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Encouraging environmental education in schools

Thu, 8 Apr 2004

Encouraging environmental education in schools

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today released ground-breaking research on environmental education practice, which will be a significant resource for schools.

"This report will be an excellent resource for schools who want to develop their own environmental education programmes. It will also provide important lessons for school-based development of the national curriculum for programmes in other special focus areas," Trevor Mallard said.

Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools: Research into Current Practice and Future Possibilities, from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and Waikato University, is the first major national study on environmental education in New Zealand schools.

"There is significant interest in the research report from the national and international environmental education community," Trevor Mallard said.

"The research shows many schools are giving their students the skills they need to contribute to a sustainable future for New Zealand.

"I am impressed with the commitment of teachers and students who are undertaking truly amazing projects, such as reforesting a local island. These projects are leading to real environmental change and what's also impressive is that students are leading many of these changes.

"The work of Kamo Intermediate students to restore their school environment by creating "Islands of Life" in the school grounds was so successful that in 2002 the school was chosen as a finalist in an international young environmentalist competition. Now the students and teachers have developed systems to sustain their project including a greenhouse for native seedlings, composting and wormfarming.

"Another exciting development is some secondary schools, such as Christchurch Girls' High School, working towards National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) programmes focused on environmental education and sustainability."

Trevor Mallard said many schools had tapped into their community's skills and resources to give their environmental programmes real impetus and relevance.

"It's clear from the report that for environmental education to provide immediate and lasting benefits, there needs to be a whole-school commitment to planning and integration, rather than relying on one or two enthusiastic teachers to drive environmental change.

Trevor Mallard launched the report at Wilton's Otari School, which is involved in composting, recycling and worm farming and has also embarked on a year-long project to preserve its local stream.

"Students are actively engaged with local authorities, teachers and parents so they can define the problems and devise and implement solutions including educating their community about stream care.

"This government has made its own commitment to environmental education in schools by establishing regional co-ordinators to work with teachers and schools to develop and implement their environmental education vision. This report will give some strong direction and focus to their work," Trevor Mallard said. The four-volume report can be found at: www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/eereports


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