Teacher’s notes


Fruit of international collaboration, this kit has been designed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). It seeks to demonstrate that drought and desertification are worldwide problems affecting every region of the planet. A global effort from the international community is necessary to combat desertification and/or limit the effects of drought.

This kit will help bring the combat against desertification into the classroom.
It is composed of five elements:

  1. a teacher’s guide;
  2. case studies from different regions throughout the world;
  3. a cartoon ‘The School Where the Magic Tree Grows’, inspired from one of the case studies;
  4. a wall poster for the classroom.

Educational objectives of the kit

To improve the visibility of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
To explain in simple terms the content of the UNCCD.
To provide teachers with a solid educational foundation on the themes of desertification.
To contribute to the diffusion of knowledge on the theme of desertification.
To present case studies intended to give teachers concrete examples of projects undertaken, conforming to the objectives and within the spirit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
To demonstrate that desertification, although a serious problem, can be tackled in a fun and exciting way. This is the role of the two cartoons included in the kit.

Beneficaries of the kit:

The kit is especially aimed at teachers and their pupils at the end of primary school education.

How to use

The teacher’s guide (this document)

The educational guide contained in this kit is addressed to teachers around the world living in areas affected by or under threat from desertification. For this reason, the guide should be seen as a general presentation to be adapted to the specific realities and preoccupations of each region or country. The guide begins with the different problems of desertification, which the teachers could integrate into lessons (fauna, flora, crop varieties or rearing, methods of land exploitation, socio-economic problems etc.). It presents the major objectives of the Convention and proposes several solutions to combat desertification.

– Presentation by unit

The guide is composed of work units providing references for thought and activities for teachers and pupils with each work unit presenting a theme that contributes to the elaboration of small local projects. The teacher could compile the lesson by using several units depending on his/her time schedule, and could support each unit with his/her own experiences and problems encountered locally, without neglecting to explain the problems and specificities of other countries. After each lesson, it would be useful to provide the pupils with a short summary of the most important points.

– Classroom Activities

The class activities at the end of each unit can ideally be integrated throughout the school curriculum through the diverse subjects that act as a support to this teaching: geography, natural sciences, maths, writing and oral skills, history, gardening, art, theatre, music and song, sport and nature excursions. While they are only suggestions, everyone should take the initiative to adapt them to the specific geographic and socio-economic situation encountered locally (characteristics of your natural and human environment, production systems, etc) and to the teacher’s work schedule.

– Partnerships

It is recommended that before beginning a unit, partnerships be forged, thus providing input to enhance lessons (in class or outdoor activities). Teachers could invite fauna and flora specialists who could present the results of their research work. The participation of elders and parents is also recommended. Invite and involve families who may require information to consolidate their knowledge so they can become involved in existing or future development projects while sharing their experiences. Surprise your pupils by taking unexpected initiatives. They could prove productive!

– Glossary

Words or expressions underlined throughout the text are explained at the end of the guide.

The case studies (accompanying document)

The commitment by pupils to undertake small school projects is the challenge posed by the kit. By way of concrete and successful examples, the teacher can draw upon each of the case studies that comprise the compilation, which have all been carried out within the spirit of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and conform to its objectives. The teacher may accompany classroom lessons on desertification by using these positive examples. Attentive reading of the case studies should provide the teacher with the required knowledge base in the field of combating desertification. They are intended to encourage children to adopt an environmentally friendly attitude towards the rare natural resources found in their region and their natural world. The global approach of this collection, presenting both the causes and consequences of desertification as well as the possible solutions in the different continents affected by desertification, aims to raise awareness among the pupils to the universal character of environmental problems. In addition, comparing methods employed by different people will help all those concerned to think globally, enlarging the horizons for each of them.

– Pratical activities

At the end of each case study classroom activities are proposed to help the teacher incorporate the case studies throughout the course. When discussing a particular project in class, the teacher could invite the children to respond by asking them to locate the country on the map and compare the situations to those featured in the study. Finally, tasks including drawing assignments, question and answer discussions and role-playing, could be assigned to complement the classroom activities.

– Glossary

The words underlined throughout the text are explained in the glossary at the end of the collection.

The cartoons (accompanying documents)

The two cartoons demonstrate that despite the seriousness of desertification, the subject can be approached in an attractive way that encourages fun. The cartoons are intended for the pupils. The cartoon There is No Rug Big Enough to Sweep the Desert Under has been reprinted from a previous version produced within the framework of the First Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD held in Rome, Italy in 1997. The cartoon The School Where the Magic Tree Grows is a loose adaptation of a case study carried out by a NGO ‘JUNDEP’ that set up a school nursery project to combat desertification in Chile.

The wall poster (accompanying document)

The poster is designed to visually present the different regions of the world affected by desertification. It also proposes several simple techniques to combat desertification.