Azizah came up with the initial idea to hold a Skillshare following a trip to Australia for the Asia Pacific Climate Change Leadership Congress in 2011 where she had a conversation with Australian and Indian educators at the event, while visiting the Hepburn community wind farm. Inspired by community renewable energy projects in Victoria, 12 months later the idea has sparked into reality.
‘Ever since learning about climate change at university, I have tried to make stronger connections between educators and environmental issues. In Indonesia, teachers are well respected in their communities. Their position gives them power to inform family, school students and colleagues – we can tap into this power to communicate climate change,’ Azizah explained from her office in Medan, Sumatra.
In 2007, Azizah co-founded Green Teachers Indonesia. ‘We have a big goal for 2013 – with the Leadership skills we gain from the Skillshare, we aim to expand Green Teachers Indonesia to all 33 districts in Sumatra.’ Right now they have a presence in 7.
Her work is aimed at expanding to fill the gap which exists at the moment in terms of what is taught at schools about caring for the environment.
“The environment is not a priority in schools right now, but it is just a matter of putting this concern on the agenda’’ Azizah explained.
‘I went to talk to the principal of a school in Binjai, about 20km away from my home town Medan. At first he said it wasn’t possible to create change. He said “my school is very small. We plant one tree, other people cut down thousands”. After attending my presentation on climate change, he now understands the importance of action. Now the school has planted many, many trees, recycle their prayer water for the fish pond and watering the trees, and set up a system of e composting. They even have an ‘eco-hero’ student program. This is a good example of what people are happy to do once they understand the issue.’
‘This Skillshare will allow us to create a broader understanding of climate change education across the region. I am looking forward to learning from our peers in India and Australia. A shared vision is just so important as we face the challenges ahead.’
The Skillshare will be managed by The Climate Reality Project Australia on behalf of AusAID.