Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Carbon Partners?

    Carbon Partners is a 3 year project, funded by DfID, to develop a model for school partnerships with Africa that is based on justice rather than charity.

    Many school links with African schools have a strong focus on fundraising and whilst this can be hugely beneficial (and sometimes essential), the way in which fundraising is done can sometimes compound negative stereotypes of “poor, helpless Africans” and lead to an unequal partnership.

    Carbon Partners turns that around! The model uses carbon footprinting as a real and tangible example of global injustice and gives students an opportunity to make a difference.

  • How does the Carbon Partners model work?

    The first step is to calculate the carbon footprints of the two schools. In order to do this, students must consider many lifestyle factors including how they travel to school, what they eat, what their classroom looks like, what they buy and the way in which they study and learn.

    After the two schools have calculated their carbon footprints, the UK school works out how much more than their fair share of global greenhouse gases they are producing and therefore what their “carbon debt” is. There is still a place for fundraising but rather than being a charitable act, it is reframed as reducing the “debt owed” to the African school to pay for the extra carbon emissions. This will help to change the balance of the partnership to one about equity and fairness – everyone is suffering the effects of climate change so we have to take responsibility for our contribution towards it.

    The UK school also realises that they also have a responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint by saving energy in school, encouraging walking to school, serving locally grown food and raising awareness about sustainability issues. After the two schools have calculated their carbon footprints, the UK school works out how much more than their fair share of global greenhouse gases they are producing and therefore what their “carbon debt” is. There is still a place for fundraising but rather than being a charitable act, it is reframed as reducing the “debt owed” to the African school to pay for the extra carbon emissions. This will help to change the balance of the partnership to one about equity and fairness – everyone is suffering the effects of climate change so we have to take responsibility for our contribution towards it.

    The Carbon Footprints are a starting point to explore issues of global justice, sustainability, development and active citizenship. Sessions are run in both the UK and African schools to encourage students to reflect on these issues. Students in the African school are also encouraged to consider how the funds that are transferred to them as part of the ‘carbon debt’ can best help their community make progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and reducing poverty. There is an emphasis in the model on interdependence, the need to work together and explore with your partner school what you can learn from each other. It’s a great way to build the links with your partner school.

  • What is a carbon footprint?

    A carbon footprint is a measure of how much greenhouse gases you produce. Carbon footprints are measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The two biggest contributors to your school's carbon footprint will probably be your energy usage and the waste that you throw away. But you will also need to look at travel to school, the food served in the canteen and products that you buy such as paper.

  • Why use carbon footprints?

    The great thing about carbon footprinting as a way to explore global injustice is that it is based on data that is relevant to students; it is fairly easy to calculate and real to them. This means that not only can they understand it, but they can see how they can do something about it and make positive change.

    Also, as mentioned above, in order to calculate the carbon footprints, students must consider many lifestyle factors including how they travel to school, what they eat, what their classroom looks like, what they buy and the way in which they study and learn.

  • How can I find a school in Africa to link with?

    DCSF’s Global Gateway website has a search facility to look for partner schools as well as lots of guidance and tips for setting up and maintaining a good partnership.

  • What are the Millennium Development Goals?

    The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of eight targets that were agreed by world leaders in 2000 to tackle extreme global poverty. They include goals on reducing poverty, hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, gender inequality and environmental degradation. The aim was to achieve the goals by 2015 although some are currently not on target to do so. For more information click here: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals