The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched an electronic learning platform, Sustainable and Rational Water Use, that offers schoolchildren and teachers in Azerbaijan and Georgia online training courses focused on sustainable management of water resources.
Available in three languages–Azerbaijani, Georgian and English—the training courses cover a range of topics, from water-saving practices to the impact of climate change on rivers and other bodies of water. The educational programs are adapted for school children of different ages. In addition, a specially designed module guides teachers through a methodology for environmental education.
The e-learning platform is a UNDP initiative funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) under the regional Kura-2 project that assists Azerbaijan and Georgia in harmonizing water use policies and practices to manage more sustainably their shared river basin, known as Mtkvari in Georgia and Kura in Azerbaijan.
The digital tool was created by the Georgian company Mindworks and successfully piloted in Azerbaijan and Georgia in 2020, overcoming the challenges to education posed by the COVID-19 lockdown.
In partnership with the relevant government agencies in Azerbaijan and Georgia, the e-learning platform will be introduced into the school programs in both countries as an extracurricular activity. In Georgia, UNDP and GEF are working with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) and the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Georgia (MoESCS).
“Learning about water opens a window into climate and the environment more broadly,” said UNDP Head in Georgia Louisa Vinton. “We are confident that our e-learning platform will help young people understand that protecting scarce water resources and indeed the future of the planet is their hands.”
“Even during a pandemic, we succeded in implementing this fascinating educational and environmental project that reaches out to youth,” noted Nino Tkhilava, Head of MEPA’s Environment and Climate Change Department.
“Launching an e-learning tool is the first step on a long road,” said Ahmed Elseoud, Chief Technical Advisor of the UNDP/GEF Kura-2 project. “We are working to expand this educational project and make it available to all schools in Azerbaijan and Georgia.”
The e-learning platform Sustainable and Rational Water Use was piloted in the Georgian city of Gori by the non-governmental organization “Environment and Development” that teamed up with Gori University, the local water distribution company and the local government to demonstrate tangible benefits of water-saving practices and engage schoolchildren, teachers and students in a water campaign.
In the future, the e-learning platform will be integrated into the website of the MEPA’s Environmental Information and Education Center, which provides information on Georgia’s natural resources and environmental policies.