Environment is degrading at a much faster pace than our imagination. Most of this mess is caused by human activities. The damage is both at global and regional level. Depletion of ozone layer and increase in the emission of greenhouse gas are the examples of the damage at global level whereas groundwater pollution, soil erosion are some of the regional consequences of human activities and their impact on environment.
Therefore whatsoever wrong has been done by us must be rectified by us only. To protect and manage environment it is imperative to have a sound environmental education. It is a way to teach people and societies on how to use the present and future resources optimally. Through environmental education they can gain knowledge to handle the fundamental issues leading to local pollution.
Environment is defined comprehensively to include all relationships between humans and all that impact upon them, and all that they impact (Caldwell L K 1993).
What is Environmental Education (EE)?
The way natural environment works and how humans should behave to manage ecosystem to sustain environment is part of the environmental education. It imparts the required skills and expertise to handle the associated challenges. The main focus of the study is to impart knowledge, create awareness, inculcate an attitude of concern and provide necessary skill to handle the environment and environmental challenges.
EE gained importance at global level after the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment, organized by UNESCO in 1972. Soon after this Conference, the UNESCO launched the International Environmental Education Programme (IEEP).
Why Environmental Education is necessary ?
Every country is putting efforts to integrate environmental concerns with education. According to these countries, EE should not only be a part of the education system but also the political system where actions, policies and plans can be formulated and executed at national level.
Environmental education must be able to assess environmental situation and the conditions leading to the damage of the environment. EE must target the routine and how simple changes in a daily life can make a huge difference to the environment.
Protecting environment is the responsibility of everyone, hence environmental education cannot be confined to one group or society. Every individual must be prepared for saving the environment. It must be a continuous and a lifelong process. Above that environmental education must be practical so that teachings can be implemented directly.
Conserving nature and environment will be much easier if children are taught about depleting resources, environmental pollution, land sliding and degradation and extinction of plants and animals. Education is a sort of investment that turns into a valuable asset over a period of time.
Universities in India focus on teaching, research and training. In more than 20 Universities, different colleges and institutes courses in Environmental Engineering, Conservation and Management, Environmental Health and Social Sciences are taught.
To promote environmental awareness across the Nation, the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) was established in August 1984 with a support from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. One of the tasks of the CEE is to put efforts to give due recognition to the role of environmental education. The CEE runs many Educational Programms in this regard.
Because of the societal shifts, today’s children are busy playing indoor games and electronic gadgets. They spend most of their time in watching Television, listening to music, playing video games or surfing Internet or using Computer. They have no time to travel around and to explore the natural world around them. This not only impacts the health of children but also detach them from their surroundings and nature. They are grown up into adults who are least bothered about conserving nature. Raising an environmentally educated generation is also necessary because of the depleting of natural resources.
Students must be encouraged to understand their surroundings and a framework for action plan must be formulated. EE is the need of the day. It must encourage social participation. Hence integrating environment education into a curriculum is a wise option to connect students with the nature right from their childhood.