Interest in environment starts at an early age

The Education Ministry has placed emphasis on environmental education, and a new organization to better coordinate actions and manage staffing is in the pipeline. Protection of the environment has become a pressing matter and developing environmental awareness is a necessity. Research findings of the Pedagogical Institute from a sample of 450 educators revealed that six in 10 (58.1 percent) thought environmental issues were given little attention in senior high schools, 56.9 percent thought that environmental courses were not implemented and 55.4 percent that senior high schools contributed very little to raising students’ environmental awareness. Every year 2000 environmental educational courses on issues such as the sea, rivers, sustainable cities, quality of life and traditional settlements are organized every year. The number of courses run is on the rise but the results are not satisfactory. Only two hours a week are available for environmental education in primary schools, while in junior high schools the two hours a week designated for environmental issues are optional and taught as an extracurricular activity, at a time when pupils start to form opinions about major issues. How many children have time to attend when they have to go to extra classes at tuition centers after school? According to Dina Schiza, head of environmental education in the First Department for Secondary Education in Athens, about 15 percent of secondary school pupils have attended an environmental course or activities at an Environmental Education Center (KPE). More is needed in lower classes as environmental awareness starts at an early age. Apart from protecting the environment, students also need to learn that sustainability is linked to the actions of the general public. If the system does not educate pupils to be critical and active citizens, there will be no innovation.