Making #GenerationRestoration conscious about environment

There is a dire need to raise environmental consciousness and sustainable practices for a greener and restored land through education. For that, schools can play an important role in shaping young minds, right from early childhood education.
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 01:03 IST
Last Updated : 04 June 2024, 01:03 IST

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The Bengaluru water crisis had everyone talking. From people leaving the city to residents crowding malls to get their share of water, the reality is hitting us hard.

According to the National Center for Environment Information, January–April global surface temperature was warmest in the 175-year record at 1.34°C, with a 61% possibility of 2024 being the warmest year recorded.

We cannot wait for an opportune time to start protecting, preserving and nurturing environment. It has to start now. The first place to begin is schools. Catch them young and train them to respect nature.

This calls for a dire need to raise environmental consciousness and sustainable practices for a greener and restored land through education. For that, schools can play an important role in shaping young minds, right from early childhood education.

World Environment Day is observed on June 5, under different themes. As deforestation’s consequences for climate and ecosystems arise, this year’s theme focuses on ‘Land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience’.

A major factor of climate change, deforestation can lead to desertification. It also worsens phenomena such as El Niño which in turn cause severe droughts in various regions.

With 25% of the land being desertified and 32% of the land being under degradation, the need to ensure sustainable land management supported by environmentally conscious minds is evident in India.

Being environmentally conscious is the willingness to become aware of environmental problems, and to support efforts to solve them. To inculcate this in young minds from an early age, education plays an important role.

NEP and environmental education

The New Education Policy (NEP 2020 has laid a vision and framework to incorporate environmental education into the curriculum, which can be a vital investment in the collective future.

Through teacher training, and integrating environmental education with the core subjects, students can ignite environmental curiosity, and a sense of personal duty and care towards it. NEP further promotes experiential learning which allows students to learn through hands-on experiences within the ecosystem. It also mentions community participation, thus engaging students with local communities, and teaching a need for responsibility and collective action.

The school’s role

Teaching environmental consciousness from an early age rather than adding it as a subject in later classes will greatly impact students’ behaviour. School’s influence on a child’s life extends beyond academic learning. It is like a second home to them which guides them about life values, attitudes, and behaviors. Schools can:

Encourage students for hands-on activities like picking up litter, keeping the classrooms clean, and planting trees on birthdays.

Start a kitchen garden in school, and teach students to water those plants using leftover water from their water bottles.

Organise upcycling workshops, donation drives, and best-out-of-waste competitions to promote sustainability and nurture creativity.

Promote sustainable practices like carpool activities for parents to reduce emissions, and walking for short distances.

Teach the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to students through everyday practice in the canteen, and classroom.

Parents also play an important role in teaching environmental education at home as simple as composting, conserving water, using clay pots instead of fridges, and reducing waste.

Environment education helps students develop problem-solving abilities and critical thinking by observing their surroundings, asking questions, and seeking solutions to environmental concerns. This increases environmental awareness, thus exacerbating empathy and civic responsibility.

The world will raise the slogan, “Our land, our future. We are #GenerationRestoration” on June 5. To make it a reality, it is important to make youngsters conscious about environment. Schools can be the medium through which students see environmental challenges as personal matters that can change their perception. The positive ripple effects of such education will extend well beyond the classroom, training torchbearers for a more sustainable future.

(The author is the principal of a Mumbai-based ICSE school)

Published 04 June 2024, 01:03 IST

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