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Environmental Education for Sustainable Development in Georgia (Snapshot)

Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia

Tbilisi, 2012


INTRODUCTION 21st century is marked and marred with global recession, emergencies, climate change, global warming, poverty, social inequality and the repercussions of conflicts. These challenges have left very few countries untouched. All these issues resulted in even greater challenges for low income or less developed countries and their future development, including economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. The role of environmental education per se is paramount not only for environment protection and preservation but for the broader context in which all we live, for the remarkable and unique challenge of sustainable development that greatly determines our future for the years ahead. Considering the pivotal role of environmental education for the sustainable development, the Government of Georgia embarked on a mission to think afresh about the environmental challenges and the most effective ways of incorporating EE in the overall educational system of Georgia. Having the achievement of long-term and lasting results for the environmental sustainability in mind, Georgia launched diverse initiatives that were translated into changes on the policy level or knowledge acquisition as well as on societal attitudes and behaviors toward the natural environment.

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Global and National History Georgia has a long history supporting EE. Elaborated at the 1977 International Conference on Environmental Education (ICEE) in Tbilisi, Georgia, organized by UNESCO in partnership with UNEP, the Tbilisi Declaration defined main essence and goals of and established a framework for formal, nonformal and informal environmental education activities at the local, national, and international levels. Tbilisi Declaration laid the foundation also for teaching approaches and methodological tools on which EE had to be built on through the setting up 5 major objectives.

Awareness

•Help social groups and individuals acquire an awareness and sensitivity to the total environment and its allied problems.

•Help social groups and individuals gain a variety of experience in, and acquire a basic understanding of, the environment and its associated problems. Knowledge

Attitudes

•Help social groups and individuals acquire a set of values and feelings of concern for the environment and the motivation to actively participate in environmental improvement and protection.

•Help social groups and individuals acquire the skills to identify and solve environmental problems. Skills

Participation

•Provide social groups and individuals with an opportunity to be actively involved at all levels in working toward resolution of environmental problems.

Remarkably, Tbilisi Declaration provided fundamental principles for the proposals in “Agenda 21” and a set of other documents and global initiatives that followed.

EE should constitute for ALL ages

EE should be community oriented

Be a Lifelong Be a Lifelong processprocess

Give Understanding of the world problems and SKILLS needed

Consder environment in totality

EE shoudl be INTERDISCIPLIN ARY

Attention to the relationships and interdependenc e of politics, economics, and the environment.

EE should deveop critical thinking and problem solving skills

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EE in National Curriculum of Georgia EE is well reflected on the national platform. The content and appropriate learning outcomes related to environmental education, methods of teaching and workload of instruction in general education level are defined by two overarching document elaborated by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia (MoES) – National Goals of General Education and National Curriculum (current National Curriculum 2011-2016 was adopted last year). In 2002, President of Georgia issued a “Decree on the State Program of Ecological Education.” According to the Decree, the MoES is major responsible state body for incorporating EE in formal education system of the country. Following the above mentioned decision, since 2004 the MoES started to put efforts in order to foster integration of EE into different subject areas, including the science, geography, economics, and social studies at elementary and basic education levels. The post-reform curricula (both preschool and general school) with the focus on learning outcomes rather than inputs has taken a cross curricular approach to Environmental education aiming at “ecological education” as one of the nine “priority competencies” the curriculum was devised to develop and incorporating EE related learning outcomes in different subject blocs. The environmental issues are well supported by illustrations in textbooks, that help students to comprehend and understand natural environmental issues and challenges more easily and in an effective way. It is noteworthy, that later on a new course in disaster risk reduction (DRR) has been developed and introduced at schools in Georgia. Learning materials for school children and teachers, along with educational games and childfriendly posters have been developed. Head teachers from selected pilot schools have been trained. And Disaster Management Boards have been established (MoES, 2012).

“Of course it was terrifying,” said Tornike, standing in front of the ruins of his home, the surge of silt and rubble deposited by the flood, half submerging the structure. “I opened the door and saw the water level rising so quickly. I had never experienced anything like it before.” 15 years old Tornike was asleep in bed, when a massive landslide inundated his house (UNICEF Georgia, 2012)

In 2012, in the framework of the “Supporting Disaster Risk Reduction amongst Vulnerable Communities and Institutions in Southern Caucasus” project, the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and UNICEF and the European Commission have developed the textbook „Teaching Disaster Risk Reduction with Interactive Methods – Book for head Class Teachers.” (http://www.preventionweb.net/files/22730_22730headteachersguideengncac1.pdf) Furthermore, the national curriculum for 2011 – 2016 created several new in-depth/ ESD-enriched courses in ESD-related topics for the 10th through 12th forms. 1. Natural hazards and global disaster trends 2. Natural hazards and their prevalence in Georgia 3. Natural hazards characteristic to Georgia: definitions, cause‐and‐effect relationships, prevention / mitigation measures, rules of behavior before, during and after disasters 4. Natural hazards on the global level: High winds (cyclones, typhoons, hurricanes) 5. Dealing with distress and trauma caused by disasters 6. Developing the concept of volunteerism among students

7. Concepts of working with parents / community involvement and awareness raising

Specific areas of DRR course introduced at schools(MoES, 2012)

in disaster risk reduction

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The EESD Strategy and Action Plan The Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia (MoEP) as the major responsible governmental body for the protection of natural environment has officially declared 2012 as “Environmental Education Year.” Therefore, the MoEP is intending to celebrate 2012 by extensive and multifaceted EE agenda, most remarkably, by adoption of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development: Georgian National Strategy and Action Plan 2012 – 2014 (EESD). The Georgian National Strategy and Action Plan on Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (2012-2014) initiated by the Government in 2012 is in line with the four objectives of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development: a) providing and increasing quality education, b) reorienting all levels of formal education toward sustainable development, c) increasing public awareness, d) providing practical training across all professional sectors. EESD envisions a “Georgia in which prosperity, environmental sustainability, and social equality in all forms coexist and mutually reinforce each other” and aims to “ensure that EE in Georgia provides all Georgian citizens with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary to live sustainably and foster environmentally responsible changes in society.” In accordance to the above-stated vision and goal, EESD sets the following three national OBJECTIVES:

