September 29, 2022

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Kigali: Youth call for Challenge driven Education as Environmental and Climate Change issues continue to pose threats to public Health

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

Young people from different universities are asking the government, development partners and private sector to join forces and help them implement their programs aimed at finding solutions to environmental problems.

This was requested on Friday, August 12, 2022 during one-day workshop organized by the WE DO GREEN on “The Role of Universities in Tackling Climate Change and Advancing Sustainable Development Agenda.”

Commenting on the reason why such an interactive workshop was organized Emmanuel Sindikubwabo, the Executive Director of WE DO GREEN explained that “the event coincided with the International Youth Day themed “Intergenerational solidarity: creating a world for all ages.”

Emmanuel Sindikubwabo, the Executive Director of WE DO GREEN

“Today’s event mainly is to connect with development partners, policymakers, and young people, especially university students who are enrolled in the discipline of Climate Change, Environmental sciences and natural resources, to be able to learn and engage effectively to be able to respond to events in climate change, but also advance sustainable development.” He said.

The event convened environmental students, policy makers (Ministry of Environment), practitioners, youth-led CSOs/eco-startups, students associations, researchers and media to unveil emerging policies, strategies and anchor university innovations to address the rapidly escalating global climate crisis and advance SDG agenda. 

Currently, young people continue to show interest in finding solutions to cope with the effects of climate change. But on the other hand, the youth still have the problem of limited financial means to be able to implement their project ideas. However, the issue of knowledge was also brought up where the youth demanded that the lecture given to students on the environment and other related sectors should focus on practical solutions rather than being theoretical.

Mrs Faida Zubeda-Youth Activist, Co-founder and Programs Manager, Save Environment Initiative

During a panel discussion at the workshop, Mrs Faida Zubeda-Youth Activist, Co-founder and Programs Manager, Save Environment Initiative insisted on the need for collaboration adding that more practical solutions are highly needed considering the magnitude of the challenges to be addressed.

 “We need collaborative efforts from the government, development entities and universities specifically, because they have a lot of quite a number of young people. The reason why we require them is that they don’t have to teach us the theoretical only or we need to know the technical expertise that we can go out with.” Mrs Faida Zubeda said.

“We also need to be exposed enough, because when you get exposed, you get to learn more. Lectures say that they publish a lot of papers, but I think more of the objective is influencing the policymaker and what they can contribute to the local communities. I think as young people we need to be involved as long as WE DO GREEN has started to create an alliance firstly to build our capacity and know where we can enhance our skills.” She added.

Prof Kabera Telesphore from the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology noted that it is time to start creating challenge driven education to focus a lot on solutions.

“Because when we talk about challenge driven education, we target challenges, we don’t target a programme. So when you target the challenge, for example, I can give an example here, when you talk about air pollution, you’re not talking about designing a cookstove only. We are also talking about public health, because we have to see how people are being impacted by indoor air pollution. So through that, every lecture is going to be monitored closely, which is going to be my test to really start from our college. And then later on, it will go into other colleges of the University of Rwanda.” Prof Kabera said.

Prof Kabera Telesphore from the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology

“We are going again to start a PhD programme, whereby we are not going to change the lecture. We need the people who work from government institutions, those who face the problems, they bring those problems, and then we shape them together and then find solutions through their PhD” He revealed.

YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD ALSO LEARN FROM THEIR PEERS

According to Mr Philippe Taflinski- Head of Development Cooperation at the Germany Embassy in Kigali who showed the German Government and Embassy’s role in helping Rwanda achieve its ambitious goals in environmental protection and tackling the issue of climate change also noted that there are quite a lot that the young people in Rwanda can do while at the same time learning from other young people for instance the German youth.

He said “The youth movement has been most active in Germany in recent years, like in many other countries. They have a massive presence in the different cities, and they organize several events and they are characterized by a number of aspects including some technical expertise, they know what they’re talking about. They know of the spreads and the impacts of climate change. But they also have practical proposals to respond to them and they also have a cooperative attitude to go to the dialogue with decision makers and the profit that requires professional organizational skills. So with that, they shape political discussions on the national level, around climate policies. 

Mr Philippe Taflinski- Head of Development Cooperation at the Germany Embassy in Kigali

“And actually, we had parliamentary elections at the end of last year, where some of them made it into the national parliament. So some of them are sitting in the parliament shaping policies.” He said.

Mr Philippe Taflinski was demonstrating how the young people must be the firsts to expose their ability so that partners are also encouraged by their commitment which can attract more investments not only from the German Government but also from the other donors.

In the meantime, involving more young people in environmental and climate crisis responses is still an issue of concern.

According to Mr Arrabothu  Dheeraj from the Global Green Growth Institute-Rwanda there is always this problem of how youth can be involved more into Green projects.

“We do involve youth to some extent, but we are always challenged. How can we involve them more in terms of designing these projects or implementing these projects? I think this is an area that we are still improving. How can we bring Academia? How can we bring the kind of research that is being done to academia to kind of look at the solutions that we have? Are there any other interesting solutions that we can bring out of their research so that they can be developed.” He said.

Speaking to the youth Ms. Joy, NPA Country Director said “But as youth, we want you to be practical. But advocacy alone without tangible results on the ground, does not measure into anything. And that’s why we have monitoring. So I encourage WE DO GREEN to continue advocating for policy change, to contribute to policy change, but you cannot convince the government when you don’t have practical solutions.”
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