Training workshop in Rome: Education Trade Unions and environmental sustainability

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How to integrate the issues of environmental sustainability in the educational curricula? How can the education personnel be prepared and trained to deal with this crucial topic in schools? What impact does climate change have on working conditions in the education sector? In which way can trade unions mobilise to help for an effective green transition in the educational sector? These and other important questions regarding the introduction and promotion of the topic of environmental sustainability in the national education curricula and collective bargaining were discussed by ETUCE member organisations during the training workshop ‘Education Trade Unions addressing sustainable environmental development’, held on 29 April 2022 in Rome.

More than 30 experts and representatives from the member organisations gathered during the training workshop to discuss the implementation of the education for environmental sustainability in different national contexts, the impact of climate change on the education sector, including on working conditions and the crucial role of trade unions in this context. The event was organised in  the  framework  of  the  ETUCE  project “Education  for  Social  Change:  The  role  of  Education  Trade  Unions  in  addressing sustainable   environmental   development”. This project   aims   at   building   the   capacity   of education trade  unions in preparing their affiliates to address  environmental questions and climate emergency for sustainable development in education and training through social  dialogue  and  collective  bargaining. In fact, the one-day training workshop continued  the  discussions started  at  the  project  Kick-Off Conference in April 2021. It gave ETUCE member organisations opportunity to discuss national findings of an ETUCE survey amongst its member organisations on the challenges of education and education personnel in regard to the climate emergency and sustainable development, and on the role of education trade  unions in addressing these challenges.

The representatives of ETUCE member organisations in Italy (CISL, UIL-Scuola, FLC-CGIL) opened the workshop giving a closer insight on the situation in the country explaining that the inclusion of provisions regarding the environment in the Italian Constitution and the introduction of civic education as a mandatory school subject. In this respect, the former Minister of Education of Italy, Lorenzo Fioramonti, explained how during his mandate in 2019, Italy became the first country in the world to make teaching about climate change mandatory for primary and secondary schools, aiming to prepare  students to  be active actors in the green transition.

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The training workshop offered further space for education trade unions to share good practices on supporting sustainable development in education. During  the first working group discussion, participants highlighted lack of resources and insufficient public funding, overloaded and competitive curriculum, and pressure on the professional autonomy as key challenges to the implementation of education for environmental sustainability. During the discussion , participants pointed out the need for developing trade union strategies and actions plans on the topic, analysing the issues from different perspectives, acknowledging the views of their affiliates and seeking to influence media and society. Regarding addressing the topic in the social dialogue, trade union representatives suggested to cooperate with other public sector unions and confederations to achieve broader societal goals.

The second training workshop on “Education Trade Unions addressing sustainable environmental development” will take place on 2 June 2022 in Copenhagen and the project’s Closing Conference will take place on the 27-28 October 2022 in Brussels.

To learn more about the project “Education for Social Change: The role of Education Trade Unions in addressing sustainable environmental development”, view the project’s webpage.

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