Environmental Education may Soon be Taught in Malaysian Schools
Environmental education can make a world of difference by introducing children to the workings of the natural environment. Photo Credit: Flickr
Earlier this year Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, minister of Natural Resources and Environment, announced that his ministry was considering introducing environmental education into school curricula. The aim, he said, was to inculcate a love of nature in young Malaysians and to teach them about sustainable ways of living.
A great idea that. However, some teachers have begged to differ. The Sarawak Teacher’s Union, for one, said it opposed the introduction of a new subject to school curricula because it would add to the workload of students and teachers alike. “Environmental education has [already] been introduced to students via co-curricular activities such as during environmental club meetings, with the help of other agencies,” the union’s president said.
“Besides,” he stressed, “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 went on: “In fact, our environment is everyone’s responsibility.”
While this is definitely true, it does not mean that young Malaysians should not learn about nature and green living systematically at school. Such learning is surely bound to be more efficient than simply expecting children to absorb all that knowledge on their own at home through some sort of osmosis.
Now comes Round 2, though: Wan Junaidi is sticking to his guns. (And as well he should.)
The minister insists that it is vital that young Malaysians learn to appreciate the country’s wondrous yet increasingly beleaguered natural environment from very early on in formal educational settings. To make sure that happens, he wants to see environmental education added to the curricula of children from kindergarten onwards. “We need to start from an early age to create awareness on the importance of protecting the environment, and as a subject in school, it will be a great step forward,” Wan Junaidi said.
The Education Ministry is reportedly on board with the idea and if all goes well environmental education will begin to be taught in schools in about two years.
Fingers crossed. Educating young Malaysians systematically about the wonders of their nation’s natural resources and ways to preserve them will be key in the country’s quest to transition to cleaner and greener lifestyles and economics. The sooner we start dong so, the better.