Finnish citizens propose Climate Change Education for legitimate school subject

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As climate school strikes take place around the world, policy makers look for adequate responses to the generations who will suffer the consequences of climate change. Meanwhile, a citizens’ initiative in Finland proposes Climate Change Education for a school subject. If the initiative manages to collect 50,000 signatures from private citizens, it will proceed to the Finnish Parliament.

Headlines around the world have recently reported student strikes, publicly protesting against ignorant climate policies. Extreme measures taken by the generations who will predictably suffer most from the consequences of climate change, have awoken international discussion on what is to be done.  

Controlling climate change undeniably requires immediate action, but also continuous efforts in the long run. As a response to the climate anxiety felt by students globally, a citizens’ initiative in Finland now proposes to include Climate Change Education (CCE) as a legitimate school subject.

Climate change is already taught at Finnish schools, but the topic is fragmented and dealt with under different subjects, such as biology and geography. As a result, students might find it challenging to form a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon.

Were CCE taught as its own subject, it could ascertain that climate change related issues are dealt with in a multi-disciplinary context, a logical order, and within an atmosphere that encourages students to understand the issue and find solutions for adapting to the changing climate.

Looking to exceed 50,000 signatures

In Finland, citizens have a unique opportunity to influence national laws by proposing changes through a citizens’ initiative. If an initiative manages to collect 50,000 signatures from private citizens in six months, the Finnish Parliament is legally obliged to process it. Former successes include equal marriage law, which began as a citizens’ initiative and came to action in 2017.

The citizens’ initiative “Climate Change Education for School subject” is currently live on a national online platform kansalaisaloite.fi, and within two weeks has collected over 8 000 signatures from private citizens.

– We hope the initiative manages to collect the necessary signatures and proceeds to the Parliament. Climate change took our generation by surprise and we have to find effective ways and willingness to fight the phenomenon today. But it’s also our responsibility to make sure that future adults have all the skills and knowledge in order to cope with climate change. That’s why we need to pay attention to basic education, says Johannes Saukko, one of the initiators. 

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