The State Education machinery needs to give environmental education in schools a higher priority. I earnestly hope that the process which begun almost a decade ago has not been forgotten as Goa was one of the first few states to implement the policy of environment education as a subject. In fact, the State Education Board had also infused Environment Education in other subjects in the syllabus so as to help teachers impart local knowledge including local biodiversity, neighborhood environmental issues and activities related to garbage disposal and nature conservation. Being part of a committee then, co coordinated by Center for Environment Education, Goa State I remember the zeal and motivation then of many officers and teachers who gave time and efforts to shape and put together a comprehensive action plan as well as curriculum for environment education. In fact Teachers Training Workshops, organized by various schools and institutions were held and there was a marked increase in grassroots interest especially in the teaching community about the subject. Projects based on the environment, seminars and workshops and more importantly field trips and class room practical sessions were the backbone of this ‘movement’ that had helped create a resource pool of green teachers and environmentally conscious students too.
Today, I personally feel that the momentum has been lost somewhere and it is a matter of concern. It is a difficult job convincing a Government. I know. But it is an even more difficult job to ignore the fact that a Government implemented policy-and that too a good one at that has lost its impetus.
We all know by now that Environment studies have to be inter disciplinary and a part of our school and high school curriculum. It is an earnest need of the hour. It is not just a subject, mind you, but the kind of subject, in fact that would help address crucial issues of the state to our future generations. Garbage disposal and composting, use of renewable energy, sustainable use of natural resources, conservation of natural habitats are all matters of concern for us in Goa and our student community needs to be aware of them too.
While organizations like the WWF Goa State office and the Center for Environment Education are doing their bit, it is necessary for the Department for Education as well as the Department for Science, Technology and Environment to review the state of Environment education in Goa. Easier said than done, it would also mean identifying key resource persons and implementing agencies for revival and reshaping perhaps of earlier policies that were implemented a about a decade ago. Support from individual resource persons, experienced environment education trainers and institutions is bound to follow as it’s a national cause and one that is dear to every nature lovers heart. We need to strengthen the foundations of our society of tomorrow, with regards to respect for the environment and its components. This will only be possible if the children of today are sensitized to issues that surface around them on a daily basis in school as well as in their neighborhood.
The fact that our students need to know local environment issues and concerns, age old traditions related to conservation like Sacred Groves, or for that matter the festival of “Mange Thapne” and many such nuggets of Goan culture related to nature is a long cherished vision that many of us who have seen Goa’s rich cultural and ecological tapestry harbor. The simple truth that appreciation for nature and its life forms can only be extended through our formal and informal education system needs to be understood and accepted by us all.
It is a sincere appeal to our State Education Minister as well our Board of Education to bring life to this aspect of education in our school curriculum. Besides infusing green facts of Goa’s ecology and wildlife, culture and urban challenges of garbage management, practical projects and site visits for the student community to showcase our state in its true essence is necessary. This will go a long way in ensuring that our future generation is aware of our state’s natural resources as ecological systems. I hope the zeal of all those who helped formulate the green curriculum years ago is alive today and we will see a revival of a focused environment education in school system policy soon. Keep the faith.