Environmental Education: Component Of Sustainable Development
The ultimate aim and critical role of education is shaping human behaviour. It is our prime duty to take care of the well-being of the earth. The present day society needs to formulate an innovative Educational Policy aimed to evolve a ‘Complete Man’ with three major goals; Academic Excellence, Moral and Spiritual Values and Social Sensibilities.
Responsible behaviour is the need of the hour; and ecological sciences are the door to sustainable development. We have to be cautious of our limited resources that we consume without thinking about the future. Educating our children from early childhood and inculcating good values and habits may lay strong foundations and lead us on to a path of sustainable development.
Consciousness is awareness. Environmental awareness is to understand the fragility of our environment and the importance of its protection. One needs to be aware of the duties and responsibilities, in order to deal effectively and conserve the environment. The primary goals of Environmental education are to deepen the students’ engagement with issues in environment and science and take sensitive actions to improve the quality of life.
Environmental education can be traced to outdoor education, and its history is intimately intertwined with that of outdoor and experiential education. The roots of environmental education can also be traced to recreational camping, which began to be practiced during the period 1861–1880, the nature study movement. According to Carlson (2000), the beginning of outdoor education as a ‘learning method’ began in 1930. Environmental education took an important seat in science curricula and was endowed with a concrete form as a discipline in the late 1960s. The main aim of this was to develop environmentally literate citizens who have the knowledge and skills to take responsible action with regard to the natural environment. The first international conferences on environmental education were held in the 1970s.
The United Nations played an instrumental role in developing the basic premises and guiding principles for environmental education curriculum development.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AND INSPIRATION Educating adolescents about the impact they have on their environment is necessary for nurturing lifelong environmental stewardship. In the last twenty years, environmental education has been gaining a stronger foothold in classrooms across the globe. The purpose of environmental education is to teach students how to take responsible decisions, using critical thinking in order to take action to maintain or improve our environment. Educators should encourage even small steps toward environmental conservation, as they are the building blocks to lifetime environmental conservation action. Accordingly, the primary goal of environmental education is to instil knowledge that leads to pro-environmental actions and behaviours in individuals, groups and society. Engaging the learners in hands on activities, actionable learning has a positive effect on the outcome of environmental education.
One idea which our students shared a few years ago, regarding ‘Recycling’ of resources was to make an ATM machine. It is a reality now and has taken a new shape. People can put plastic bottles in it and get some money out of it. Fig 1.
In this way people are motivated and we can save our environment from profusion of plastic. It’s very unfortunate that we have to buy drinking water today. Two decades ago, people used to drink ground water available without any fear of micro bacterial diseases. But purification industry of water and now air too has grown tremendously making huge profits, due to human greed and irresponsible behaviour towards invaluable resources provided by nature.
Students of my school also make hot compost using dry leaves collected from the campus and biodegradable waste. In this project all teachers, parents and children are involved. This manure is then used to maintain the school garden, thus inculcating a sense of belongingness in all stakeholders. Students also did an interdisciplinary Bicycle project to promote healthy habits in citizens. The students of Class VII researched and collected data on various aspects of cycling and enjoyed this learning process. Our institute set an example of learning and work experience ranging over the entire spectrum of both, the world of education and the world of work. Students are motivated by positive changes that help our environment such as recycling. Inquiry style learning is one way to incorporate positive action. Students learn by observing, asking questions, critical thinking and problem solving.
TECHNOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT Technology plays an important role in sustainable development. In recent years we have seen much innovation in the field of Robotics; Drone delivery to various places and help in disasters; use of cutting edge science in green buildings; smart options in Green building technology and thus saving energy.
CRRI (Central Road Research Institute) Project: Plastic has taken a hot seat in our lives and has become an integral part, replacing other materials. It is durable, lightweight, and does not decompose. Hence, it is a threat to the environment. Prof R. Vasudevan, Professor of Chemistry at Madurai developed a technology for plastic waste disposal. In 1990s a new technology was evolved, which mixes plastic asphalt and forms a compound called polymerized bitumen. Government made it mandatory for all road developers to use waste plastic, along with bituminous mixes for road construction. This type of road construction process is extremely eco-friendly, with no toxic gases being released. When used in roads, it withstands monsoons and wear and tear. More than 1,200 kilometres of roads have been built using 3,500 tons of plastic waste and offering greener way to travel in India.
Eco friendly road for green future and sustainable development is the core of environmental technologies and is used in monitoring of environmental issues and conservation of energy; be it use of solar energy, photovoltaics, sewage treatment, hybrid electric vehicles and many more.
There is a dynamic relation between education, learning, environment and sustainability issues. Quality education system provides a balanced view of life with material pursuits being subsumed by higher intellectual and spiritual goals. Environment education is a unique approach and is characterized by its distinctive flavour. We should find different ways to improve education in order to enhance environmental and sustainability goals. Education, communication, and public awareness are essential elements in improving the quality of life of all people and their environment. Environmental consciousness is an ideology that evokes the responsibility of humans to respect, protect and preserve the natural resources. It leads to the planet’s longevity as a healthy place for humanity’s continued evolution. We can accelerate exemplary growth, duly propelled by the twin objectives of value education and consciousness. We can transit from knowledge society to a wisdom society surcharged by the spirit of ultimate consciousness.
 Federal Register. (1996). Definition of environmental education. December 10, p. 65106.
 Wells, N. M., & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathways from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children Youth and Environments, 16(1), 1-24.
 Stevenson, K. T., Peterson, M. N., Bondell, H. D., Mertig, A. G., & Moore, S. E. (2013). Environmental, institutional, and demographic predictors of environmental literacy among middle school children. Plods ONE, 8(3), 1-11. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059519
 Short, P. C. (2010). Responsible environmental action: its role and status in environmental education and environmental quality.
Arti Prasad has a post-graduate degree in Physics with a B.Ed and M.Phil. She has 21 years of experience in the teaching domain. She is an alumnus of DEI (Dayalbagh Educational Institute), which is celebrating 100 years in the service of education. She started her teaching career as a Physics teacher in DPS Vasant Kunj. Presently she is the Principal of Soami Nagar Model School, in Soami Nagar, New Delhi. SNMS fosters academic excellence along with physical, cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual education with scientific methodology and transforms children into good citizens by fostering courage, character and commitment.
She is an educationist and academician by choice and has a strong passion for teaching and serving the society. She has conducted various workshops for teachers and students in different areas related to Curriculum (development & designing, planning) and CCE. She has been an excellent sports person and has participated in Table tennis, Volleyball, Shot-put at the regional and national level.