EESD Strategy Objectives

Strengthening the EE GOVERNANCE

Raising the PROFILE of EE in formal, non-formal, and informal education

Fostering NETWORKING and improved stakeholder COORDINATION

The strategy development process was participatory and provides framework for consolidated and coordinated action by all EE stakeholders. The strategy will be implemented through a clearing house mechanism (CHM) comprised of representatives from national and international partners, with MoEP serving as the focal point.

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Some Best Practices and the Way Forward Eco-clubs Initiative – Greening Schools: To support the effective implementation of EE curricula into the classroom and achieve the respective behavior change among schoolteachers, students, their families and communities at large, EESD promotes the Eco-club Initiative. The Eco-club Initiative will cover comprehensive activities ranging from training teachers in EE competencies and provision of appropriate EE materials, to helping children implement community EE projects and celebrate successes with their peers. This initiative along with other non-formal educational and extra-curriculum activities aims at fostering incorporation of EE in the education sector in a more effective way.

In October 2010 USAID Caucasus office launched a multi-component program: “Integrated Natural Resources Management in Watersheds of Georgia”. The primary goal of the program is: to improve the current and future lives of people in Georgia by utilizing and managing natural resources more sustainably, including water, soil, vegetation, and the ecosystem that encompass them. The program is implemented by a consortium of international and local organizations lead by Florida International University (FIU) in a partnership with, CARE International, Winrock International, Caucasus Environmental NGOs’ Network (CENN) and UNESCO-IHE Institute of Water Education. One of the program activities to be implemented by CARE envisages setting up and supporting school based eco/nature clubs in the, which will serve to raise awareness about environmental concerns in the community, and to carry out short term actions and medium term observations on key local environmental concerns. In total, CARE will negotiate with 35 schools in targeted communities to establish eco clubs. An initial grant of $2,500 per club will be used to purchase environmental measurement equipment (chemistry sets, microscopes, cameras).

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Campaigning Green: Informal EE is also one of the major priorities of both – Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia and Ministry of Environment Protection. Several green campaigns (including cleaning, planting, bird-watching, red list campaigns) have been conducted to promote the understanding of the interdependence between the environment and human activities. Through these activities, children and youth in particular acquired knowledge and skills for the real change toward the living sustainably with the natural environment. At the same time, these initiatives helped the society at large to realize and acknowledge that environmental challenges are mostly results of the human action and abuse toward the environment where we all live. Green awareness has been further promoted through media, including television, social media and the radio (Green Broadcast, GeoGuide, Ecometer). The aim of EESD is to reshape, scale up these campaigns to reach out to diverse communities so that to get tangible results in terms of changing behavior, values and attitudes toward the environment. Green Club "Green Club" of the Ministry of Environment Protection of Georgia is joined by hundreds of young people. They are students from different universities. The first meeting of the club members was hold at International Volunteer Day at the action "Polyethylene - Enemy for Nature" on 5 December (International Volunteer Day is celebrated in many countries all over the world according to decision of UN Assembly since 1985. Millions of volunteers take place actions that are in compliance with this day) (MoEP, 2012). Agency of Protected Areas’ Eco-education – Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Citizenship The Junior Rangers Program is one of APA’s educational activities aimed at providing school children with information about wildlife and conservation, while stimulating thinking and action for protection of Georgia’s green heritage. The program takes teaching out of the classroom and encompasses various activities, including tours, camps and workshops. APA plans to enlarge its educational portfolio by providing more educational services to wide range of target groups. Green skills: Greening Higher and Vocational Curricula EESD targets incorporation of EE in wide range of specializations at higher and vocational education. Green collar jobs are in high demand on the global market. Training green skilled labor will further green economy and sustainable development in Georgia.

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School Project for Application of Resources and Energy (SPARE)

School Project for Application of Resources and Energy (SPARE) has been implemented in Georgia since 2002. The main goal of the project is to teach the principles of natural resources saving and energy efficiency in schools and society. The project is executed by Norges Naturvernforbund/Friends of the Earth Norway in more than 20 countries with financial support Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ECOVISION - the Union for Sustainable Development acts as national coordinator of SPARE in Georgia. School manuals and work-books, environmental games, posters, brochures and other information materials are published and distributed in 300 Georgian schools under the SPARE. Since 2002, 70 seminars have been held in various regions of Georgia directly for school teachers. About 500 teachers have been undergone the training about modern methods of teaching the issues of climate change, energy and natural resource saving and energy efficiency in schools. About 30 Eco-clubs are actively involved in SPARE practical energy projects. With support of senior pupils, teachers and parents, heat insulation of buildings, repair of windows, changing of blazing bulbs with energy saving ones, installation of energy saving wood stoves are done. Simple energy audit is usually carried out in the classrooms before and after energy project. SPARE quizzes, international competitions, school conferences and painting exhibitions are organized annually within the framework of SPARE in Georgia. Monthly environmental magazine for kids - POPcorn has been established under the SPARE. The main topics of the magazine is how to maintain clean environment on the earth, teach children what pollutes the nature and what dangers are threatened to their health, how to use energy and natural resources. Significant part of the magazine is dedicated to popularization of healthy lifestyle among children (http://www.spareworld.org/eng/georgia).

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EE in Georgia