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P'tary Commissioner welcomes education boost

10 May 2006

Parliamentary Commissioner welcomes sustainability education boost

A $13 million boost to education for sustainability as part of the Budget on 18 May has been welcomed by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Morgan Williams.

The government is planning to spend $13 million over four years for environmental education support for teachers and school children. Dr Williams says this is a significant funding increase and he is delighted to see education for sustainability recognised.

“This is at the very heart of education for the 21st century. Education today is very good at recognising the social connections between people, but not so good at recognising the connections between people and the planet that sustains them.”

Dr Williams says that education for sustainability goes way beyond the old-style Nature Studies, in which the environment was the ‘green bit’ tacked on to other subjects. The Enviroschools programme will get $4.6 million of the $13 million, and a school taking part in the programme will not only reduce its waste, energy and water use, but will also examine its physical surroundings, curriculum, and teaching of life skills.

“Environmental education becomes integrated into the whole of school life and into all levels of learning,” he says.

In 2004, the PCE had released a major report on how New Zealanders can learn to live in sustainable ways. “See Change: Learning and education for sustainability” concluded that it was essential for education for sustainability to have a strong presence in primary and secondary schools. Dr Williams says the next challenge is to ensure it becomes a core part of tertiary education so that tomorrow’s decision makers have the understanding to shape a sustainable future for New Zealand.


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