‘Environmental education must be acquired at earlier ages’

January 23, 2019

TEHRAN – Environmental education has been included in the country’s school curriculum to prepare students for natural resources and environment protection, while it needs to be more efficient and acquired at earlier ages to make favorable cognitive and behavioral changes in the students, Mehr news agency reported on Sunday.

One of the main concerns for every nation is the environment and the interaction between the people and their surrounding environment; for the life of human as well as all other animals depends on the environment. Yet, in the past two centuries with the apparent great advances, human beings have caused damages to the environment consciously or unconsciously, and Iran is no exception.

In spite of the fact that Iran is dealing with 4 major environmental issues, including water scarcity, soil erosion, air pollution and endangered biodiversity, neither of the responsible officials, nor the public have the necessary knowledge to find proper solutions for containing the issues, thus their poor natural resource management along with not being committed has exacerbated the country’s environmental issues.

Environmental education and making the students committed and informed of the environmental values in early ages has become a great challenge for the Iranian school’s curriculum, so that educational materials on environment protection have been included in 11th grade curriculum since the beginning of last school year (September 23, 2017).

The book entitled “human and environment”, is comprised of 7 lessons focusing on the importance of water, soil, air, energy, waste, biodiversity and environment.

For environment to be an all-encompassing concern for the public, it should be based on the educational materials and school curriculum at different grades of education which in turn requires proper programming, fine materials and curriculum, providing textbooks in line with its objectives, and well-trained and informed teachers capable of perceiving the concepts and making them comprehensible for the students to consider environment safeguarding not only as a material, but a human responsibility. 

The students are trained to learn knowledge and values to employ them in their very life; so only textbooks cannot contribute much to this end.

Mehrdad Haqshenas, a teacher who has been teaching the book for two years, said that one of the important issues with the book is that it has not been devoted to attractive environmental subjects, for instance, the wildlife and behavioral characteristics of extinct animals are not included in the book, while could amaze and involve the students.

He went on to add that the Asiatic cheetah is not mentioned throughout the book, and only sufficed to a photograph of the precious endangered species.

The book is said to aim at informing the student of the environmental challenges the country is facing, however, due to conservative approach towards unsustainable development, such as excessive damn construction, water transfer, mines and Industries, the environmentally-consciousness concept would not form in the students, he explained.

Another major problem with the book is that it is presented in high schools, when students are preparing for the university entrance exam, he lamented, adding that teachers are obliged to present the lessons as quickly as possible, so that students can practice for more important exams.

He regretted that the environmental issues can be presented by many educational films, traveling and workshops, though, the lessons are taught within 5 months, which makes the class uncompromising, without any attractive educational content.

In addition to the book’s content not being applicable, the faculties teaching the book are almost biology teachers, not environmental specialists, Haqshenas also lamented.

“The experts believe that environmental education must be taught to students at early ages, so it was better to design the book for the elementary school students, who have fewer lessons and are living a more enthusiastic stages of their lives,” he concluded.

FB/MQ/MG

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