Sow the Seeds of Your Future – Educating Children on Responsible Resource Management for Sustainable Livelihoods
Posted in Blogs on March 20, 2023
Posted in Blogs on March 20, 2023
Author: Roeland Monasch, CEO at Aflatoun International
As our world grapples with pressing environmental and economic challenges, it has become increasingly clear that we need to prioritize educating the next generation on responsible resource management. The Global Money Week (GMW) campaign, an annual financial awareness initiative, has recognized this need and is focusing this year’s efforts on the theme of sustainability, which emphasizes the importance of educating children on sustainable resource management for sustainable livelihoods.
With the growing youth population, particularly in low and middle-income countries, it is essential that education systems prioritize an integrated approach that educates children on managing resources balancing the economic, social, and environmental aspects of resource use to ensure that they are used efficiently, sustainably, and equitably.
Currently, education systems tend to prioritize teaching climate change education, social-emotional education, digital skills, financial education, and other 21st-century skills concepts in isolation. However, as part of the transforming education agenda, it is time for us to take a more holistic approach, which is why it is imperative that we prioritize educating children on responsible resource management so they learn to make financially feasible choices for sustainable livelihoods.
For instance, consider young people living in fishing communities who rely on unsustainable fishing practices like overfishing. Overfishing can lead to declines in fish populations and harm ocean ecosystems, which play a critical role in regulating the climate. This is why it is crucial that we educate young people in these communities on the importance of sustainable fishing practices, which are economically sound.
Young farmers who use harmful chemicals and pesticides can also damage the biodiversity of the land and surrounding waterways, leading to a loss of habitats for wildlife and reducing the ability of the land to absorb carbon. Unsustainable irrigation practices, such as over-extraction of groundwater, can lead to water scarcity, reducing the ability of young farmers to grow crops and exacerbating the effects of drought. Clearing forests for agriculture or other purposes also contributes to climate change by releasing large amounts of carbon stored in trees and soil into the atmosphere. To address these challenges, it is essential to educate young people on the importance of responsible resource management and provide them with alternative, economically viable options for sustainable livelihoods.
Teaching financially and socially sustainable practices have long been central to Aflatoun’s curriculum. Aflatoun teaches young people to save both natural resources and money, empowers them to live more economically and sustainably, and enables them to improve both their own lives, and their local environment. Aflatoun students are also taught about climate change, and how their behaviour has the potential to harm or help the environment. They learn to reduce their consumption of non-renewable resources, re-use where possible and recycle. In this way, students are able to draw links between how saving resources can positively impact them (both financially and socially), their communities and the planet.
For example, in Senegal, Aflatoun partner Centre Sportif FAYDA teaches children and young people about the importance of caring for their local environment, organising activities to clean and beautify it. Through their initiative ‘Agriculture in Schools’, FAYDA has created a garden, re-using biodegradable waste from the school and neighbourhood as compost. The garden, which is maintained by students, generates profits from selling produce, which are re-invested into developing the school. Similarly, in Sri Lanka, 16 year old Mathisha Ranathunga started a potted plant business, re-using cans and coconut husks as pots and using garden waste for compost. She now makes a good income from selling these plants.
The many different Aflatoun initiatives around the globe have made us realize that education in responsible resource management should ensure young people gain the knowledge and skills related to environmental issues such as biodiversity, climate change, sustainability, and conservation as well as the financial skills to build environmental resilience and make informed financial decisions for a financially sound, sustainable future.
We also realized that it needs to be age-appropriate, culturally appropriate, and based on a child-centered pedagogy to ensure it sticks with the children and inspires them to take action for their future and the future of others. Teachers play a crucial role in this process. They must be empowered with the tools and knowledge to use active teaching and learning methodologies that encourages children to take ownership of their futures and the impact they have on the world around them and learn to identify financially feasible choices for sustainable livelihoods.
In conclusion, responsible resource management is an essential component of any education system that is being transformed. The rapidly growing number of initiatives around climate change and environmental education on one side and financial education on the other side as part of the transforming education agenda need to come together for a more integrated approach towards this aspect of education. We need to equip the next generation with the knowledge and skills they need to create economic sound pathways for sustainable livelihoods. It is time for us to “Sow the Seeds of Our Future” and ensure that the youth of today are equipped to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.
About Global Money Week (GMW)
Global Money Week is an annual global awareness-raising campaign on the importance of ensuring that young people, from an early age, are financially aware, and are gradually acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours necessary to make sound financial decisions and ultimately achieve financial well-being and financial resilience. GMW organized by OECD is a spin-off from Aflatoun Day, organized by Aflatoun International as an annual celebration and learning event for all its 350 partners in 100 countries organized every year in March.