Pune: Is your child aware about the decreasing number of sparrows in the city or about the native bird of Pune? Despite environment education being part of school's syllabus beginning Class I, a Pune-based researcher—who conducted a study across 10 states—found out that less than three per cent of students in the city were knew about the bio-diversity around them. This shocking fact was a part of a study conducted by Erach Barucha, a city-based researcher and chairman of the Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board, in which, more than 150students from across the city participated.
What's even more surprising is the fact that the students who did not have environmental education as a part of their syllabus did slightly better in the study.
"The study was conducted to understand the existing gap between textbook teachings and the actual knowledge. The results that were later submitted to the government authorities called for making alternative provisions in teaching children about the environment, starting from a young age," said Bharucha. Bharucha's study pointed to the fact that information provided in the textbooks was not well-explained. "Merely including environmental education in schools as well as college syllabus is not sufficient. Students need to learn these concepts from nature, field trips and projects and not just through classroom teaching," explained Bharucha.
In fact, an ongoing study at the Department of Bio-Diversity at Abasaheb Garware College states that rural students fare much better at such subjects, for obvious reasons, than their urban counterparts. "Since the last couple of years, the ongoing study has observed that rural students are more observant of their surroundings and the natural resources. I agree that textbook education is ruining our children's understanding of bio-diversity. Our study found out that urban children do not have their concepts clear and this is majorly because of lack in practical exposure," said Ankur Patwardhan, head of department, Abasaheb Garware College.
Bharucha also pointed to the need of including information on local biodiversity as most books are generic and do not include information on local resources. "It should be made clear to students that biodiversity is not just about forests and hills, but also about the neighbourhood ponds and gardens. Students are the opinion makers of the future and inclusion of biodiversity in their studies will make them and their families aware about the need to conserve it," said Arundhati Vishwasrao, faculty at department of environment sciences at University of Pune.
Promoting local biodiversity issues among students:
- Textbook pattern should be changed along with visuals for students to understand it better.
- Textbooks must include studies on the environmental issues related to each state specifically.
- Teachers should be trained in the local environmental issues.
- Audio visuals of the local biodiversity must be exercised regularly to educate students better.
- Nature trails, mountain trecks and camping are some options that can help kids explore nature