ETUCE asks for effective support for teachers in the green transition of education


The key role of education and training in engaging with students, teachers and parents on the environmental challenges facing the planet is highlighted in the European Green Deal. In the context of the EU's Biodiversity Strategy, the European Commission has announced a Council Recommendation on education for environmental sustainability for 2021.  In order to influence this upcoming EU policy, the ETUCE Committee adopted a position paper on a “Proposal for a Council Recommendation on Education for Environmental Sustainability”.

The position paper is based on ETUCE’s ongoing project work and the recently adopted resolution on this topic. ETUCE member organisations express their concerns within the position paper that environmental problems obstruct the learning and teaching processes and lead to unsafe and inadequate working and learning environments such as bad air quality in the classrooms, periods when schools must be closed or relocated due to changes in the environment. ETUCE insists that the European Commission should encourage Member States to provide effective support for teachers in the context of the green transition in education and education institutions. It should also raise the status and promote the attractiveness of the teaching profession through adequate working conditions and decent salary.

This position paper suggests that national environmental policies should be connected to national education policies and should be revised together with education trade unions in effective social dialogue. Education is a human right and a public good, and education for environmental sustainability requires a fundamentally different learning and pedagogical approach. ETUCE calls on the European Commission to base the Council Recommendation on the European Pillar of Social Rights. There needs to be interdisciplinary learning throughout all subjects, based on a whole-education institutional approach and linked to concrete actions. However, the position paper underlines that it is important to recognise that education alone cannot be responsible for fighting climate change. Currently, ETUCE member organisations report that there is a significant lack of coherence in the curricula regarding education for sustainable development.

ETUCE member organisations remind that quality and inclusive initial training and continuous professional development for education personnel are key for the integration of environmental sustainability to education. Teacher training needs to be accessible for free, during working time, and should be supported by sustainable and adequate public funding. The position paper asks the European Commission to strictly monitor the public investment for green transition of education within the European Semester process. In this context, education is the best tool to promote this change and it requires sufficient time, long term policy vision and sustainable public investment, in particular, in the framework of the European Recovery and Resilience Facility and the NextGenerationEU package.

ETUCE position paper on a “Proposal for a Council Recommendation on Education for Environmental Sustainability” can be found here.