Why protest at the School Strike 4 Climate rally? A high school student explains…

EducationDaily asked a teenage protestor at today's School Strike 4 Climate why sharing their worries about climate change should be heard.


For five years, school students have been putting down their pencils (and laptops) during school hours and taking to the streets.

Their goal has been to pressure state and federal Australian governments to take tangible climate action.

One school striker joining today’s 17 November national School Strike 4 Climate protest is Nirvana Talukder, a senior student at Sydney Girls’ High School. 

She told EducationDaily that, while striking students recognise the value and importance of their education, they must first secure a safe future to apply it.

“What we believe is not okay is the government’s ongoing complicity in what the UN Secretary-General refers to as ‘the climate breakdown’,” she says.

“By continuing to approve new coal, oil, and gas projects and subsidising the fossil fuel industry with billions of dollars of public money, the Labour government has endangered the futures and livelihoods of today’s youth. As students who might not yet have the power to vote, our power lies in taking to the streets and sending a strong message to our leaders — that we are hearing and seeing everything they do, and we will remember.”

Learning valuable lessons outside the classroom

The estimated 50,000 students expected to hit the streets across Australia today, Ms Talukder says, are doing so with the hope of encouraging the country’s leaders to “shift the power away from fossil fuels and away from government leaders who have chosen the side of profit over the people and the planet”.

One of the major debates raging around the students’ ‘right to protest’ in these recurring climate strikes is whether it is appropriate for the students to be missing class, with many conservative commentators – and politicians – telling media that the best place for children is in the classroom.

But Ms Talukder believes there is pedagogical value to striking, calling it a “consequential learning experience. 

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“Within the climate justice movement and in our strikes, we ensure that our action is centred around the stories and lived experiences of individuals and communities who have been hit first-hand by this crisis, the stories of First Nations activists from across the continent, the stories of rural and regional communities impacted by the crisis, the stories of students from all across the country,” she told EducationDaily.

“Through amplifying these voices, we, as students, gain an insight and understanding into the collective strength and resilience of those at the forefront of this fight for climate justice and we learn how to be an open community built upon collective empowerment and advocating for a safe, liveable future for us all.”

Teaching lessons to leaders

The theme for this latest School Strike 4 Climate rally is ‘Teach-In for Tanya’. The students say it is actually them who has to do the teaching today.

“[We will be teaching] Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, a lesson on climate change and its adverse impacts on communities across the country,” Ms Talukder told EducationDaily.

“The Labor government has continually chosen to be complicit in funding and catalysing a crisis that has been responsible for taking lives, exploiting Indigenous land and hindering people’s access to shelter, education, food and sanitation,” she says.

“That is why we are taking a day to amplify the voices of resilient intersectional climate justice organisers and activists to educate ourselves and Tanya Plibersek on the severity of this crisis.”

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