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Country: Indonesia
SDG Region: Eastern and South-Eastern Asia
Sector: Formal education
Keywords: Formal education, religious education, place-based learning, local knowledge, Indigenous knowledges, local adaptation

Located on the slopes of the Slamet Volcano, the village of Gununglurah in Pesawahan Hamlet is home to a unique junior high school that sits on the forest’s edge.

Forest Community Youth and Climate Change Adaptation

Most of the families in Gununglurah grow and harvest different plants, such as cardamom or coffee, and many young people used to drop out of school to support their families, by either working in the fields or getting married. Schooling used to be so far away from the village that students were unable to attend school because they had to contribute to their family’s farms instead.

That all changed when the local Islamic junior high school, Madrasah Tsanawiyah, was established by environmental and education activists in 2011. Lessons here are guided by the school’s philosophy: Piety, Achievement, Knowledge, Integrity, Sincerity. 

Climate change education at the school uniquely integrates action- and place-based learning, local knowledge, and religious education using a ‘climate care school’ curriculum.

In exploring the integration of climate change in the curriculum at Madrasah Tsanawiyah, the case study highlights the school’s use of the natural conditions of the surrounding environment as a medium of learning.

To learn about climate change, students participate in activities both inside and outside of the classroom. Lessons foster a variety of creative skills such as writing short stories, creating posters, photography, painting, and posting on social media. Students explore the surrounding forest, identify and protect bird habitats, and plant trees. Lessons learned from the ‘climate care school’ curriculum at Madrasah Tsanawiyah are being shared in a variety of ways, including a book published as part of the case study, to support further uptake.

In addition to using nature as a pedagogical tool, climate change education at the school also incorporates Indigenous knowledges and local adaptation. The case study found that the school community sees local knowledge as important because it helps ensure climate change education is relevant to the community’s culture and traditions. For example, students learn how their ancestors cared for the environment through Javanese wayang, a traditional form of storytelling through puppetry. Children are also taught skills that link livelihoods, such as agroforestry and coffee production, with climate change adaptation and mitigation practices. School lessons also stop at noon to allow students to return home to work in the fields.

Climate change education is seen as an extension of the spiritual education students receive. This includes imparting a desire to help all of God’s creatures (alive and inanimate) and developing environmental, moral, and ethical principles to support nature conservation. These theological understandings are meant to increase students’ sensitivity to nature changes in weather, seasonal shifts, and other natural phenomena.

The case study of the climate change education taking place at the Madrasah Tsanawiyah showcases the ability of education and schooling to support children to become agents in developing and implementing solutions to climate change. Through education, student engagement, and traditional wisdom, students and the community are being empowered to develop strategic local solutions that are improving the climate resilience and resource sustainability of the community.

The MECCE Project is grateful to Badan Riset dan Inovasi Nasional for conducting this case study


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