Environmental Education and Training
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt of India

Shri BMS Rathore, IFS is the Joint Secretary in charge of the EE Division of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. This Division supports one of the largest, if not the largest, school-based non formal Environmental Education programme in the world, the National Green Corps. Shri Rathore shares the vision of the EE Division for the coming years in an interview with Sanskriti Menon, Editor, Education for Change.

What are some of the signifi cant achievements of the EE Division?

The National Green Corps (NGC) and the National Environmental Awareness Campaign (NEAC) have been two massive outreach programmes. Over 10,000 organizations participate every year in the NEAC for awareness on different themes and the NGC engages about 100,000 school eco clubs every year in co curricular activities. These two schemes provide a huge platform which we can use for moving into much more well coordinated actions for environmental improvement and conservation. 

The two centres of excellence – CP Ramaswamy Environment Education Centre and the Centre for Environment Education – which are supported by the MoEF have been doing considerable innovative work in diverse fields in a locale specific manner. Their work ranges from sacred groves and natural heritage conservation to working with industries, urban and rural communities, youth etc. The combined efforts through the NEAC, NGC, and the centres of excellence, the Resource Agencies for NGC and the State Nodal Agencies result in outreach to several lakh people every year.

What is the vision of the EE Division for the coming years? 

An appraisal of the Environment Education, Awareness and Training Scheme of the MoEF was done recently. Using the inputs from this appraisal, we have put together a new strategy in which the EE Division aims to work closely not only with other divisions within the MoEF but also with other ministries, such as Ministry of Human Resource Development, NCERT, Urban Development, Energy and others.

As we move into the 12th Plan period, the EE Division will be taking the lead to reach out to them. The idea is to make communication and education an integral part of the programmes in these sectors. 

The other aspect is the need to significantly scale up the reach of the EE Division’s programmes. While the outreach of NEAC, NGC etc is quite large, the section they don’t reach is much larger. The Planning Commission is also supportive of the idea of enhancing the coverage of EE programmes. 

We are also seeing a very important role of EE in the implementation of the Green India Mission, which is one of the missions under India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change. The implementation of the Green India Mission will start soon, as we move into the 12th Plan period. 

What is the role of MoEF in facilitating EE with MHRD and NCERT?

There has been progress made by MHRD in making EE part of the curriculum. Following the National Curriculum Framework 2005, the NCERT has advocated the infusion approach which the Supreme Court has accepted. The preparation of a syllabus for EE and other materials in the last seven eight years have helped. However, MoEF believes that infusion alone will not be enough. It is not a question of either infusion or separate subject; in fact we should certainly have infusion and all subjects must reflect environment and sustainability concerns. But it is essential to also have a separate time and space in the time-table where the learnings from different core subjects are brought together and environmental understanding can be synthesized. MoEF is taking this very seriously at the Ministerial level and has initiated high level discussions with MHRD.

The MoEF has in fact contributed to the evolution of this thinking.Through the Environmental Education in the School System (EESS) project implemented by the MoEF from 1998 till 2003, for which CEE was the national consultant, a detailed study of the nature of infusion was done by BVIEER and other partners. This was followed by an initiative with 15 states for preparation of textbooks with infused EE content. The capabilities and experience developed in the centres of excellence and other partners should be very useful in further evolving the approaches for school-based Environment Education. The NGC experience of course can offer many learnings and case studies for project-based learning which the NCERT is advocating. We see a lot of synergy between the efforts of the MoEF and MHRD for EE. 

What about support for EE and ESD research? 

Now, with the greater understanding that the recent appraisal of the EE scheme of the MoEF has given us, as well as recommendation of working groups that Ministry had set up to provide further impetus to EE, we do hope to put in place some research on EE and ESD. This will be especially important as we align the work of the EE Division with that of other divisions of the MoEF and other Ministries. 

EE and ESD programmes need to be designed carefully to lead to transformation of society and so it is important that we are able to see what is working, what the barriers are, etc. Such research can also help identify systemic difficulties in programme implementation, which can be a valuable contribution in our development strategies. The view about EE that it is for ‘beneficiaries’ also has to change, it is important for all segments of society.

Areas of Work of MoEF’s EE Division

The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India’s environmental and forestry policies and programmes. The primary concerns of the Ministry are implementation of policies and programmes relating to conservation of the country’s natural resources including its lakes and rivers, its biodiversity, forests and wildlife, ensuring the welfare of animals, and the prevention and abatement of pollution. While implementing these policies and programmes, the Ministry is guided by the principle of sustainable development and enhancement of human well-being. The broad objectives of the Ministry are:
      Conservation and survey of flora, fauna, forests and wildlife
      Prevention and control of pollution
      Afforestation and regeneration of degraded areas
      Protection of the environment and
      Ensuring the welfare of animals

The Environment Education Division or EE Division of the MoEF has the following objectives:

o   Development of educational/teaching materials and aids in the formal 
o   education sector
o   To encourage non-governmental organisations, mass media and other concerned organizations for promoting awareness among the people at all levels
o   To promote environment education through existing educational/scientific/
o   research institutions
o   To ensure training and manpower development in environment education; and
o   To mobilise people’s awareness for the preservation and conservation of 

The programmes conducted/initiatives launched as part of this scheme are categorised under Formal and Non-Formal sectors. Programmes under Formal Environmental Education are:
      Environment Education in School System
      Environmental Appreciation Courses
      Environmental concepts in Management and Business Studies

Programmes under Non-Formal Environmental Education are:
            National Environment Awareness Campaign (NEAC)
            Eco-clubs (NGC)
            Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE)
            Mass Awareness

For more details on these programmes, schemes and guidelines, please visit the webpage on the EE Division http://moef.nic.in/modules/divisions/ee/ 

For further information, please contact: 

Environment Education Ministry of Environment & Forests,
Government of India Paryavaran Bhawan,
CGO Complex, Lodi Road New Delhi - 110 003
Phone: +91-11-24367664, 24364593

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