Environmental training is one of the most important means to develop human resources and facilitate the transition to a more sustainable world. “It should have a job-specific focus, aimed at filling gaps in knowledge and skill, and would help individuals find employment and be involved in environmental and developmental work. At the same time, training programmes should promote a greater awareness of the environment and development issues as a two-way learning process”.

Types of Training

Teachers in Formal Education
In a large number of countries in the region, teacher-training programmes at both pre-service and in-service levels have incorporated elements of environmental education. In general, governments of most the Asian and Pacific Region are responsible for training teachers in formal environmental education. In Malaysia, the establishment of National Institute for Environmental Skill and Training (IKLAS) is an important step forward for the Department of Environment to equip its own personnel, as well as staff of other related government agencies and private sector, with the knowledge and skills for pollution control and sound environmental management. The IKLAS is expected to be operational by the year 2001 (Malaysia Environmental Quality Report 1996). Similarly, in Thailand, the Ministry of Education has trained teachers, administrators, educational planners, and non-formal educators. In Sri Lanka, March for Conservation, a university-based NGO, has designed modules for introducing environmental concepts to primary and secondary teachers, and conducts short-term training programmes for teachers.

Regionally, initiatives for training teachers focus mainly on material development and training of trainers. Learning for a Sustainable Environment: Innovation in Teacher Education through Environmental Education Project is a joint undertaking of UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Centre for Educational Innovation for Development (ACEID) and Australia’s Griffith University. This long-term project seeks to expand the range of innovative practices used in teaching education programmes by introducing teachers and teachers-in-training to the curriculum planning skills and teaching methodologies of environmental education.

Practitioners of Non-Formal Education

Training for the practitioners of non-formal education is less systematic in most countries, and on the whole fewer opportunities exist. This is partly due to the enormous diversity of professional backgrounds of the individuals engaged in non-formal environmental education activities. Most non-formal education activities are designed and carried out by NGOs or community organizations, whose large numbers and wide geographical spread makes it difficult to expose them to centralized and long-term training programmes. More effective in their case are short-term refresher courses and skills development seminars and workshops.

The Indian Centre for Environmental Education, offers a training Programme in Environmental Education for Indian and overseas participants and introduces various approaches and methods in communicating environmental messages to different target groups. The CEE in cooperation with IUCN and WWF also offers a Certificate Course in Environment Education (CCEE) as a means of in-service training for professionals already engaged in environmental education work. The Centre for Environmental Concerns (CEC) in the Philippines, offer a course that includes elements of community-based rehabilitation technology, community-based environmental monitoring, and participatory approaches to environmental education.

Training Media Professionals

Training and sensitising journalists on different aspects of the environment remain urgent needs in most countries of the region where the standards of environmental reporting are low. Even journalists and broadcast producers who are well trained in their craft face new challenges in reporting on issues related to environment and sustainable development. The technical nature of most environmental issues requires the ability to grasp these technicalities and then to interpret these in layman’s terms. Many environmental stories involve the assessment of risks and the weighing of costs and benefits, all of which require experience, skill and a strong sense of balance in journalists.

In spite of a decade of heightened interest in environmental journalism in the region, the formal training courses and curricular for journalists in many countries do not as yet pay sufficient attention to the specialized needs of environmental journalism. However, some national forums of environmental journalists regularly organize short training activities, including workshops, seminars conferences etc., for the benefit of their members and other environmental journalists. The national forums in Bangladesh, People’s Republic of China, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka have been particularly active in this respect.

At a regional level, several initiatives are noteworthy. UNEP has conducted several workshops, seminars and training programmes under its Environmental, Communication and Information Strategy for Asia and the Pacific (1995-2000). A high-level meeting was held in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, in 1996 that brought together editors and managers from leading publications in the region to discuss how to boost environment related coverage in the media. Parallel to this, training workshops were organized for environmental journalists drawn from several countries in the region.

Specialized and Technical Training

The number of specialized training programmes at country and regional levels has increased since the 1990s, a reflection of the greater market demand for specialized environmental skills and environmental managers. Traditional areas of environment related specialized training includes protected area management, environmental quality monitoring and environmental information systems. Relatively new areas of training include, environmental economics, environmental impact assessment (EIA) and in the adoption and implementation of environmental standards, especially the ISO 14000 series. In Malaysia, for instance, universities have worked with experts from the SIRIM Industry Standards Committee on the Environment to produce both training materials and training modules for ISO 14000 implementation.

Training activities are also conducted by some of the larger and well-established NGOs working nationally or regionally. For example, the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), based in New Delhi, India, regularly organizes national and regional level training courses and programmes on occupational and environmental health.
SOURCE: Trends in Environment Education

The author of this article is Asst. Professor, Pioneer Institute of Professional Studies, Indore

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