Environmental education is now being seen as an instrument and a process that enables participation and learning by people of all ages, based on two-way communication rather than the old paradigm of a one-way flow of information, from teachers to pupils. The content and substance of environmental education is also undergoing review and change. Reorienting education as a whole towards sustainability involves the various levels of formal, non-formal and informal education at all levels of society.
Environmental education (EE) connects us to the world around us, teaching us about both natural and built environments. EE raises awareness of issues impacting the environment upon which we all depend, as well as actions we can take to improve and sustain it. Whether we bring nature into the classroom, take students outside to learn, or find impromptu teachable moments on a nature walk with our families, EE has many benefits for youth, educators, schools, and communities.
What Is Environmental Education
Environmental education is “a lifelong learning process that leads to an informed and involved citizenry having the creative problem-solving skills, scientific and social literacy, ethical awareness and sensitivity for the relationship between humans and the environment, and commitment to engage in responsible individual and cooperative actions.
Benefits of Environmental Education
Imagination and Enthusiasm Are Heightened
EE is hands-on, interactive learning that sparks the imagination and unlocks creativity. When EE is integrated into the curriculum, students are more enthusiastic and engaged in learning, which raises student achievement in core academic areas.
Learning Transcends the Classroom
Not only does EE offer opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom, it enables students to make connections and apply their learning in the real world. EE helps learners see the interconnectedness of social, ecological, economic, cultural, and political issues.
Critical and creative thinking skills are enhanced
EE encourages students to research, investigate how and why things happen, and make their own decisions about complex environmental issues. By developing and enhancing critical and creative thinking skills, EE helps foster a new generation of informed consumers, workers, as well as policy or decision makers.
Tolerance and understanding are supported
EE encourages students to investigate varying sides of issues to understand the full picture. It promotes tolerance of different points of view and different cultures.
Constraint to Environmental Education
There are many constraints and barriers to the widespread adoption and practice of environmental education in the region. In the formal education sector, class sizes are often large and teachers lack resources and experience in interactive pupil-centred teaching strategies. School curricula are also dominated by competitive academic curricula which prioritizes end–of-course examinations and discourages the development of locally and personally relevant intellectual skills. Outside the formal education sector, environmental education is often poorly organized and resourced. Another common constraint is the lack of clear integration of environmental education objectives and programmes with national education and environmental policies. In some countries, the absence of national policies or guidelines for environmental education has resulted in a lack of coherent strategies and long term planning. Even in those countries which do have such policies.