LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines (Xinhua) - In the province of Albay, students will be welcoming the new school year learning about climate change.
The concept of a warm planet may be a difficult thing to grasp for both young and adult learners. But local officials in the province assured that they have simplified the ideas with the help of teachers and scientists. They have then developed and included these ideas in the regular curricula of students in both elementary and high schools.
"We see to it that it (climate change) fits smoothly into the lessons," Alice Terrel, division superintendent for education in Albay, said in a discussion with members of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists, Inc.
About 200,000 grade school students and more than 80,000 high school students enrolled in government-owned schools in Albay will be studying. Terrel said teachers in private schools are free to adapt this curriculum as this has been approved by the education department.
Terrel said this is in line with the Albay provincial government's climate change adaptation plan.
Albay is the only province in the Philippines that integrated climate change in school lessons. But what might seem a novelty in this country may just be a necessity for a province which has been reeling from natural disasters for the past few years.
Located some 500 kilometers southeast of Manila, the country's capital, Albay's geographical position made it a magnet to various disasters. The province sits at the typhoon belt and of the 20 typhoons that hit the country every year, five typhoons hit Albay directly. It faces the Pacific Ocean, making its coastal communities vulnerable tsunami. Albay is also home to Mayon Volcano, an active volcano that erupted 49 times in the past four centuries.
Climate change which is expected to worsen disaster impacts to this province. Local officials, private sector and residents, however, refused to remain victims of calamities and are preparing for the inevitability of a warmer planet.
Albay Governor Joey Salceda has set up the Center for Initiative and Research Center for Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) an agency that develops and implements adaptation projects which include mangrove planting, cleaning up of rivers and canals and organic farming.
It is CIRCA that spearheaded the inclusion of climate change ideas in the curricula of primary and secondary school students. In 2008, CIRCA Executive Director Manuel Rangasa and Governor Salceda drafted a program on how to promote climate change adaptation and environmental education among students. The draft proposes class discussions on climate change, the use of reading and sensory aid materials, and various activities geared on environmental and climate issues.
The draft has been studied and enriched by various experts and approved by the national government CIRCA together with the education department trained several teachers on the issue of climate change.
Terrel said teachers welcome the training that will allow them to teach a layman's version of climate change.
"The teachers in Albay are very open minded," she said, noting that educators also know that they need to do their part in adapting to the harsh impact of a warmer planet.
But Terrel said that these concepts won't be confined in the classroom. It's also important for students to apply what they learned from their teachers.
"We will also encourage students to be more involved in their community. For example, if the teacher lectured them on the effects of illegal logging, students must also participate in tree planting projects," she said.