Environment Graduates Hunting for Jobs

Nature-based programs cannot be provided in regular school settings and that is why DoE is trying to increase the number of such schools.Nature-based programs cannot be provided in regular school settings and that is why DoE is trying to increase the number of such schools.

Half of the university graduates in environmental studies (49%) cannot find jobs, according to official figures.

Fresh graduates in these majors face challenges in the job market. Experts in this field say opening more nature schools across the country “is the best way to address the problem.”

From the total 10,577 fresh graduates who passed out last year, 5,191 are hunting for work.

“Ideally, one nature teacher is required for every student enrolled in a nature school. Establishment of each such school can facilitate work for a large number of environment graduates,” says Mohammad Darvish, deputy for education and public participation affairs at the Department of Environment (DoE).

“Job applicants should attend teacher-training courses before becoming certified nature teachers,” he said quoted by IRNA.  

There are 8.6 million children between ages three and 12 years in the country, and if five million enroll in environment schools and “we employ one nature teacher for every 10 children in these schools, then we will need to recruit 500,000 nature teachers,” Darvish said.

The DoE has a 10-year plan to create jobs for 200,000 environment graduates.  

Currently, there are 47 nature schools in Tehran, Alborz, Isfahan, Khorasan Razavi, South Khorsan, Golestan, Mazandaran, Gilan, East Azarbaijan, Fars, Kerman, Bushehr, and Kermanshah provinces.

Since the beginning of the current year in March, 63 requests for establishment of nature schools have been sent to the department.

“Thanks to contributions by the Forest Rangeland and Watershed Management Organization (FRWO), this year the number of the schools are expected to increase significantly,” the official said.

Based on an agreement signed with the  FRWO, DoE is allowed to establish nature schools in any of the 357 forest parks or 400 rural gardens across the country.

 Five in Tehran

There are five nature schools in Tehran Province located in Gilanvand, (Damavand County), Lavasanat (Shemiranat County), Birds Garden in east Tehran (Hengam Street), Pardisan Park (northwest Tehran) and Azadi Sports Complex on the western flank.

In 2013, a memorandum of understanding was signed between DoE and the Education Ministry calling on the two sides to establish nature schools in the country.

“In the first year after implementation of the plan only three schools were established. The number reached 30 and 47 during the second and third years,” Darvish said.

The Education Ministry also has the responsibility to raise parents’ awareness about the importance of connecting children and nature by enrolling them in nature schools.

 Connecting With Nature

“The idea behind the schools is to encourage and inspire children of different ages through positive outdoor experiences. Most of the schools have been established in the vicinity of farmlands, near birds’ nesting places, trees, and other areas where wildlife can live in harmony alongside humans,” he said.

Nature-based programs cannot be provided in regular school settings and that is why DoE is trying to increase the number of such schools. They also aim to develop self awareness, self regulation, intrinsic motivation, empathy, good social communication skills, independence, self esteem and confidence in children and adolescents, he said.

The schools have two guiding principles in their programs: connecting deeply with nature through practical participation, and exploring the environment as co-learners.

According to Darvish, each school should be established on land with area of at least two hectares. Children under the age of seven can be enrolled fulltime in the schools (instead of being enrolled in kindergartens).

At present teacher-to-student ratio is 1 to 5 in most of the schools. Nature teachers have been employed to supervise and give an appropriate direction to children’s activities in the environment; student-driven activities surpass teacher-directed programs.

Children over the age of seven from other schools can visit the nature schools for half a day per week. Children can be brought to the schools by their parents or by their regular school teachers. This way, regular schools can integrate nature education into their curriculum.

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