I am a big believer in bottom-up education policymaking. Despite the long work hours, the low remuneration, the lack of resources, and the innumerable other challenges teachers face worldwide, what happens in the classroom – how teachers bring policy to life within their classrooms and how they choose to teach – has a profound effect not just on pupils’ learning but also on educational structures.
I have also heard and seen, again and again, how environmental education is relegated to a secondary role at best, outright ignored at worst, in most education systems across the globe.
However, there is no question about the need for it. Our world is undergoing dramatic and potentially irreversible environmental changes and our youth is demanding action and tangible steps toward sustainability more than ever. So what do we need in order to bring environmental education to the core of educational curricula and into classrooms across the world?
It is clear to me from my experience interviewing teachers for my master’s thesis a few years ago that teachers’ actions are defined by personal drive and access to the right educational tools. Now, I do not think there is much anyone can do about teachers’ personal commitment to raise awareness about sustainability among their pupils. However, there are loads to be done to provide them with the right teaching resources!
The Earth Prize, an annual, global, $200,000 environmental sustainability competition for students between the ages of 13 and 19 that rewards the best ideas to solve environmental problems, is one of such resource.
Apart from very appealing prizes ($100,000 for the winning team to be split between team members and their school or $10,000 for one teacher selected as the Educator of the Year), The Earth Prize provides students and teachers with exclusive learning materials covering key environmental sustainability topics and featuring young entrepreneurs who came up with revolutionary environmental solutions when they were only teenagers.
Last year, I had the chance to collaborate in the creation of these unique learning materials. They include 17 powerful short videos created with the help of university professors and a film production company based in the UK, and accompanying written chapters with up-to-date, easy-to-digest, and interactive information on the key topics of each video. They are available on-demand for all registered competition participants, including for team supervisors and teachers to watch and use in their own classes. You can have a sneak peek here: https://www.theearthprize.org/learning-content.
In its first-ever edition, The Earth Prize attracted over 500 schools in 114 countries and territories, from some of the most prestigious institutions in Switzerland and the UK to schools in UNRWA refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
The Earth Prize is not just a competition; it is a great platform for teenagers to bring their ideas to the table and make them a reality, and the ultimate project-based learning tool for teachers interested in weaving environmental sustainability into their classrooms.
Interested secondary teachers and students can register for the competition on The Earth Prize website until November 30th: www.theearthprize.org. Teams will then have until January 31st to submit their ideas.
To read more about The Earth Prize competition, please visit: www.theearthprize.org/schools
To watch the competition’s trailer: www.theearthprize.org/trailer
Diana Conde Moure is the Head of Communications and Operations at The Earth Foundation, the nonprofit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, behind The Earth Prize competition. Diana is an alumna of United World College Costa Rica and holds a master’s degree in Comparative International Education from the University of Oslo, Norway. Her experience includes working and volunteering for numerous organizations in the nonprofit, government, and academic sectors. Passionate about education, Diana brings her knowledge and expertise in the field to help The Earth Foundation in its strategic development.