Climate change is no longer a discussion that can happen in silos. Increasing carbon footprint and its impact on the 21st century environment is becoming part of many daily conversations in schools. But to achieve long term goals, more needs to be done.
India has the lowest per capita emissions compared to the major world economies including the US, China and the European Union. Despite this fact, the impact of climate change has become evident in our country through rising levels of air pollution and extreme weather situations. Therefore, India is an active stakeholder in shouldering the responsibility with its global partners in combating the climate crisis.
It’s time for educators to take cognizance of this fact and delve deeper on why climate change is not a one-country issue but needs individual, local, and global intervention. The role of schools is to break the notion that protecting the environment is only the responsibility of the government. We need to remember that the foundational thinking of an individual is shaped during his/her school days. Therefore, nurturing children who will be leaders of tomorrow—possessing the right mindset, skills, and vision towards environmental preservation—is important.
Here are some measures that schools can take for students to make them environmentally-conscious citizens for a better collective future.
CONCEPT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CITIZENSHIP
Introducing the concept of Environmental Citizenship (EC) in classrooms can help students understand the importance of living in harmony with nature. This develops within them a sense of responsibility towards environmental conservation. It is based on one's life choices in minimizing the ecological impact on earth.
Awareness among children through such concepts can influence their families towards responsible consumption and conservation of resources. For example, minimizing the usage of electricity, undertaking water conservation, and practising reuse and recycle. The ultimate goal of EC is to develop green citizens.
In light of this, our school has designed a program ‘Go Green’ to strengthen students’ knowledge and skills through daily activities and lifestyles that can positively impact the environment.
TRAIN THE TEACHERS
Teachers need to be well-aware about the issue of climate change irrespective of the subjects they teach. Therefore, schools must have a well-designed and comprehensive program that can sensitize them about conservation issues. This can guide them and help them evolve the right teaching pedagogy. It is important for a teacher to know his/her role and responsibility in engaging students, through dialogue or active participation, for environmental preservation.
CREATING GREEN AMBASSADORS
Following green practices, like nature walks and observation tours, are the best examples of experiential learning programs. These sensitize the students towards actual ground realities. Beginning from their campus, students
must be introduced to the flora and fauna in their school and be encouraged to conduct a biodiversity assessment in the area.
Conservation, biodiversity and wildlife experts can be invited to deliver talks in schools and sensitize the impressionable young minds. Students can also become role models for others by volunteering as ‘Green Ambassadors’ in schools. This would motivate them to adopt green lifestyles and eco-friendly practices, particularly, towards waste management.
USE OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION
As part of bringing about change, there are numerous activities related to climate change that can be carried out in schools. We
need to inculcate knowledge, right set of skills, attitude, and values among students to help them make informed choices and decisions. Undertaking long term projects with a ‘design thinking’ approach in mind, will help them in identifying problems, ideating solutions, building prototypes, and adapting local methodologies.
For example, a group of students from our school created a product called E-Sanitarios.’ This was made for collecting online deliveries at the doorsteps of customers following full safety norms. The students identified the problem emanating from rising numbers of return deliveries. These deliveries caused transportation and carbon footprint to increase excessively. Thus, they worked on a solution with the help of technology.
The most important aim of our education is to build capacities of young minds. It is also to help them unleash their creativity and develop leadership skills, useful for our environment.