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Shield education from climate change impact

Shield education from climate change impact

It has noted that extreme weather events forced closure of schools and impacted over five million people in the last two decades.

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Last Updated : 19 May 2024, 23:45 IST
Last Updated : 19 May 2024, 23:45 IST
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A recent policy paper from the World Bank has explained how climate change has affected educational outcomes all over the world and put forward some suggestions on how to deal with it.

It has noted that extreme weather events forced closure of schools and impacted over five million people in the last two decades. Heat waves, floods, cyclones and other calamities have resulted in frequent closure of schools and other educational institutions.

Schools remain closed for long periods when the disasters persist. They are also used as evacuation centres. There are instances of school buildings crumbling as a result of disasters.

Climate change also results in increased illness, stress and conflict among children. It has been estimated that one standard deviation change in temperature and rainfall causes a 14 per cent increase in conflict and violence.

Children’s educational achievements and mental faculties are seriously affected by changes in climate. The adverse impact on education also affects future earnings and productivity. 

The impact of climate change on education has not yet been fully appreciated. Since it is different from normal disruptions and is caused by a specific set of circumstances which are only likely to get worse in the coming years, its impact needs to be taken seriously.

Specific solutions will also have to be found. Once the problem is identified, it may be easier to address it. Strategies will have to be formulated and resources found.

The paper suggests that policymakers should take action on multiple fronts to make the education systems more resilient to climate change. These are: improving education management and school infrastructure, equipping teachers and students to be change agents, and ensuring the continuity of learning even when there are disruptions.  

The paper estimates that tropical cyclones cause financial losses of about Rs 4 billion annually to the education sector worldwide. The damage caused by other extreme climate events can well be imagined.

In India, schools are closed when the air quality goes down in Delhi, floods ravage Assam, heat waves rise in northern Karnataka and cyclones hit coastal areas.

Governments should study and assess the direct and indirect impact of climate change on education, and work out strategies to minimise it. The strategies will have to be different from state to state as each state may face a different set of problems.

A single state may also face multiple climate situations in different months of the year. The Central government can prepare guidelines to be followed by states. Resources will have to be found and allocated because education is a sector too important to ignore.

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