainstorming guided by right questions the discussion progressed from using “we statements” to “I statement”. The session left girls with the idea of them feeling important and being in a  position to do something, starting with their own surrounding and eventually making things better around them.

 The focus of environmental education sessions in future will be on transforming such ideas from classroom discussions to actionable steps that can be taken to resolve environmental problems in their community. This shall provide them with opportunities to employ the knowledge and skills they are acquiring at the center to understand the larger ecosystem, the contexts in which they are placed and their role in it. It shall inform their views on current societal norms toward the environment and help begin conversations around their acceptance and utility.  

 Anchal Sharma

Education Specialist

TERI, India

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