Environmental education is a vital part of creating the changes that will shift the Caribbean towards sustainable energy development. So says Dr. Paulette Bynoe, Deputy Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research at the University of Guyana (UG). She would know, having led the team contracted by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)-implemented TAPSEC programme to partner with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to “Green” the regional secondary and post-secondary curricula.
Alongside her team, Dr. Bynoe worked to integrate elements of energy conservation, renewable energy and energy efficiency into ten CSEC and CAPE subjects. The ultimate aim was to empower students to — not just learn about sustainability but — become advocates within their own households and communities. To achieve this goal, the UG team began with auditing the subjects to determine the extent to which they captured aspects of sustainable energy. They then surveyed teachers and students and touched base with energy experts for their insights on what should be included. Based on their learnings, they modified the existing curricula to include a focus on energy conservation, renewable energy and energy efficiency. In order to empower the region’s educators to deliver the updated curricula effectively, Dr. Bynoe and her team developed a teacher’s training manual, housed within CXC’s Learning Institute platform, and embarked on a comprehensive capacity-building exercise, during which they conducted a number of dynamic, interactive and engaging training sessions with teachers from across the Caribbean. The result is a group of educators well-prepared to guide their students in taking positive actions towards sustainable energy development.
Dr. Bynoe credits the successful execution of this project to UG’s strong partnership with CXC and GIZ/TAPSEC. Fondly recalling the helpful bilateral communication that enabled the development of this project from beginning to end, she says “I would work with CXC any day”. She also applauds the organisation for conceptualising the project which, she explains, provides the region with what it needs to make a change. As it relates to TAPSEC, Dr. Bynoe says “we could not do what we did without the support” and praises the programme for its hands-on approach. From monthly meetings, to project planning and attending sessions, TAPSEC’s level of engagement went beyond that of a typical funding institution, creating a sense of ownership and offering encouragement that helped her team to always “put [their] best foot forward”.
This “greening” of regional curricula falls in line with the University’s own perspective on the importance of sustainability as Dr. Bynoe is currently in the process of creating a charter intended to guide UG in greening its own operations. This charter, which will focus on the pillars of ecology, social participation and economics, aims to integrate sustainability into various subjects offered by the University as well as operational policies such as procurement. The charter’s ultimate goal is the same as that of the “Greening the Curriculum” project: to shift the common thinking towards an understanding that humans are not outside of the environment but part of it and to do so by enlightening the students who will soon be leaving their classrooms and lecture halls to lead the change themselves.
After all, as Dr. Bynoe says: “Every single citizen of this world can have a role in the trajectory towards a greener planet, towards sustainability and towards being carbon neutral. We just have to be motivated to do it and what moves us to the motivation is the process of environmental education.”