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Education system and the role of water-environmental education

The human learns lessons from all past generations through education and this means the social progress.

Education (definitions):

  1. Deliberate process of teaching and learning to the benefit of human, society, and state that is accompanied by acknowledgement of achievement of state-established educational qualification.
  2. Deliberate learning activity to acquire reliable, true scientific knowledge or widespread knowledge.
  3. In the broadest sense, education includes all those experiences by which intelligence is developed, knowledge acquired, and character formed.
  4. Technically, the process of imparting of cultural heritage knowledge, values, and skills from one to another generation.
  5. Deliberate activity of people to acquire knowledge and skills in specific fields.

Source (in Russian): Obrazovaniye / Slovari & enziklopediyi na Akademike

The concept water-environmental education or water education is advisable to consider as part of "environmental education", which is more general and close in essence.

Moreover, the difference between water-environmental education and water education is that the former is focused on environmental aspects of water use and protection.

The concept water education, like water-environmental education can be considered in two dimensions:

  • First, transfer of general water knowledge at all stages of education on life-long basis and using all forms of education.
  • Second, preparation of water professionals in specialized education institutions.

It should be noted that in number of cases instead of water-environmental education the term environmental education is used.

Environmental education (definitions):

  1. Process, in which individuals gain awareness of their environment and acquire knowledge, skills, values, experiences, which will enable them to act - individually and collectively - to solve present and future environmental problems
  2. Education and facilitation of environmental friendliness among population // Geographical dictionary
  3. Element of formation of environmental culture // Environmental law of Russia: dictionary of legal terms
  4. System of knowledge about natural environment as a living environment of human, about an impact of industrial activity on natural environment, as well as knowledge and skills on environmental conservation // Professional education. Dictionary
  5. Process of learning to get and systematize knowledge about environment, acquire skills for environmental conservation, and foster general environmental culture.

System of lifelong environmental education is a set of environmental educational programs that meet state environmental standards.

Environmental education was brought forward by UNESCO and UNEP as a means to get humans live in harmony with nature. The Stockholm UN Conference on Human Environment (1972) adopted recommendations on contents of international program for environmental education. By the beginning of 1975, the Program was developed by UNESCO jointly with UNEP.

Environmental education and awareness training are among topical directions in education system.

Environmental conscience has become closely related with environmental education, with the latter becoming one of main fields of research and activity of UN agencies, especially UNESCO and UNEP.

The following interrelated components can be marked in the system of environmental education:

1) Scientific component

It forms the theoretical and methodological basis for the human-environment interaction strategy. The theoretical foundation of the environmental education is represented by leading ideas and concepts of naturalistic and humanitarian knowledge and results of fundamental and applied research.

The concept of human and nature evolution can serve as a theoretical basis of environmental education programs. Environmental paradigm in education process substantially increases the value of normative and value-based components.

2) Normative component

The normative component is represented by a system of moral, legal and aesthetic principles, norms and rules of environmental character that form social and human attitudes to natural resources and environment.

3) Value-based component

The value-based component of environmental education is comprised of ideals, ideas and goals that demonstrate the nature as a universal value. This proceeds from the understanding of close relationship between human and the biosphere. The value-based component of environmental education orients human to going beyond consumers attitudes to the natural environment.

Measures must be taken to prevent environment from pollution and degradation, preserve genetic diversity of living beings, and conserve the worlds gene pool. This requires competent human resources, finances and changes in time-honored pragmatic thinking.

The system of values needs to be changed. In this context, environmental education is particularly topical.

Environmental education and training life-long, comprehensive and obligatory followed by fostering of environmental aesthetic and culture pave the way for humane attitudes of the society to nature. This should be fostered as early as possible.

In the time of environmental crisis, when the biosphere is subjected to irreversible changes that limit living opportunities of human, environmental education gains the especial social meaning.

Environmental problems should be touched by all curricula as the former has become so serious and realistic that all channels of influence on an individual should be employed.

Environmental education is to form an environment-oriented paradigm, legal positions, the set of scientific knowledge, and ability to cooperate with each other; raise the level of culture of human and the society as a whole; and, improve moral qualities of people.

One of important factors to solve environmental problems is the global mental training, which puts environmental issues in the center of all curricula, starting from pre-school to higher education and provides for appropriate training of lecturers and managers.

Concerning the environmental education strategy, some experts consider it necessary to have a separate subject Ecology, which should be integrated into education at all level as environmental education is not equivalent to biological, geographical and other types of education despite its close connection with them. Others believe that it is more effective to include environmental focus into training subjects since environmental problems have global, interdisciplinary nature.

There are different opinions about the focus of environmental education.

First tendency refers to formation of green image through environmental education of population and transfer of environmental knowledge.

Second tendency is to focus on environmental-smart attitudes.

Third tendency is focused on formation of strategies and technologies so that the human could solve environmental problems in his/her practices.

Another component is eco-political one, where managers are trained to make environmentally balanced decisions, taking into account environmental risks.

Environmental education is aimed at learning the theory and practices of nature conservation as an element of human culture. One of important elements of environmental culture is the indicators of environmental knowledge gained in the process of general education. As a special institution, education has economic, social and cultural functions in the society.

The economic function of education consists in formation of a laborer, who has necessary economic knowledge and skills. The social function refers to socialization of an individual. The cultural function is to use the inherited culture to socialize an individual and develop its creative capacities.

The aim of environmental education is to accumulate needed scope of knowledge about relationships between the human society and the nature. Every person must have minimum scope of knowledge about ecology.

Learning nature protection and sustainable nature management principles is of primary importance in environmental education.

It is important to assess degree of environmental knowledge of a person, as well as knowledge of environmental pollution sources.

Such knowledge is essential for both common orientation in environmental situation and its usage in practices to prevent or limit the effect of specific factors damaging the nature and human health.

Three interrelated tasks for optimization of nature management are to be solved as a part of social renovation policy.

The first task is to analyze deeply the experience and lessons of the past, when environmental aspects were on periphery of science and environmental consequences of technological advances were mainly negative. Thus, because of unsatisfactory technological solutions of environmental problems, the earlier developed and currently operated treatment structures fail to clean wastewater in line with the required standards.

The second task is to remove effectively shortcomings in nature use practices, including environmental protection.

The third task is to develop the scientific and technological grounds for solution of the past and emerging environmental problems arisen in the context of intensive economic development.

It is also essential to identify correctly the causes of environmental disasters. Those include environmental illiteracy of majority, inefficient and ill-equipped propaganda. Additionally, human is not put in the focus of ecological activity.

Sources (in Russian):
Ekologitcheskoye obrazovaniye / Slovari i enziklopediyi na Akademike
Ekologitcheskoye soznaniye i ekologitcheskoye obrazovaniye
Ekologitcheskoye obrazovaniye
Ekologitcheskoye obrazovaniye
Ekologitcheskoye obrazovaniye v nastoyashem i budushem

Author: Rysbekov Yu. Kh., SIC ICWC

Selected bibliography