Environment Education at the Higher Secondary Stage in Maharashtra

Maharashtra is one of the first states in the country to take up in letter and spirit the Supreme Court guideline of making Environmental Education a compulsory subject in schools from Classes I to XII. 

Savita Bharti, Education for Change speaks to Dr Shivaji Shelke, Research Officer, Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education to know more.

In what way has Maharashtra taken up the Supreme Court directives? 
In Maharashtra we have decided to introduce Environment Education as a separate subject with a weightage of 50 marks. This is because there is no subject common to all the streams. The subject EE is assessed at the school level in the manner recommended by the Supreme Court, through projects and seminars. In addition, we have introduced the idea of Journal Assignments as an alternative to seminars to make learning and assessment more feasible in very large class sizes. The student’s attainment out of 50 marks is to be carried on the marksheet and will be added to the grand total to compute the percentage. This, we hope, will help students, teachers and parents to take the course more seriously, as we realized that awarding grades was not a very effective way in this respect.

Maharashtra is the first state that has made it compulsory to mark the subject. A child has to clear the exam in order to go to a higher grade. The subject was introduced in Standard XI in the academic year 2012-13. It will be introduced in Standard XII in the academic year 2013-14.

Special textbooks have been prepared for the EE course by the MSBSHSE, through its Board of Studies. The textbooks are based on the Handbook for Environment Education developed by NCERT. Our Board of Studies has taken great efforts to take the concepts presented in the NCERT handbook and to convert them into activities, case studies, assignments and illustrations which would be interesting for students.

Initially, in the 2005-2012 phase, we had introduced the subject as a separate and compulsory one at Standard IX to XII level. Now, the infusion approach is adopted till Standard X. The turning point for the new improved implementation of EE in Maharashtra has been the adoption of the State Curriculum Framework and a workshop we organized with Dr Jaishree Sharma from NCERT who clarified the NCERT Affidavit and the Supreme Court’s latest directives. All this has been possible because of the efforts of the Board of Studies for EE and ultimately the support from the Education Dept.

What has been the response?
The 11th std textbook that was introduced last year is very well received by people as evident from the feedbacks I receive. The responses otherwise have been very encouraging. The contents, projects and activities are much appreciated. It is used not only by Standard XI students, but also by students preparing for civil services and other entrance exams.

What about teacher preparation and training?
For in-service training, a two-day state level Master Trainers’ training is planned in April 2013. The master trainers will subsequently conduct training at district level.

The State Government has taken the view that anyone can teach the subject. Now we are considering that EE should be taught only by teachers who have had training in Environment Education or Environment Science. 

Currently, the BEd course does not have a place for training on EE. We are suggesting that content and methods related to EE be introduced in B Ed itself. Without BEd a person cannot be a qualified teacher. Likewise with no knowledge of Environment Studies there cannot be a qualified EVS teacher. Even DEd teachers are now taking graduate courses in environment studies. We may also think about a certificate course in EE in the future.

What kind of projects are students taking up?
At school level, students have to take up projects in different subjects. The emphasis after introduction of EE has been more on environment related projects. Almost 80-90 percent of the projects now are taken in the environmental field. Children are more interested in action oriented projects, such as related to school waste management, keeping the toilets clean, places where there were less or no toilets now demands are coming for these to be part of the school infrastructures, more greening in the school campuses, construction of soak pits to take care of waste water and ensure excess water percolates in the ground etc.

To ensure that duplication does not happen, the projects are submitted to the Board. The school is expected to maintain a record of the projects done by students.

For a big project, a group of students may work together and for smaller projects students can work individually. 

Our Board of Studies also practices what it teaches so we have also taken up small actions at our campus - we don’t drink tea in plastic glasses anymore. At their recommendation, we have planted many trees all around our campus.

For more information contact:
Dr Shivaji Shelke
Research Officer
Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and
Higher Secondary Education
Survey No 832 A, Final Plot No 178 & 179
Bhambhurda, Shivajinagar, Pune 411 004
Ph: 020 25705000

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