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Report Finds Oil Industry Influences School Programs In Canada

The oil industry influences how climate change and environmental issues are taught at schools in Canada’s province of Saskatchewan, as it has a significant social power over the classrooms, a new report has found.  

The authors of the report are Simon Enoch, Director of the Saskatchewan Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Emily Eaton, an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Regina and a co-investigator with the Corporate Mapping Project.

Enoch and Eaton have interviewed teachers, administrators, and representatives of third-party educational organizations sponsored by the oil industry, to find out if recent conservative claims that schools in Canada are powerful anti-oil lobbyists are true.

According to the authors’ findings, not only are schools not influenced by anti-oil lobbyists, but it is the oil industry that exerts undue influence over the teachers in Saskatchewan classrooms about teaching students about environmental issues and climate change.

The study found that three oil industry-sponsored third-party organizations have been active in Saskatchewan public schools over the last decade. Educational materials by third parties tend to neglect the oil industry’s contribution to climate change, the study’s authors say.

“The oil industry often exerts what the authors call a “social power” over the classroom – particularly in oil-producing regions – with teachers fearful of backlash from parents and the community if they are perceived to be insufficiently pro-industry in their teaching,” is another highlight from the report. 

“The authors conclude that it is the oil and gas industry that exerts an undue influence over how climate issues are taught in our schools, promoting a type of environmental education that will ultimately leave students ill-prepared for the realities of climate change as it soft-pedals the scope and extent of changes required to adequately address this planetary-scale threat,” Enoch and Eaton wrote in the report.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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