Pune, March 2017 : In collaboration with Earth Day Network, TERRE Policy Centre organized a round table discussion on the topic Environmental Literacy on 4th April, 2017. TERRE organized this discussion to have expert's advises on the same topic, on which, they are going to publish a 'White Paper'.
The members from different fields such as Education, Industry and Media etc. were gathered to sum up their views on environmental education and literacy in India. The discussion included what is the current situation of environmental education and policies regarding the same, what are the future actions are to be taken for Environment Literacy even from grass root levels up to the highest levels.
Mrs. Yogita Apte from Persistent Foundations expressed that environmental education should be there in our regular practices. According to her experience, the teacher training programs are quite less interesting to attend. Also those programs can be made more attractive by introducing interesting projects where all the teachers can input innovative ideas and also they can have an enthusiastic participation.
'It is not a separate subject to be taught' said Annie Gregory form CEE. She further explained how the capacity building of the teachers is important rather than providing students with the text book content.
Dhaval Joshi, Program Officer at ‘Aqua dam’ put the question as, ‘are the teachers able to comprehend all the environmental conceptual!’ He further added that many times the teacher who is available from the workload is given the environment subject to teach the students. Though he doesn’t have the expert knowledge from environment, he can relate his special subject to environment to teach the students. Because Environment is such a subject which can be relate to the other subjects.
Swapnil Girade stated that there are some new policies coming up with new techniques and practices involved. In most of the region, environment is considered as unnecessary subject. This concept has to be changed. Also instead of the theoretical projects teachers should assign their students with the practical projects where they will understand the basic concepts of the environment. For example, preparing the actual model of solar panel or wind-mill, such practical projects should be undertaken.
Chaitrali Chandorkar from Maharashtra Times introduced a very interesting practice which she saw at one school. In that school, the students used to maintain the register for all their activities regarding environment. Also she said that if we can introduce new interesting ideas to the students and teachers, they might show more interest in applying those practices. Also she suggested that whether the schools from different boards (CBSE, ICSE and Maharashtra Board) can have collaboration and come up with some easy-to-do projects, then all the other schools may follow them.
Mr. Haji Zakir has worked with many convent schools from Pune. He suggested if we can put monthly camps for students, in which we can educate them regarding environment, then the students may find it interesting. Students will always prefer this option than submitting long paged projects.
A very interesting concept was shared by Dr, Vartak, where he explained that these messages and awareness can be created through hobbies where in the stamps collection or coins collection method can be involved. As our country focuses on stamps and coins which have political figures or historic personalities it is a interesting idea to replace them by nature and conservation pictures.
From the all discussion, Dr. Vinitaa Apte, President, TERRE Policy Centre asked whether we can ask for the policy to be made, where the big institutes for education can contribute some percentage of their corpus specifically to the environment education only.
To conclude the discussion we agreed on certain points. Following are the conclusion that made from the discussion:
1. We need to set a programme to train the trainers so that the teachers will also be equally enthusiastic to share and teach the knowledge and not treat it as only scoring the subject and children will as well change their approach towards the subject.
2. We must create more of practical classes and projects rather than keeping a textual knowledge and upto submission level.
3. The idea of replacing the stamp pictures or coin pictures into nature or endangered species giving some information will help children learn faster and with interest and will keep hobbies and their curiosity binded.