In 2019 VVOB and GreenMatter in partnership with Fundisa for change started the Keep it Cool- Climate Change Education project, funded by the Flanders government. VVOB-education for development is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with years of experience in improving the quality of education, and has been active in South Africa since 2011. The KIC-CCE project, which has a 3 year span (2019-2022) started from the finding that, in South Africa, the education sector remains underutilised as a strategic resource to mitigate and adapt to climate change, even though (internationally), the role of education in addressing climate change is increasingly recognised.

The main objective of the project is to utilise the education sector as a strategic resource in South Africa’s transition towards a more climate resilient society. KIC-CCE seeks to address climate change through education in 100 secondary schools in KZN, Eastern Cape and Limpopo, supported by multiple actors (DBE, DEFF, HEIs, NGOs at national, provincial and district level). The choice for these provinces was informed by (i) the climate change data (the mix of coastal and inland provinces implies that a range of climate change adaptation (CCA) challenges can be addressed, that is relevant to other provinces as well; (ii) demographic data (the size of the population in these 3 provinces makes the threat of climate change particularly great and the need for CCA particularly urgent); (iii)  and by the strong presence of key players.

The project has been introduced to DBE and DEFF at national and provincial level, and to the universities and other stakeholders. Five partner universities (University of KwaZulu Natal, University of Zululand, Rhodes University, University of Fort Hare, and University of Venda) in the KIC-CCE project will implement professional development trajectory for 200 in-service secondary school teachers. Each university will train 40 teachers from 20 schools, 2 teachers from each school – one for Natural Sciences (Grade 7 – 9) and one for Geography (Grade 10 – 12) and further support will be provided to trained teachers through professional learning communities (PLCs). As a final assignment, the teachers will design a school based curriculum aligned climate change action project that should involve students and local community and prompt them to recognise locally relevant CCA challenges and develop possible responses, either in terms of reducing the impact of, and vulnerability to climate change now or in terms of increasing resilience to future impacts.

To understand the effectiveness of the professional development trajectory, the five universities will conduct research using the methodology of process tracing, working together with Dr Mutizwa Mukute, who has been appointed as the comparative researcher for the project.

Another component of the project is the scoping of climate change LTSM, and creating an easily accessible online platform for teachers, teacher educators and other programmes for teacher development.

(Kgomotso Thomas – Keep it Cool Project Coordinator)