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Green Skills 2022 Award Winners

Croatia’s international Green Changemakers wins top prize.

Nigerian entrepreneurial recycling and training scheme Operation Skill Them Up and the solar energy initiative of African training network Don Bosco are runners up.

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A Croatian-led international project involving primary and secondary schools in Croatia, Armenia and Turkey – the Green Changemakers – was named the winner last night (Thursday June 9, 2022) of the ETF’s Green Skills Awards 2022.

The group of five primary and secondary schools installs environmental awareness in youngsters across 17 key sustainable development goals designed to address the needs of the green and digital transition. Schools in Vukovar, Karlovac, and Zagreb log daily and weekly activities, along with counterparts in Turkey and Armenia.

Focused on goals that include no poverty, zero hunger and good health and well-being, as well as quality education, gender quality, and good sanitation, students design a range of projects that inculcate green awareness from the earliest age. Broad and deep, the goals include installing an appreciation of the need for decent work, responsible consumption, and affordable, clean energy in all areas of life.

One of ten finalists from a field of 64 applicants, the project attracted 1,650 of the more than 3,700 public votes cast in the competition.

An example of the inclusivity of its projects was that of students at Vukovar High School, who plant saffron bulbs to raise awareness of discrimination and racism, remembering the 1.5 million Jewish children – and thousands of others – who died during the Holocaust.

“Students learn about the need for sustainable management of natural resources, the limits of workload, human resources, and personal and shared responsibilities and rights,” one of the Green Changemakers leaders, Vukovar teacher, Sanja Pavlovic Sijanovic, said.

Designed to showcase educational and collaborative projects that inspire innovation and creativity in the development of green skills, the awards were launched in 2021.

Announcing the winners at a ceremony livestreamed on social media from the ETF’s Turin, Italy, headquarters, ETF communications officer Maria Lvova and human capital development and green skills expert, Romain Boitard, emphasised the role education and training has in ensuring people across the world meet the demands of the inevitable green and digital transition we all face.

A video presentation emphasised that “as machines and technology take over more routine tasks” there will be demands for “uniquely human capabilities” that would emphasise creativity, communication, collaborative working and complex problem solving.

Both second and third placed finalists demonstrated aspect of these new demands:

Nigeria’s Operation Skill Them Up is a project that teaches young people skills of self-reliance and entrepreneurship through recycling, repurposing and upcycling waste that include wood, plastics and old tyres.

Founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Goodness Tamuno Kelechi-Ahunanya, in a country with an “alarming rate of unemployment” she set up G-Shapers Vocational Enterprise, a mobile skills facilitator and advocate.

Today Goodness visits schools to bring the message of self-reliance and entrepreneurship to young people around the country.

More than 500 have benefited – and some now employ people too.

The third placed finalist also came from Africa, attracting 1,149 votes. Kenya’s Don Bosco Tec is part of a network of 109 technical colleges spread across 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Plagued by the vagaries of power supply in the continent, the college designed a solar alternative to polluting diesel-powered backups to run machinery and computers when energy blackouts hit.

It invested in its own solar photovoltaic panels, set up training courses and designed and published a manual now in course in colleges across the network.

The prize-winners each receive a wooden star-shaped plaque, along with a small “goodie bag” from the ETF.

The full list of the 10 finalists was:

Albania – The City of My Dream

Croatia - The Green Changemakers

Georgia - K4S Academy

Georgia – Environment and Agricultural Education in School

Ireland – 50 Shades Greener

Jordan - Creating Green land

Kenya -Don Bosco Tec Africa

Moldova – Training the Green Trainers

Netherlands – Blue Hotspot Dordrecht

Nigeria - Operation Skill Them Up

There was also a special mention for Ukraine – where eight vocational colleges are part of international climate change and zero-carbon initiative, GRETA.

In a video presentation, the ETF noted that although Ukrainian participants were “today facing a tragedy, tomorrow they will be key to rebuilding the nation.”

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