Survey results from students suggest that Albertan teens want to learn more about climate change in school.
In the spring of 2021 the Alberta Youth Leaders for Environmental Education, a group composed of Grades 7-12, surveyed 318 Albertans, most of them in Grades 6-12.
More than 80 percent of respondents stated that they believe there should be more environmental education for Alberta, and 53% said they strongly believed that the provincial government should provide more education on climate change, energy, and environmental issues.
Three students were part of the survey’s creation, analysis and conduct.
“It’s encouraging that the numbers are as high as they have been, and it gives me a lot hope to have that concrete proof that people care about this,” said Avry Krawolt (Grade 12) from St. Martin de Porres High school in Airdrie.
The group’s most recent Report on the survey resultsAll Albertans are required to update their curriculum and provide support for environmental education.
Belief and hope
The online survey was distributed via social media, clubs, and school administration groups in March and April. It asked students questions about their knowledge and perspectives on climate change and energy.
The survey was completed by most students from Fort McMurray to Calgary. Others were from Lethbridge, Edmonton, Calgary and Nanton.
It is difficult to determine a margin for error in online surveys. However, AYLEE stated for comparison that based on statistics about Alberta student population, a probability sampling with the same number of students would yield a margin for error of plus/minus six per cent, 19 out of 20.
Seventy-three percent of respondents to the survey said they were concerned about the effects of climate change. Only 10% said they were not concerned about their future with respect to the economy or the environment.
Although the survey captured some students’ climate concerns it also revealed that many respondents believed Alberta’s economy couldexcel while protecting the environment.
Climate and the curriculum
Students ranked school classes third after news sources when asked where they learned about environmental topics.
Lauren Laplante (AYLEE member, Grade 12 student at Ross Sheppard School in Edmonton) said that “I have had very little to none environmental education in school.”
She estimates that between science, social studies, she spent approximately 10 schooldays grappling with the topic. But she believes that there should be more time.
Currently, science courses include most of the learning outcomes related to climate change and energy.
Subashini Thangadurai is an AYLEE member, and Grade 10 student at SirWinston Churchill High school in Calgary. She contributed to a White paperThat called for climate education and climate action integration into all subjects.
Thangadurai was also part. working groupThe committee reviewed the K-6 draft curriculum, and recommended that more content be added on climate, energy, and environment topics.
Nicole Sparrow was the press secretary to Education Minister Adriana Lagarange. She stated that the government recognizes the need for an update in current curriculum to ensure that students are aware of climate change.
She stated that more than 1300 Albertans gave feedback on the draft science K-6 curriculum. The government is committed to listening and working with parents, environmental organizations, partners and Albertans in order to strengthen it.
After the K-6 curriculum is complete, the curriculum for other grades will be updated.