Chole Richard

A date for students with a young climate justice activist.

If I were a secondary school teacher, especially living in Kampala, I would consider giving opportunity for my students to meet a remarkable person in the forthcoming monthly conversation with an author organized by FEMRITE Uganda at their offices on August 7th 2023.  

Here is an opportunity to explore connection between subjects taught in class and a pertinent, cross-cutting issue of climate change. The “unlikely candidate”, literature class obviously now has a clear passage since the meeting is principally to the interests of writers and readers. Nakate, the climate change activist has utilized her literary creativity and prowess to address the issue she is so passionate about in her book, “A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis”. The moderator will certainly want to devote some time to satisfy the curiosity of participants interested in literary creativity. But does this mean mathematics, chemistry, history, geography, and all the other disciplines are left out? Certainly not. Content produced can be fashioned to suit needs of any subject. All it requires is a teachers’ imagination and creativity, as well as the will to organize and participate.

A SUGGESTION: With ten days before date with Vanessa Nakate, let participating students study her book, as well as do research from all possible sources about the author, the book itself, climate change and other relevant areas. I can only imagine the learning excitement that will go on in the class even before meeting the author. The air of expectation will likely hit the roof! Even more importantly, they will meet the star- guest with informed minds and participate more meaningfully in the conversation. The key is to support students to prepare themselves well in advance for the day.   

I think one of the dilemmas for a secondary school teacher today is finding experts or very resourceful persons for their students to interact with to make any given area of study a real-life experience. FEMRITE has solved the issue with bucket-full of opportunities. Vanessa Nakate is no commonplace person by virtue of what she has achieved for herself from a very young age.  She is a representation of how much the world is changing, not just in terms of the climate, but by possibilities now available for young people to be impactful in their small localities, country level or globally (Even Mars is in sight!).

As Ugandans, sometimes we are hard on ourselves for being non-starters or low achievers. There is some truth to it, but again I think it informs young people undesirably. Like her fight against climate change, Vanessa Nakate defiantly places this Ugandan negativity to shame in no ordinary ways. She should be a natural choice influencer for teachers (and even parents) to think about for the youngsters under their care.

Mark you, there is an extended time for informal chat with every participant over tea after the formal conversation. It will be a gloriously well spent evening for students who will meet her. Just be sure to plan for reflection time for the class, preferably in the morning of the very next day. By then, so many ideas would have been brewed for harvest, and a new Vanessa Nakate would probably have been born.  

Date for the meeting: August 7th 2023. TIME: 5.30PM to 7.30pm.

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