By Ms. Rasika Soman
Researcher in Vocational Education and Environment
The Covid pandemic having been hit and that too in different waves at different times, have left all of us speechless. That is when we realized that we have taken the environment for granted and all the materialistic wealth that we have owned till now is worthless. The developing countries especially India has been badly hit by the pandemic and it is here to stay for long. The pictures of burning pyres, polluted air and dead bodies flowing way in the rivers like the Ganges and Yamuna have made me think about what are we doing for our environment? Are we here to see a degraded environment with no ‘green’ aspect whatsoever. Environmental Education has always been ignored in India whether it is in urban areas or in rural areas. It is the time that we really think about educating our future, our children in general and youth in particular about the importance of preserving the environment so as to create sustainable futures. We can do this in many ways but one of the most important and best-sought ways would be to include environmental education in our pedagogy, thus making it more relevant and need-based to the needs of the current hour. All the developing, as well as underdeveloped countries, can adopt the following points in order to impart environmental education and save our planet from the treacheries of human and natural calamities.
- Environmental Education in the Early Childhood- We cannot teach a person about the environment just when a natural calamity strikes or just when we want him or her to learn that. Environmental education has to be imbibed in the minds of the children from childhood itself. It is for this reason that when a child is a very school and when he goes to a playschool. It is very important to add in the curriculum the words such as ‘plants’, ‘environment’, ‘trees’ and the children can be taught about the environment and what the environment is all about through in-basket exercises, activities and group play. Till the time the children are not taught about the importance of education from the early years, they would not know what the environment is all about and how should we conserve it. Therefore, it is very important at the outset to teach the children about the environment from childhood itself.
- Grading of the environmental subjects at the High School Level – It is very important to change the grading system and give more weightage to the grades at the high school level for the environmental subjects. If grades are given importance especially for the subject of environmental education then the students will learn the subjects faster and they will take a keen interest to learn the subject. Generally, subjects such as Mathematics and Science are given more importance than other subjects, especially in the developing countries. This has to be changed and a holistic approach to education has to be taken into consideration which will ensure that the importance of the environment is known by the high school graduates.
- Teaching environmental education through activities and workshops in schools and colleges- It is pointless to assume that all the children in the school would be interested in learning about the environment. The subject of environmental education would be interesting for some and boring for others. Therefore, it is of utmost significance to make this subject interesting by innovating new methods to teach, learn and understand what environmental education is all about. Efforts need to be made by academicians, curriculum designers, industry partners and educational policymakers to add more learning-based creative patterns to the subject.
- Graduate Degrees in Environment- If we want our future students to learn more about the environment and to be aware of the environmental impact on our lives, it is of utmost importance to design degrees in an environment in formal and informal education. In India, though there are degrees in environment education at the bachelor's level, there are not enough programs at the postgraduate and doctorate level regarding the environment. Therefore, it is essential that there should be formal degrees in the environment so that future students can contribute to preserving the environment.
We hope that if the points above are implemented then our economy would be more 'green as well as clean' !!