Educators should promote environmental literacy as early as at pre-school level, insisted Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) in welcoming the federal government’s proposal to introduce environmental education in schools.
SAM president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the environmental education should embed the values of sustainable consumption, sustainable development and of stewardship of natural resources in individuals and communities.
He said the knowledge gained should be translated to attitudes in caring for the environment, working for its defence and protecting its richness.
He said SAM strongly encouraged the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and Education to implement hands-on initiatives to the pupils in the environmental education.
“In Malaysia, environmental education in schools had often sidelined.
“Thus, a new curriculum with a more holistic approach is needed in achieving environmental literacy
“Educators of today should promote environmental literacy in schools and as early as in pre-school level,” said Idris in a statement today.
NRE Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has proposed to introduce environmental education in schools.
Idris said the hands-on initiatives should focus primarily on outdoor exposure to inspire environmental awareness and actions, including gardening, farming, river monitoring, learning about trees and forests, that can provide in-depth, holistic awareness and understanding of the importance of the environment and human relationship with it.
According to the UNESCO-UNEP International Environmental Education Programme, an environmentally literate person is an individual who would be able to understand, make informed decisions and act concerning the environment; working individually and collectively in promoting a balance between the quality of life and the quality of the environment.
“In addition to the current syllabus which has some elements of environmental education infused into several subjects and existing environmental clubs in schools, SAM strongly encourages the NRE and the Education Ministries to implement hands-on initiatives to the pupils.
“These initiatives not only promote a sense of ownership and appreciation, but also provide a sense of empowerment to the pupils in making a change towards a sustainable lifestyle.
“It will also help the pupils to be critical thinkers and responsible towards their natural surroundings,” said Idris in a statement today.
SAM is willing to provide assistance to the NRE ministry in creating the curriculum, as Idris said it was crucial that the pupils of today understood that all of us were global citizens living in a global environment.
“Every footprint we leave has its repercussions and affects each and every one of us.
“Thus, environmental education is a step in achieving environmental literacy in promoting positive decision-making and action-taking; all towards a cleaner, greener, healthier environment,” he said.