Environmental Education; Ensuring a Sound World for Future Generations - Ecology

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Environmental protection training for school teachers conducted by All Afghan Women Union (AAWU), 2010, Kabul

By: Nazanin Shafahi
Source: Daily 8 a.m, October 27, 2010
Translated by: Jawed Nader

Awareness and education is undoubtedly an essential pillar of our lives. Every human being needs care and education right from his/her birth and acquaintance with outer world.

No one is born as an aware human being, nor is anyone a scholar, teacher, doctor or scientist by birth. Instead, it is the education s/he receives and the effort s/he makes that determines his/her status. Family is the foremost institution a child steps in and receives education. Likewise, parents and family members are the first people a child imitates. S/he saves in her/his memory what s/he hears or sees. In fact, a child learns the first lessons of life from her/his family and surroundings. Therefore, it is the parents that determine what and how to educate their children on their day-to-day activities so that issues that appear trivial at the beginning should not create problems in future.

Environment protection is one those issues that require education and discussion. Perhaps, a lot of parents do not consider environment issues significant enough to be taught because they think that the children themselves might know about it once they are grown-up. Or, they might think that it is the responsibility of schools and teachers to educate the children on these issues.

Unfortunately considering our duties other people’s responsibilities, obstruct our efforts to accomplish what we deserve or makes our accomplishment very late. If, like all developed nations, we teach important and essential issues to our children right from beginning, we will face fewer problems in future. Children do not easily forget what they have learnt in childhood and apply it in their adulthood years. Nonetheless, as the old proverb says “The fish is always fresh when caught”, even if we start now, we will eventually succeed.

Ghulam Ali Yaqoobi, NEPA’s Head of Research and Policy Department says, “In environment protection issues the most recurring challenge is public awareness and education.” Countries that are considered successful in this regard provide education to their citizens from early schooling to high education. Thus, the environment issues are not unknown to them and they have adequate information about the current and future status of environment concerns.

Unless the respect to environment is inculcated through education, the regulations and taxes cannot prove to be effectual. In some countries, the consumers do not purchase clothes that are made of extinctive/endangered animals in order to contribute in stopping the hunt and trade of such animals. In those countries citizens are cautious about wastes kept in open air, sanitation, tree cutting, usage of fertilizers, and the safety of rivers and flowing water. They have a considerable number of environmentalists who convene events in order to raise the awareness of ordinary public regarding environment.    

In fact, they recognize that governments may not be able to fulfill its obligations regarding the environment. Therefore, they involve in protecting the environment themselves. Such a high level of environment-sensitivity has not been materialized overnight, but it is the result of years of awareness raising in the grassroots level and education specially to children and adolescents.    

Yaqoobi adds, “Family is the first institution and has an important role, and so have the peer groups and social entities. Unfortunately, these issues have not been deemed important in the past. It has just recently been discussed in the higher levels and the officialdom is talking about it now. I think if the families and schools start educating {the children}, we can be hopeful about a cleaner environment.”

In order to make environment-sensitive behaviour part of people’s belief, such education should be provided in the early childhood. Children are interested and have a good skill in drawing and painting. Therefore it is good to start this education by giving examples related to it. We should teach them how the pencils and papers used for drawing is made and how many trees are cut to make them. This way, they will do more to stop using pencils and papers irresponsibly.

We should teach them how to recycle those materials. Meanwhile, we should teach them practically how to collect wastes and separate the dry and wet waste. We should seek their help when we do these things ourselves. They will copy our behavior and this could become their habit. As result, they will pay more attention not to throw wastes around in playgrounds and harm the nature.

Problems such as traffic in big cities, acute pollution, overindulgence in consuming petrol and other fuel, deforestation and water pollution exist not merely due to weak regulations, but lack of education and behavioral lessons in the early childhood. Therefore, we should start to inculcate proper environmental education in children’s mind to guide their behaviour. Raising the awareness of general public about the importance of environment and its protection requires adequate time and good programming so that it becomes part of their behavior.

The environmental problems caused by human beings cannot be solved just through using technology. We require behavioural modification too. Therefore, the key to mitigating environmental crisis is to educate and reform the manners of human beings regarding its surroundings.

Teachers and Schools’ Roles in Environment Protection

By: Nazanin Shafahi
Source: Daily 8 a.m, August 11, 2010
Translated by: Jawed Nader

God has created human beings the best of all creatures so they strive not just in the development of earth but to use it wisely in order for future generations to equally benefit from God’s gifts. Therefore, it is important for human beings to treat the environment with utmost care and raise the awareness of those who do not know. Perhaps, one of the best ways to combat environmental pollution and its negative impacts is through cultural and awareness-raising initiatives. 

Miss Nafeesa, one of Kabul female teachers, expressed her opinion about this matter, “The participation of teachers is vital in raising general public’s awareness about the ill effects of environmental pollution. Schools have the responsibility to raise the knowledge level of students on all issues and therefore they should play their critical role in environmental issues too.”

She further explained that, “Unfortunately at the moment the general people do not know about ecological issues and the way it can be supported. This makes them indifferent towards the environment. But if we manage to raise their awareness, they will pay more attention. I consider school and teachers the source of dissemination of social awareness. They should play their rightful role in environmental issues too.”

In addition, Nafeesa explained that schools can have a positive impact in raising the awareness of children and general public through two approaches. She said, “Environmental studies should be embedded in school curricula. Besides that, teachers should educate their students personally on ways to keep the environment clean and to prevent pollution in houses, schools, roads and communities. If this is done, the students and the younger generation will be familiarized with environmental issues.”

Miss Nafeesa rightly pointed out the importance and roles of schools and teachers in environmental issues. However, the problem that lingers is that these two approaches are not followed up and taken seriously. The school curricula do not adequately address environmental issues and neither do teachers pay heed. As a result, students either know nothing or very little about environmental issues.

For reading the article in Dari version please click the link: http://www.8am.af/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13197:1389-04-23-17-49-48&catid=101:1388-12-19-18-57-21&Itemid=561