Why is it Essential to Integrate Environmental Education into the School Curricula



17 April, 2024

Why is it Essential to Integrate Environmental Education into the School Curricula

Back in 2021, a survey conducted by Bath University highlighted that 60% of the respondents were worried, sad, helpless, angry and guilty about the current environmental situation. These respondents were children between the ages of 16 and 25 from 10 countries, India being one of them. Climate issues and environmental concerns have always been a hot topic for discussion. And all roads land to one long-term effective solution which is to cultivate a sense of responsibility towards our environment in children.

It is the young generation who is the torchbearer of change in our society. As Lester Brown once said that one way or another, the choice will be made by our generation, but will affect life on Earth for all generations to come. The choice we have to make here is to integrate environmental education into the school curriculum. The idea of having certain aspects of environmental education in the school curriculum was incorporated in the early 1930s in India. Later the Kothari Commission (1964-1966) highlighted the need to provide basic environmental education in schools and relate it to life needs.

We must capture the enthusiasm and creativity of young minds to bring about an impactful change in the environment. To enhance their participation, the curricular and extracurricular attempts to spread awareness of environmental education should also be made fun for the students.

You might be wondering why we need environmental education in school. EVS was one of those subjects which carried minimum weightage in academic scores. But it has become the need of the hour. So let’s see how.

What is Environmental Education?

If we go by the books, environmental education has many definitions. UNESCO defines it as a learning process that enhances our knowledge and creates awareness about the environment and challenges associated with it.

In other words, it is an organised effort to how the natural environment functions, how we can battle the challenges to protect it and how we can mend our actions for the sake of it.

Why Do We Need Environmental Education? 

  • Environmental education not only raises awareness about current environmental issues but also equips children with the critical thinking skills needed to address these concerns in the future, ensuring a safer and more sustainable world for all.

  • It is an effective way to train the children and make them responsible citizens. We can expect a better future ahead once they start thinking critically about climate issues.

  • It prepares students with appropriate skills, knowledge, behaviours and approaches to cope with environmental problems.

  • A school is the best place to create and implement solutions to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle.

  • Environmental education is not just about the environment. It also enhances students’ focus, cognitive abilities, and overall development. Its benefits extend beyond the classroom, making it particularly valuable for children with concentration issues.

  • For parents concerned about their child’s habit of not indulging in outdoor activities, environment education brings students outside to the real world. Be it plantation or cleanliness drives, children will engage in a broader range of activities thereby affecting their overall development.

How to Engage Students with Environmental Education? 

  • Connect With Real Issues: One of the effective ways to make environmental education more meaningful and enjoyable is to familiarise them with local issues. They will be able to understand the impact of such issues on their lives which leads to motivation and dedication to go further in the cause.

  • Combine With Other Subjects: Certain aspects of environmental education should be integrated with other subjects like science, language arts, social studies and others. This creates interdisciplinary and cross-curricular connections to understand ecological issues better.

  • Foster Collaboration: To increase student engagement, collaboration between students and other stakeholders is needed. This piques student’s interest and creates a supportive environment.

  • Create Eco-Clubs: Clubs and extracurricular activities at school are a great way to engage students and spread awareness of environmental concerns surrounding them. Students are more active in school clubs as it reflects well in their portfolio.

  • Use Technology to Enhance the Learning Experience: There are various online platforms which offer dynamic and interactive resources to help students enhance their knowledge. Virtual reality is such a way through which students can explore ecosystems and experience environmental changes in a lifelike manner.

  • Value Student’s Voice and Choice: Make them feel valued and heard. This will push them to find more innovative and creative ideas for bringing sustainability to life. Apart from boosting their confidence, this will enhance student involvement in environmental drives.

Education and the environment clubbed together have been firmly rooted in many educational programmes. It is necessary to prioritise it and integrate environmental education into school curricula to impart this responsibility from the beginning.

Wrapping Up

All modern and progressive definitions of education focus on the all-round development of a child. Environmental education is a vital aspect of individual intellectual development. Students must imbibe the elements of environmental education right from the beginning, which is why it is essential to upgrade the school curriculum as per the current demands. Many schools have already started to strengthen their efforts to instil the values and sense of responsibility towards our natural resources among students. An unwavering commitment to a sustainable future and integration of environmental education into the school curriculum will surely benefit us in the distant future in achieving our goal.

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