From the Viewsroom

Learning about the environment

Dakshiani Palicha | Updated on November 06, 2019

The New Education Policy fails to shine much light on this subject

The draft National Education Policy 2019 (NEP), which was finalised recently, has suggested some significant changes in India’s education system. While it covers various aspects, from medium of instruction to examination cycles, in detail, there’s only a mention of a subject whose study is becoming more imperative: the environment.

It is obvious now that our future leaders are worried about the planet they will inherit. Children around the world, led by Greta Thunberg, are taking to the streets, demanding action from leaders to tackle the worsening environmental conditions. Environmental studies ought to be regarded with a new sense of urgency in the context of climate change and its palpable impacts. Deforestation and soil degradation pose existential dangers; it is no longer possible to regard environmentalism as some sort of fad. It ought to be at the centre of education in both science and social sciences. The draft NEP does mention integrating the subject in higher/professional education. And there has been progress earlier as well. In 2003, environmental education was mandated at all school levels by the Supreme Court. A great idea, which led to the birth of what students now know as ‘EVS’ (environmental science). Only, EVS teaching rarely goes beyond drawing diagrams of rainwater harvesting and how to — theoretically — prevent air pollution.

Environmental education should stimulate practical solutions. This does not just mean celebrating the student who took the initiative to build a water purifier, but enabling all potential planet-saving ideas to take shape in school itself — not put them on hold till engineering college. One can argue that this puts the burden of learning one more subject on the children; on the contrary, theories learnt in maths and science could be put to practical use in the new EVS to encourage interest, and also make it fun.

Though EVS has been a school subject for years, it has not been given the attention it deserves. The NEP could have addressed this and recommended solutions.

The author is a Sub Editor at The Hindu BusinessLine

Published on November 06, 2019

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