By Cristian Frers
Environmental education is a pedagogical process that seeks to awaken in the population an awareness that allows them to identify with environmental problems. It seeks to identify the relationships of interaction and independence that exist between the environment and man and promotes a harmonious relationship between the natural environment and anthropogenic activities through sustainable development, in order to guarantee the sustainability and quality of current generations and future.
"An intelligent person solves problems, a wise person avoids them" - Albert Einstein
Since ancient times the earth has represented a source of life for man, providing him with everything he has needed to survive. In this way, man has exploited, and continues to do so, the resources that nature provides, however in the last three decades the indiscriminate and unconscious exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources has become evident.
At present, almost no one denies the importance of the environmental issue and that its presence in the political and economic discussions of the world is becoming stronger and stronger. Today, environmental problems affect almost all sectors of the life of a country.
Beyond traditional education, that is, the simple fact of imparting knowledge, environmental education is a dynamic and participatory pedagogical process, which seeks to awaken in the population an awareness that allows them to identify with environmental problems both at a general level, as at a specific level; seeks to identify the relationships of interaction and independence that exist between the environment and man, as well as is concerned with promoting a harmonious relationship between the natural environment and anthropogenic activities through sustainable development, all in order to guarantee the sustainability and quality of current and future generations.
This process should be based on "learning to learn", which includes experiences where play, action and direct contact with the environment are the fundamental pillars. It allows children to enter the process of bio-literacy. From an early age the child should be instilled with the first ideas about the conservation of flora, fauna and other components of the environment. The teacher must carry out his work in a way that forms in the students, respect, love and interest for the conservation of all the elements that make up the environment. At school and at home this conservationist consciousness of the man of tomorrow must be forged.
The child grows and develops under the influence of a complex teaching-educational process, in which the school fulfills a social mandate that has the objective that the future citizen receives education and education, and is integrated into the society in which he lives. a harmonious way, politically and ideologically formed in correspondence with the principles of our society. In this sense, the child must be educated so that he fully occupies his rightful place in nature, as a component element of it. He must understand that he is an integral part of the ecological system and that, as such, he has duties to fulfill.
In addition, education and training for adolescents and adults should be offered. The program must include workshops for children, workshops for teachers, short courses, seminars, national and international symposia and talks.
This process is aimed at the community in general and is outlined as an orientation of issues related to development processes that tend in the short, medium and long term to establish tools that prevent the natural deterioration of natural resources and integrate awareness changes in the forms of conduct, always towards the environment to achieve sustainability.
Environmental education, rather than being limited to a specific aspect of the educational process, must become a privileged basis for developing a new lifestyle. It must be an educational practice open to social life so that members of society participate, according to their possibilities, in the complex and supportive task of improving relations between humanity and its environment.
The environmental is, at the same time, a space where the social and the natural converge and, therefore, a space where the different disciplines of knowledge coexist to understand the biunivocal determinations between the natural and the social. This pedagogical mechanism also infuses the interaction that exists within ecosystems. Physical, chemical and biological processes and factors, how they react, relate and intervene with each other within the environment, is another of the topics that environmental education spreads, all this in order to understand our environment and form a culture Conservationist where man applies clean techniques in all his production processes, providing solutions to environmental problems and thus allowing sustainable development.
The objective of environmental education is to ensure that both individuals and communities understand the complexity of the natural environment and that created by man, the latter resulting from the interaction of biological, physical-chemical, social, economic and cultural factors, in order to that they acquire knowledge, values, attitudes and skills; practices that allow them to participate responsibly and effectively in the anticipation and resolution of environmental problems.
Another Objective is to clearly show the economic, political and ecological interdependence of the modern world, due to which the decisions and actions of different countries can have international repercussions.
From this perspective, environmental education will contribute to developing a sense of responsibility and solidarity between countries and regions, as the basis for a new international order, to guarantee the conservation and improvement of the environment.
We can affirm then that environmental education aims to achieve this change of approach, playing an essential role in the understanding and analysis of socioeconomic problems, raising awareness and promoting the development of positive behavioral behaviors with respect to their relationship with the environment, putting I manifest the permanent continuity that links the acts of the present to the consequences of the future.
Environmental education in Argentina is little more than in its infancy, despite the efforts and official plans that are being implemented, both in the Ministry of Education of the Nation and in the equivalent bodies of the provinces, due to: lack of connection between the individual measures that are implemented and the social problem, the temporary nature of the proposed actions (they do not lead to the formation of habits), it is not allowed to develop the creativity of the subjects, since there is no continuity between the content that is transmitted and the conceptions and representations of the subjects and finally, the lack of information about local problems in conjunction with national problems. Official assistance is scarce or practically null. This is mainly due to the precarious importance that is frequently given to education, both from the state and other sectors of society, which translates as a contraction of the public educational system, as an effect of a low budget and the absence of a debate about the quality and benefits of the education provided.
Most of the conservation problems remain the same as in the late 1960s and early 1970s: pollution, deforestation, species disappearance. These problems not only continue but have worsened. This fact contrasts with the growing concern of the public, which is calling for greater regulation by governments, which is pushing to enact new laws and which has motivated the creation of specific bodies to address these issues. If many of these problems are old, then it can be inferred that the successes of traditional environmental education must be very few.
Education with an environmental approach will allow to open new work perspectives in areas such as heritage protection, create social awareness about the problems of environmental deterioration, both in cultural and natural assets, as well as the generation of new knowledge, new techniques and new directions in vocational training.
The knowledge of the environmental problems, can, under principles oriented to help to understand a little more the complexity of the reality that we live. This does not mean that the contents by themselves lead to a change in attitudes.
Environmental education must go beyond the simple transmission of concepts that favor the passive attitude of the student. It requires the ability to analyze and propose solutions to problems. These can be achieved through the questioning of ideas, the formulation of new hypotheses, as well as the integration and practice of values.
Cristian Frers - Senior Technician in Environmental Management and Senior Technician in Social Communication - Argentina