Empowering Schools for Climate Education: An Interview with Zubir Agani and Dr.Golaleh Makrooni.

October 9, 2023

A few weeks ago, Zubir Agani, a School Director from Indonesia who recently completed the UniPID course 'Curriculum Development for Climate Change Education,' visited Finland. The Coordination Unit met with him and Dr.Golaleh Makrooni, one of the course’s responsible teachers, to learn about their learning and teaching experiences within UniPID virtual programme.

Climate change is one of the most pressing global challenges of our time, and education plays a crucial role in addressing it. In this blog post, Zubir and Golaleh share insights into the importance of climate education. Zubir also shares his experience of taking a UniPID course while in Indonesia.

Zubir is a School Director at Sukma Bangsa Lhokseumawe in Aceh, Indonesia. He also teaches informatics subjects at the high school level. With a background in Applied Mathematics, Zubir is very committed to leading his school in the direction of climate education. On her side, Golaleh holds a Ph.D. in Education from Tampere University and has developed a special interest in exploring the dynamics of education in the context of migration. With a diverse academic background and extensive teaching experience, Golaleh has enthusiastically awakened interest in curriculum studies and climate change education.

The course on Curriculum Development for Climate Change Education (offered from 2021 to 2023) aligned perfectly with Zubir's school's focus on environmental education. As a school director, Zubir recognized the importance of gaining a comprehensive understanding of curriculum development for climate change education. This knowledge would enable him to share these vital concepts with his colleagues and integrate them into Indonesian classrooms.

Dr. Makrooni at the Sukma Bangsa School in Indonesia

Golaleh, in collaboration with Professor Eero Ropo, decided to teach this course because she recognized the increasing demand for a more tangible educational perspective on climate change. This UniPID course was designed to develop a comprehensive understanding of climate change education. In this context, students were encouraged to start with a local-level understanding of the phenomenon as a foundation for progressing to a global perspective. This approach recognizes that regional and local knowledge not only identifies climate change challenges more effectively but also leverages local resources and expertise, which are crucial for enhancing our understanding of environmental impacts.

“Climate change is a complex issue that demands both scientific and contextual knowledge. When developing curricula for climate change education, it's crucial to consider various factors, including historical, geographical, and socio-cultural aspects.” Golaleh states.

Zubir highlights the flexibility of UniPID courses, which cater to various learning styles, including interactive material, lived discussions, and interesting readings. He emphasizes that the course instructors are experts in the field and that the diverse students’ background allowed for a rich exchange of perspectives on climate crisis mitigation strategies.

Golaleh and Zubir visiting the Nature Schools at Teralahti

Golaleh believes that conducting an online and multicultural course demands specific attention and the careful capacity for teachers to adapt the course design, content, methods, and assessment activities accordingly. This adaptation must also be accompanied by maintaining constant communication, flexibility, and fostering student motivation to meet course objectives and requirements. In her opinion, it is essential to constantly reflect on how to ensure equitable access to course materials and equal engagement for all students.

As a result, the cross-cultural context engenders fresh perspectives during the discussions, making the teaching and learning experience more inspiring and enriching. Golaleh considers that contexts where diversity is key offer benefits to both Finnish and international students, enabling them to learn from one another, enhance their critical thinking, and develop their intercultural skills through collaborative work.

Taking this online course organized in another country expanded Zubir's horizons. He highlights the eye-opening experience of realizing that climate change education should not be limited to schools. Professionals from diverse backgrounds can contribute to combating the climate crisis in their own unique ways.

Education can change human behavior to realize the importance of protecting the environment. This can be done by implementing the climate change curriculum appropriately.” Zubir reflects.

In Golaleh's view, citizens' commitment to climate change mitigation is crucial for integrating these concerns into people's daily lives, subjects, and work experiences. Golaleh believes that 'by emphasizing the curriculum as a central guiding document for education, we can empower educators and educational designers to create curricula that are more contextually relevant, accessible, and effective.' Without a doubt, this UniPID course has the potential to promote a more comprehensive approach to climate change education.

Outside of his educational pursuits, Zubir enjoys writing essays and poetry. He values spending time with others over coffee and indulges in reading books on the weekends. Zubir recommends the book "All You Need is Less" by Vicki Vrint.

Thank you so much, Zubir and Golaleh, for such a fascinating discussion. Your reflections highlight the importance of equipping schools and educators with the knowledge and tools needed to address the climate crisis. Your dedication to environmental education serves as an inspiring example for educators worldwide. Climate education is not merely a subject in schools; it's a global imperative, and individuals like Zubir and Golaleh are leading the way.

What’s next? Should you also have practical ideas on how to address global challenges through virtual education? Then consider applying for the UniPID Virtual Studies Call for Course Proposals 2024. The submission period is open NOW until 5 December 2023.

Photo credits: Dikaseva, 2015 on UnSplash.