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Teach kids to be responsible and sensitive

2 March 2005

Teach kids to be responsible, sensitive, and civic-minded

The Government should incorporate sustainability and environmental education into the curriculum and culture of New Zealand schools in line with a new United Nations initiative, the Green Party says.

The UN has today launched its Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in New York, aimed at encouraging governments to integrate the concept of sustainable development into all aspects of learning so as to bring about behavioural changes that will usher in a more viable and just society.

"Education for sustainable development is about teaching our kids how to be responsible, sensitive and civic-minded," Green Education Spokesperson Metiria Turei said. "It's not just about saving trees but rather thinking about the impacts of our lives on the planet's resources. For example, fighting poverty is a key challenge to environmental sustainability.

"Through this decade, we need to encourage our children and our communities to link poverty, transport and environmental protection as crucial to a fair, just and sustainable New Zealand."

Mrs Turei said that Education Minister David Benson-Pope's insinuation in Parliament a few weeks ago that environmental education and the UN Decade were insignificant showed how dismissive of sustainability the Minister and the Government are.

"That attitude is utterly irresponsible and obviously out of touch with the rest of the world."

Mrs Turei said the Government should make a commitment to funding and coordinating sustainability education programmes.

"Programmes such as the excellent Enviro Schools rely on the commitment of local authorities for funding and support, which varies around the country. In some areas, local interest ensures the programme is effective, in others indifference means it is somewhat limited.

"In 2000, the Greens secured money in the Budget to help schools integrate environmental education into the curriculum. The launch today of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development provides a perfect opportunity for the Government to commit to continuing this resourcing and to building practical links between the Ministries of Education and Environment so that education for sustainable development is properly integrated across the education sector," said Mrs Turei.

ENDS


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