Teachers’ Union says No to the idea of Environmental Education in Schools
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Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has proposed introducing environmental education as a new subject in Malaysia schools, the better to inculcate a green mindset in the country’s youngsters.
Great idea? We think so.
The Sarawak Teachers Union begs to differ, however. The union’s president, Jisin Nyud, says that adding a new subject in schools would be a burden to both students and their teachers. It would also be superfluous.
“Environmental education has [already] been introduced to students via co-curricular activities such as during environmental club meetings, with the help of other agencies,” Jisin said. “Besides, environmental education should also start at home and with the community itself because it has something to do with the students’ attitude towards the environment and nature,” he added. “In fact, our environment is everyone’s responsibility.”
Fair points? That depends. Whereas it’s perfectly true that the environment is everyone’s responsibility and that environmental awareness must start at home, schools do have a significant role to play in influencing the attitudes of children, for better or for worse.
Sadly, based on the attitudes of many young Malaysians, it does not seem like many schools have succeeded in imparting the importance of sustainability and environmental conservation to students. That said, many Malaysian teachers are conscientious educators and they would likely be more than willing to take on the task as part of a new subject in the curriculum.
“If we are going to add one more subject such as environmental education, then there would be financial implications,” Jisin also stressed. Perhaps so. Yet the Education Ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment could surely work out ways to help cover the costs of this new subject.
Increased environmental awareness among young people would be especially important in states like Sarawak that are blessed with bountiful natural resources yet have seen those same resources severely degraded through the years because of rampant mismanagement and neglect.