By Sharon Atieno

Ocean education is to be included in the school curricula of the 193 Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by 2025.

The announcement was made during the One Ocean Summit taking place in Brest, France. To achieve this goal, the organization is making available to public decision-makers a toolkit with a shared reference framework of educational content on the ocean.

“The international community must make education one of the pillars of its action for the ocean. Because if we want to protect it better, we must teach it better. On the occasion of the One Ocean Summit, I am setting a common objective for our 193 Member States: to include ocean education in school curricula by 2025,” announced Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, the UN agency leading the Decade of Ocean Sciences, during her presence in Brest.

To achieve this ambitious goal, UNESCO unveiled a common repository of educational content for policymakers and curriculum developers which gives them all the keys needed to integrate ocean education at every level of the educational chain: from the drafting of national curricula to the preparation of lessons by teachers.

“Thanks to this toolkit, all States are on an equal footing, rapidly able to place the ocean at the heart of education and increase students’ knowledge in this area so that they become responsible and committed citizens,” explained Stefania Giannini, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General in charge of education in a statement.

In its reference tool, UNESCO highlights the good practices of Member States already working on ocean education, such as Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Kenya, Portugal and Sweden. In the form of case studies, the Organization presents the main results achieved by these countries, as well as the opportunities and challenges met when seeking to include ocean knowledge in a structured way in the curriculum.

The education will also be inclusive of traditional skills and knowledge such as those protected by the 2001 Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage, which promotes ancestral fishing techniques, for example.

Additionally, the new toolkit leaves it to Member States and regions to adapt the “theory of change” to their specific practices, situations and needs.

UNESCO will monitor the implementation of this objective by its 193 Member States. A first progress report is planned for COP27, which will be held in November 2022 in Egypt.

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