Iranian Department of Environment Protection is developing a plan to incorporate environmental concepts in school curricula acros the country in cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
In a joint memorandum signed by the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Education, 56 thousand teachers will be trained under supervision of the Department of Environment Protection and empowered to deliver the fundamental concepts of environmental protection in simple and attractive forms in schools all across the country. According to Director of education and public participation of the environment department in the first phase of the project, 2000 teachers will be trained and given the role of environmental facilitators in country's schools.
Mohammad Darvish told ISNA on March 27 that the newly trained teachers will begin implementing the concepts in the elementary and middle schools at the beginning of the 2014 academic year. He added that the project aims at increasing the ecological knowledge of students and communicating a sense of responsibility for the environment.
This training includes the recognition of the natural and human environment, natural landscape of each province, unique features of Iran and Asia, degree of fragility of each ecosystem as well as appropriate modes of interaction with nature. The project also promotes use of new forms of renewable energy, conservation of energy in schools and reduction of paper usage by encouraging use of electronic systems and the internet.
History of Teaching Environmental Concepts in Iranian Schoola
Teaching environmental concepts to students has never been implemented in a systematic and nationwide form in Iran. In recent years some limited efforts have been made in a number of schools which have been projects undertaken by volunteers through initiatives of particular principles, parent councils or teachers.
Recently the Department of Environment and the ministry of education collaborated in providing 300 students at a tribal school in Shimbar with instruction regarding value of water resources and environmental degradation. In Miandoab schools faculty devised a short course introducing students to environmental issues. In Shahroud a similar initiative by school faculty provided students with environment protection concepts. In Tehran a number of environment experts have provided basic instruction in environmental concepts on a volunteer basis to students at a number of schools.
However so far there had never been a formulated curriculum providing instructional texts and trained teachers for teaching of environmental issues by the Ministry of Education for schools all across the country.
Iran’s Environmental Performance Index in Freefall
The Department of Environmental Protection has focused on the teaching of fundamental environment concepts in schools as an effective way to improve the country’s environmental performance. Environment experts are hoping that education would lead to a rise in public awareness and greater participation of citizens in the protection of the environment.
Environmental education in early stages of school has become more critical in Iran as the country is faced with a countrywide crisis in all aspects of its environmental performance. The latest Yale University assessments ranks Iran’s Environmental Performance index at the 83rd spot amongst 178 countries across the world and according to Iran’s head of Department of Environment the country’s EPI has been in a freefall in recent years.