Students: Why we need education reform

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Since January, students have been striking from school once a month to protest the government's lack of action on the climate crisis. These strikes, organised by the UK Students Climate Network, are based around four key demands.

One of these demands is that the government reforms the education system to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate crisis. Here, students are going to tell you why this is so important.

"School claims to prepare us for the future: but it sugar coats the climate crisis, It won't face the facts"

Karis Mcintyre, 14, UKSCN activist, Salisbury

"NUS at its core believes we can change the world through education", "We’ve got some simple asks but we believe they can lead to radical change."

Zamzam speaking at the London climate strike on the 20th September

"Educate our students. Tell them about the crisis they are facing, put it to the top of the list, get out the classroom, show them the possibilities, and inspire a generation of people who can and will make change. Every student, no matter their age, is entitled to learn about the climate emergency."

"Students learn where they lead. Do not take action for us, take action with us, and together we will build a movement too loud to ignore."

Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS National President

Lily speaking at a climate strike in Bristol

"We need to be learning about more than the bare boned facts of “global warming” and how our atmosphere works. The climate crisis is an issue that our generation is woefully uninformed about. We learn nothing about who is really causing the problems or what solutions can be put in place to deal with them.

The climate crisis will impact every part of our lives and should therefore be taught in every subject. We learn nothing about the impact it will have on society or the politics and key players in the global debate."

"If we want to be the leaders of tomorrow, if we want to solve this crisis, we need to be equipped with the correct tools to tackle it."

Lily Fitzgibbon, 17, UKSCN activist, Bristol

Lydia speaking at a climate strike in Canterbury

"We don’t learn about politics in school. It’s no wonder youth turnout in elections is so low when we aren’t even taught how to register to vote or how our democracy works. This means our government isn’t representative of young people’s views— and when it comes to the climate, they’re not making policies with our future in mind. We need an education for Life that teaches us skills that we’ll actually need and use, so we can make our voices heard on issues like climate change that really matter to us."

Lydia Nottingham, 15, UKSCN activist, Ramsgate

"Schools are great at teaching us stuff like Pythagoras and what Shakespeare meant by 'Wherefore art thou Romeo?'. What it fails to do is teach us about things we actually need.

Rarely would any adult need to know what the cosine rule is. However the climate crisis will affect all of us if we don’t do something about it. We are destroying the planet every single day and not enough of us know why or how or what we can do about it. All of us who do know have had to learn for ourselves. These life skills will change the world if taught in schools. We wonder why politics are so messed up but never question the fact that it’s not taught in under 16 education. This is an opportunity to change our nation for the better. We need the tools and skills to learn to deal with the challenges that the future presents us with."

"We urge you to teach climate education in schools. It’s a necessity, and there’s no debating it. Teach us something useful, something which will help us fix this mess. "

Elena Belisario, 15, UKSCN activist, Epsom

Anna at a climate strike in Belfast

" If people were educated about the climate crisis, they’d be panicking right about now. 2019 is a tipping point in history and people are acting like it’s just another year. If we were taught facts in school about the climate crisis with it as a part of the core curriculum then there would be no climate crisis. I don’t believe politicians are intrinsically evil or selfish but just not fully educated on the facts.

The education system needs reform because so far it has failed us. Our school system places more attention on the lengths of our skirts than the facts in our heads. Our school system cares more about our hairstyles than our future. We need reform because our current system is disgustingly dire. "

Anna Kernahan, 17, UKSCN activist, Belfast

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Teach the Future is a youth-led campaign to urgently repurpose the entire education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
The English campaign is run by two organisations, UKSCN and SOS-UK.

The Scottish campaign is run by two organisations, FFF Scotland and NUS Scotland.

The campaign is led by a team of over 40 young volunteers. 

We are advised by an adult advisory board.

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