Environmental education

A key factor in building environmental resilience in developing countries is the need to reconnect rural communities to their local environment.  The impact of failing to recognize this inevitably leads to:

  • increased deforestation leading to increased soil erosion and reduced coastal protection
  • the unsustainable use of water resources
  • declining soil fertility, increased salinity in coastal areas, and the resulting inappropriate uses of fertilizer and pesticides
  • reduction in local income generating opportunities
  • increased migration to urban areas

A way forward that I have been involved with and which truly inspires me, is to work intensively with children in rural schools by immersing schoolchildren in knowledge of the surrounding natural world so that they develop an early sense of connection to their environment. 

A model of this way of working is described in Case study 2: The restoration of the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) of the Coromandel Coast, Tamil Nadu, India an EC co-financed project in Tamil Nadu. 

A significant component of this project was the transformation of a neglected rural village high school into a model environmental school with an adjacent environmental education centre providing a resource for teachers and pupils from 100 other schools in the district.  The project is very actively supported by the district and state education authorities and has prompted a number of replications throughout Tamil Nadu and in the neighbouring state of Puducherry (Pondicherry).

This article describes the development of Nadukuppam High School, Tamil Nadu, into a model environmental education school.  There is a further interesting article from an Auroville Green Practices Seminar about the Nadukuppam Environmental Education Centre.

As this project demonstrates, where children are encouraged to be the custodians of their local environment they develop a sense of responsibility and self-confidence. This has proved to be a powerful means to influence their parents and their traditional leaders, and to thereby leverage the re-engagement of their entire community.

This link will take you to a further environmental education initiative, which grew out of the TDEF project: http://www.auroville-botanical-gardens.org/

If children become custodians of their local environment they have the capacity to positively influence their parents, their communities and their leaders.
A community transect walk to collect information on the state of the local environment as a basis for discussions on how to develop an environmental school campus.
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