By Cristián Frers
Environmental education is a training process that allows awareness of the importance of the environment, promotes in citizens the development of values and new attitudes that contribute to the rational use of natural resources and the solution of environmental problems that we face in cities and in rural areas. This education is a philosophy of life that entails respect for other forms of life, human rights and should be a state policy.
Environmental problems no longer appear independent of each other, but rather constitute elements that are related to each other, configuring a reality different from the simple accumulation of all of them. For this reason, today we can talk about something more than simple environmental problems, we are facing a real environmental crisis and the severity of the crisis is manifested in its local, national or global nature.
Environmental education is key to understanding the relationships between natural and social systems, as well as to achieving a clearer perception of the importance of socio-cultural factors in the origins of environmental problems. Along these lines, it must promote the acquisition of awareness, values and behaviors that favor the effective participation of the population in the decision-making process. Environmental education understood in this way can and should be a strategic factor that affects the established development model to reorient it towards sustainability and equity.
This education, rather than being limited to a specific aspect of the educational process, must become a privileged basis for developing a new lifestyle. For this, environmental education programs should be included in planning and general policies, developed through effective social participation. These educational processes must be integrated with management and not be used as a justification for its possible deficiencies.
Beyond traditional education, that is, the simple fact of imparting knowledge, environmental education relates man with his environment, with his surroundings and seeks a change in attitude, an awareness of the importance of conserving for the future and to improve our quality of life.
At school, activities can be developed to maintain the educational infrastructure, educate children and young people on the importance of the rational use and conservation of resources, involve the educational community to actively participate in environmental activities promoted by the school .
Today, many of what is called environmental education has nothing of education or environmental. It can simply be considered green propaganda, due to the trivialization of environmental concepts in many educational settings.
All of us who go out to find a school or kindergarten for our children have been offered services such as: "Ecological Minihuerto", "Recycling Classes" and "Ecology Rooms". Upon entering, the mini-garden is a pot with a tomato and a cage with parrots next to it… No one denies how exciting it can be to see a tomato plant grow, but ecology and environmental education are something else, not necessarily serious and boring.
To find a life in harmony with the environment, the first thing that must be done is to obtain a population aware of its belonging to everything that surrounds it. People must be educated from childhood so that they learn the necessary care not to waste the planet's resources, to avoid dirtying their environment and to live with their neighbor.