Environmental Education key to ecological sustainability

Environmental Education can help us reverse some of the current ecological problems, said Prof Chris Reddy of the Faculty of Education at Stellenbosch University (SU) in his inaugural lecture in SU’s GG Cillié Building on Tuesday (13 September).

According to Reddy, Environmental Education is one of the social agencies through which the transformation to an ecologically sustainable society can be achieved. It can be considered one of the responses to the current environmental crisis.

Even though Environmental Education has been included in formal curricula, its implementation leaves much to be desired, said Reddy. Many institutions have been left wanting in terms of the introduction of Environmental Education into teacher education programmes.

Proff Magda Fourie-Malherbe, Vice-rector: Teaching, Chris Reddy and Waghid Yusef, Dean of Faculty of Education, at the inaugural lecture. (Photo: Mariana Vermeulen)

Reddy mentioned that many teachers lack the capacity to implement Environmental Education in the curriculum because they have not been introduced to this discipline in their own teacher education or further study.

“It is important to give teachers the opportunity for further education and training so that they can implement Environmental Education better in schools.”

Reddy referred to the Environmental Education Programme University of Stellenbosch (EEPUS) which promotes Environmental Education and the professional development of teachers.

Teacher development programmes should be meaningful and give certain competencies to teachers, he said.

We still have to learn a lot about environmental education and since the continued existence of humankind is at stake, it is vital that this be set right, Reddy argued.

“However, Environmental Education as a curriculum process and professional development for Environmental Education are complex processes that require commitment, skill and expertise.”

If educational professionals were to accept this complexity, Environmental Education would be more responsive to the real needs of the environment and also help to improve social, economic, political and biophysical conditions, said Reddy.