The Role Of Education As A Tool For Environmental Conservation

Nature has a mechanism to counter pollution but the human race has outpaced this natural process. The need of the hour is to augment this natural restoration process through focussed intervention.

Environment degradation is a reality which cannot be negated. The rapid increase in pollution of every imaginable form has resulted in this situation, every passing day the situation is worsening, so much so that there is a threat of utter devastation. Lack of waste management mechanisms has reduced the nation into a dump of toxic solid, liquid and gaseous waste. Seven of the world’s ten most polluted cities are in India.

Such is the impact that the earth’s ecosystem is suffering from global climatic changes.   Places famous for heavy rainfall are facing sporadic monsoon, drought prone areas are getting flooded. The metropolitan cities are the worst-hit part of the country in terms of environmental degradation. Chennai has been suffering water crisis since early May whereas it has been projected that Delhi’s groundwater would cease to exist in 2020 

Nature has a mechanism to counter pollution but the human race has outpaced this natural process. The need of the hour is to augment this natural restoration process through focussed intervention. The first step towards environmental conservation is spreading awareness, for with it comes a sense of responsibility.  United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stressed on the need for a widespread environmental awareness programme. It would safeguard the societal quality of life and ensure that sustainable development goals are met.

The best way to spread awareness is through education. ‘Catch them young’, the phrase may seem out of place here but if you want to instil lifelong learning you should inculcate it during childhood. A carefully designed learning system through which youngsters are exposed to various aspects of environmental conservation would help them develop a deep understanding of it. Children should be made aware of the threats of environmental degradation and should encourage to act responsibly. A child should not only be taught the name of a flower rather he should know why that flower is important in that ecosystem.

A well designed environmental education system would include both theoretical as well as practical exposure to environment conservation. A child would think a thousand times before plucking a flower or throwing litter if he knows that every action can have a repercussion. Children learn and unlearn many things but if at regular intervals they are made aware of their role in environmental conservation they would turn out to be a green ambassador. Thus, chapters, courses and modules on environment conservation should be designed in a manner that they are imbibed in the students' psyche. Students should be exposed to it at the primary level and continue to expand their understanding of environment conservation at a higher level.

India has a rich Vedic tradition wherein environment conservation was a prominent part of the life of every individual. If we try to find out we would be surprised that the ancient system too stressed on the need of educating about environment preservation. The students in the ‘gurukul’ were made to respect the laws of nature and strict penance was to be observed if someone violated the principle of environmental protection. Such was the resolve that blessings showered upon youngsters were connected with environment conservation.  The below Sanskrit hymn is the blessings showered upon an individual: 

“Madhuwata ritayate (May the air be regularly pure like honey), madhuksharanti sindhwah (May the flowing river be pure like honey)…”

It does not at all talk about the person’s growth rather its focus is on the betterment of the environment. It says that the air and water that constitute the environment should be pure like honey and through their purity you should be blessed with better health. 

The government has taken a commendable step by introducing a compulsory subject related to the environment. It would bring better results if children are given more practical exposure. Education may appear to be a long drawn process but it would bring a favourable result for sure.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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