Education and engaging young people

As part of the Faith Long-Term Plans series, today’s webinar discussed how to engage young people on environmental issues, whether in formal settings such as schools, or informally through youth groups, nature camps and eco-twinning programmes.

The speakers included Mary Bellekom from Faith in Water; Barasa Wafula, a consultant in education and sustainable development from Kenya; Anastasia Retno Pujiastuti from Pepulih, Indonesia; and Kamran Shezad from Eco Islam, UK.

You can watch a recording of the webinar by clicking the link below.

Moderator Alison Prout, Director of the International Network for Conservation and Religion (INCR) began by introducing the Faith Long-Term Plans programme as a framework for ambitious change. The Plans should resonate with theology, practice and belief and be embedded in faith, she said. The Faith Long-Term Plans have seven key areas, of which education and young people are one. Today was the second of FaithInvest’s deep dive webinars into the programme.

It takes a village to raise a child

Our first speaker was Mary Bellekom, from UK charity Faith in Water, who has worked in education since she was in her 20s and with faith schools around the world. She has been a teacher in the UK, Chile and Cameroon. Most of her projects are currently based in Uganda.

Mary said: 'Good education is layered, holistic and far reaching, and knowledge and understanding lead to conviction, respect, responsibility, action.' Mary urged faith groups to look at the administration behind every school. How sound is the administration? How sustainable is the school?

She stressed that an entire community of people must interact with children so they can grow in a safe and healthy environment – it really does 'take a village' to raise a child.

Investing in youth is the wisest form of investment

Barasa Wafula spoke on promoting values-based education for sustainable development. Barasa has nurtured a career in teaching and sustainable development spanning 20 years, and believes wholeheartedly in the integration of faith values into the school curriculum.

Barasa identified ten values, including faith, respect, peace, stewardship, accountability and honesty, that should be integrated in the curriculum. He said: 'Investing in youth is the wisest form of investment because it guarantees a more sustainable future.'

When action is aligned to faith values, it often becomes a lifelong commitment, and that is why Barasa has been involved in setting up care creation committees in schools to lead conservation initiatives, developing school environmental policy that leads to ownership of the programme by all stakeholders and allows greater participation, developing advocacy and awareness creation campaigns, and networking and forming partnerships with government