Environmental education in schools and any kind of educational institutions have a large impact on increasing the behavioural concerns toward the environment and thus can be the required action to turn the tide towards more actions to fight the climate change. An education that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in solving them, and finally take the necessary action to improve the environment is what can revolutionise the education system in schools, especially in India and other developing nations. Initially, environmental education will need to focus on the school going children to take actions in aspects of energy use, water use, recycling, construction materials used, transportation to and fro and also stationary used. With many optimistic about environmental education being a major game changer to prevent climate change, this paper will explore the history of environmental education and its objectives while also highlighting the models followed in Finland and how much it has been successful by citing case studies of Finland. This paper also summarises a survey conducted for a sample of teachers who put forward their views about a cognitive and holistic approach towards environmental education. The paper concludes by enlisting how education on zero waste lifestyles and sustainability can lead the new generation to a more environmentally conserved and secure future.
The world is a place full of innumerable possibilities and infinities. As the world progresses forward to more hi-fi technologies, there seems to be a disregard to the harms that are being inflicted on the environment in this pursuit of development. In this context, the Sustainable Development Goals have become priorities until 2030 and must be worked on through numerous initiatives, one of which is environmental education. Environmental education is a type of holistic process of learning of how the environment functions and to develop a familiarity with the surroundings which will help to secure learnings, abilities, values and also the passion to act on environmental issues.
According to UNESCO,
“Environmental education is a way of implementing the goals of environmental protection. It is not a separate branch of science but the lifelong interdisciplinary field of study.”
It is a study of the relationships and interdependence between natural and human systems in order to have an in-depth of the world and to know how to take care of it properly so that it can be a better place. Amidst the numerous global problems that the environment is facing and its impact on humans, it is needed that environmental educators prepare students to become critical thinkers, informed decision makers and able communicators. Environmental education will help to achieve environmental literacy which will further help to develop positive attitudes about the environment and develop a sense of empowerment. However, the environmental literacy also depends on the commitment and the motivation that a person develops over the course of attaining environmental education. The literacy will help to foster curiosity and enthusiasm and encourage them to explore and engage in the direct discovery of the world around them.
In order to impart environmental education, the education system needs to go through some major changes and has to focus on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The school systems have to integrate the practical learnings into its curriculum and help the students to connect with the environment and develop the necessary skills to conserve and protect it.
The Aim of Environmental Education (EE):
The Tbilisi Declaration of 1977 (UNESCO in collaboration with UNEP) states that
“A basic aim of environmental education is to succeed in making individuals and communities understand the complex nature of the natural and the built environments resulting from the interaction of their biological, physical, social, economic, and cultural aspects, and acquire the ~knowledge, values, attitudes, and practical skills to participate in a responsible and effective way in anticipating and solving environmental problems, and in the management of the quality of the environment.”
The aim of environmental education is to provide more than just environmental information. At the grass-root level, the aim is to make individuals understand the complex nature of environments and to acquire the knowledge, values and attitudes and skills to participate responsibly in solving social problems.
- H. Meadows had listed out a few key concepts which are crucial to environmental education. The concepts are food for thought, levels of being, complex systems, population growth and carrying capacity, ecologically sustainable development, socially sustainable development, knowledge, uncertainty, and sacredness. Thus, environmental education aims to educate the students on the above key concepts. It also aims form responsible individual and groups who are ready to take actions on the pertinent issues that the world faces.
It also involves providing information about specific environmental concerns or problems to the general public instead of specific group, religion or community. This helps to involve students in different data-gathering techniques that help them to discuss, analyze, predict and interpret data about environmental issues.
The world has become a global village where there is economic, social, political and ecological interdependence and thus the decisions and activities of the any country and have international repercussions. So, environmental education aims to develop a sense of responsibility and solidarity among the countries and the regions in order to lay the foundation for a new international order which may help to guarantee the conservation and preservation of the environment.