Published: 01st November 2021
COP26: School principals raise concerns over environmental education in schools. What are the kids not learning?
The issue being resonated is that environmental issues seldom get traction beyond mere posters on Earth and Environment days in a year
School principals and educationists across the country are wanting to be heard on changing the way environmental education is being offered in schools at the moment. This comes in the backdrop of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) being hosted by the UK beginning on Sunday. Representatives of over 190 countries are expected to participate in the meeting that will go on till November 12.
The issue raised by the school personnel is that education on the environment is limited to slogans and poster making on calendar events like Earth Day and Environment Day. The demand is for a more hands-on approach to education in order to prepare them for the future.
Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal, DPS-RNE Ghaziabad told PTI, "The need of the hour is to sensitise the students about climate threats and change. Environmental education should be much more than lighthearted workshops being organised on special days like Earth Day or Environment Day. Students being the future decision makers, need to be made responsible denizens to keep a watch on their daily practices and commitments. Something as simple as saying ‘no’ to plastic, and carrying a paper or jute bag for shopping can significantly impact our environment positively."
According to Seema Kaur, Principal, Pacific World School, the slogans of "Save Environment" and "Save Trees" resonate only for a day at times. “The hue and cry about saving the planet are audible all around but to no avail. Children are the makers of this planet, hence from the nascent stage only, schools must include environment awareness programmes in the curriculum focusing on practical knowledge,” she said.
Sangeeta Hajela, Principal, DPS Indirapuram, believes environmental education must be incorporated in Indian schools, in all earnestness, and in a definitive manner, as environmental degradation is no more a gradual transformation. “The process of school education remains incomplete without setting up an example for students, therefore it is necessary to change the course of environmental awareness from being subjective to practical,” she said. “Environment consciousness should not be a day-long or a week-long pen and paper education but a way of life, practised every single day, leading to habit formation,” she added.
According to Divya Jain, Founder and Director, The Class of One, an online-only school, the majority of environmental degradation arising from a lack of education. “We have integrated the SDG projects along with the primary curriculum to sensitise kids to grow up to lead a sustainable and eco-friendly life. As India is a diverse country and every location here needs a different kind of solution, all our projects are location-specific and help kids to understand their location better and find a solution for it. There’s a compulsory environment class in the curriculum from the primary level onwards. A monthly activity is planned with parents as accomplices,” she said.