Environmental Education Guidelines Launched
MEDIA RELEASE 3 AUGUST 1999
BRINGING CONSERVATION TO THE CLASSROOM
Education and Conservation Minister Nick Smith today launched New Zealand's first environmental education guidelines for schools, saying that over time they would make a huge contribution to improving New Zealand's environment.
"Environmental education is a vital area that New Zealand children should learn about. The health of our natural world is a significant influence on the health of our communities and ourselves. It is notable that these guidelines for schools are being released in Conservation Week, with it's theme of 'Our chance to turn the tide', as education is a key factor in conservation."
The guidelines were launched at Auckland Regional Council's Arataki Environment and Heritage Centre. The centre demonstrates how learning about the environment can be educational as well as fun, and hands-on activities for children aid learning. The Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools will support the national strategy for environmental education, Learning to Care for Our Environment: Me Ako ki te Tiaki Taiao.
"Education is a far better tool than rules and regulations in protecting our environment. Rules tend to antagonise people and are very difficult to enforce, whereas education empowers people and builds community support for conservation. Children need to understand that the family dog can kill kiwis, that pretty introduced plants like wild ginger can wreak havoc on our native bush, and that chemicals down the waste pipe can ruin their favourite swimming spot."
The Ministry of Education will running a series of workshops for teachers to help support these new guidelines. The Ministry is also supporting these initiatives with funding for Learning Experiences Outside The Classroom (LEOTC) of $10 million over three years, for teachers involved in environmental education.
"Environmental education is important for our young people as we move into the next millennium. It cuts across the traditional boundaries of science, the arts, industry and economics. Everyone needs to understand our environment if New Zealand is to have a sustainable future."