Basic environmental education principles for schools
1. The school’s commitment
The purpose of environmental protection and conservation and the acceptance of a positive attitude toward the environment as one of the fundamental educational and life values require the commitment of the entire school and its entire staff. To attain this common goal, schools need to develop an action programme that will include all aspects of school life.
2. School management
The accepted commitments, environmental protection programmes and past experiences need to be fully incorporated into every activity as one of the basic elements of school management.
3. Educational activities
Schools must focus on the needs of their students and other stakeholders in the education process and on value acceptance. They must promote a visionary, problem, interdisciplinary, research, participatory and active approach. They must apply adequate methods and organisation forms (such as project classes, outdoor classes, open days) and experience learning on examples from the students’ own immediate environment.
4. Continual research of improvement options
Schools must systematically and actively monitor and keep improving the environmental education and the accepted principles, taking into consideration technical and economic development, scientific learnings, the needs of their students, and the expectations of the community - and be open to changes.
5. Professional training
They must educate and motivate all their employees to include environmental protection in all their activities, and to treat the environment responsibly.
6. Ex-ante assessment
Schools must plan their activities based on a situation assessment, i.e. the problems and the interesting and motivating topics they observed. They must estimate the environmental impact of any activity or project before they begin implementing them.
Schools must develop and implement activities keeping in mind more efficient energy and water consumption, reduction of negative impact on the environment, reduction, avoidance, and safe and responsible waste disposal, protection of the nature and landscape, and continuous dissemination of information at school and in the local community.
Schools must open themselves up, get connected with other educational institutions and work on common projects with them.
9. Connecting with potential partners
Schools must get connected with all relevant partners (local governments and self-governments, companies in the environmental protection business, scientific institutions, municipal and other companies, NGOs, the media, the church, their students’ parents, and so on) to accomplish greater efficiency in the realisation of the planned programmes.
10. Encouraging associates, partners and suppliers
Schools must encourage their associates to implement these principles. They must encourage and contribute to their better implementation wherever possible until they are aligned with the principles applied at the school.
11. Contribution to joint efforts
Schools must contribute to the development of public policies and support good programmes and initiatives that will raise awareness of the need to protect the environment in the extended community.
12. Monitoring and reporting
They must regularly monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes in consistence with the spirit of these principles, and their alignment with the requirements of adequate school functioning and legal regulations.
They must inform the stakeholders in the education process (students, teachers and other employees, parents), relevant educational institutions and the public about programme realisation in certain intervals.
(Source: B. Devernay, D. Garašić, V. Vučić: Education for the Environment and for Sustainable Development – A Handbook for Teachers and Educators, UNICEF, Zagreb 2001., p. 261)
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