People, Environment

Teaching Them Young

Teaching Them YoungTeaching Them Young

Following the launch of 11 environment schools across the country, the Department of Environment is now set to establish nine more by the end of the current Iranian year (March 2017).

"The main purpose of these schools is to educate children at ages 3 to 12 about ecosystems, natural resources and the importance of environmental protection," Mohammad Darvish, director of DOE's Public Participation Office, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

Based on a memorandum of understanding between the DOE and the Education Ministry, eco-schools must become an integral part of the country's education system over the next few years.

"If expanded, the schools can help raise environmental awareness among different social strata, beginning with children and young adults,"  he said.

Eco-schools worldwide are part of a program of the Foundation for Environmental Education that aims to empower students to be the change that a sustainable world needs by engaging them in fun, action-orientated and socially responsible learning.

Over time and through commitment to the eco-schools' processes, improvements will be seen in the learning outcomes, attitude and behavior of students and the local community, and ultimately the local environment.  Despite carrying the internationally-recognized title of eco-schools, Iranian schools seem to be working independently but they follow the same guidelines and toward the same goal.

Non-governmental organizations play a key role in delivering the curriculum.

For instance, a program run by Earth's Whisper (an environmental NGO based in Tehran) takes 4- to 12-year-old children to an area in Pardisan Park in Tehran once a week, where they can experience close contact with the environment through activities, including caring for animals, making shelters for them, hiking, making fire and cooking over it.

The purpose is to have children develop a feeling of fondness for nature so they learn to respect and preserve it. These schools avoid any conventional and direct teaching about environmental issues such as poaching, pollution and extinction. Darvish also pointed to the inadequate number of environmental NGOs in the country, stressing that it should grow by 10 to 20 times, given the country's population of almost 80 million.

"The number of NGOs in the country currently stands at 822, which has almost doubled since the present administration took office in 2013, but is still insufficient in proportion to the population," he said.