Action programme for environmental education in teacher training
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Assembly debate
on 1 February 1995 (5th Sitting) (see Doc. 7189, report of the Committee
on Culture and Education, rapporteur: Mrs Ryynänen; and Doc. 7221, opinion
of the Committee on the Environment, Regional Planning and Local
Authorities, rapporteur: Mrs Robert). Text adopted by the Assembly
on 1 February 1995 (5th Sitting).
1 Europe has created a way of life,
greatly dependent on scientific and technological progress, which
is now at the limits of its ecological sustainability. Questions
are being asked about the viability and the wisdom of unrestrained
progressive development. At the same time, the European lifestyle
represents for many a desirable model of development. Europe has
to be made aware of its responsibility for the creation of economic practices,
models for living and infrastructures based on an understanding
of what ecological stewardship requires.
2 The most serious environmental risks and threats menace the
future of Europe and the globe. The challenges of climate change
and transfrontier waste, the mechanical manipulation of soil, the
acidification and pollution of soil, oceans and fresh waters as
well as the exhaustion of natural resources and the disappearance of
species of animals and plants need to be dealt with in teacher training.
3 Environmental problems are caused by human beings and can
be corrected by human beings. Environmental education is the key
to a better relationship with nature and the use of natural resources. Teacher
training is in its turn the key to success in implementing environmental
4 Each child has the right to be educated in a positive spirit
as a potential agent for the betterment of the overall environment.
Too often environmental education portrays a scenario of unsolvable
or unavoidable threats.
5 Environmental education and awareness-raising must be part
of a community-based approach to the problems, under which there
must be a collective acceptance of responsibility for the state
of the environment, in addition to individual responsibility.
6 Environmental education must moreover be thought out afresh
and re-constructed to include a system of value education and moral
responsibility which challenges those wider frames of thinking and
behaviour - scientific, technological, economic, social, political
and cultural - that reduce the natural world to nothing more than
a resource to be plundered for short-term consumption.
7 The concept of environmental education has broadened from
protection of the natural environment to that of the historical
and cultural heritage; it has now widened to include the notions
of active ecological citizenship and sustainable development. This
development has to be reflected in teacher training.
8 Moreover, given the experience already gained in the field,
it is essential not only to offer the individuals concerned the
knowledge and skills needed for implementing environmental education
projects, but also to make them aware of - and thus able to deal
with and overcome - the obstacles they may encounter when carrying
out such projects.
9 The best environmental education programmes are visionary
in concept and participatory in practice. Imaginative, innovatory
techniques and teaching skills need to be created and developed.
Daily life in teacher-training institutions can be changed to reflect
a more enlightened ecological perspective and so provide a context
for pedagogical change.
The importance of environmental education and of teacher training
in this field has been regularly recognised in international fora
from the initial conference held in Tbilisi (Georgia) in 1977 to
the new action plan for Nordic school co-operation adopted by the
Nordic Ministers of Education in 1993. Council of Europe texts include
the Committee of Ministers' Resolution (71) 14 and Recommendation
No. R (91) 8 and the Assembly's Recommendation 937 (1982)
. The proposals
contained in these texts are, however, still far from being put
11 The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers launch
an action programme for environmental education in teacher training.
The main objectives of the action programme should be:
i to learn more about the potential
of environmental education for furthering sustainable development;
ii to collect examples of successful programmes in environmental
education through teacher training;
iii to develop awareness of society's collective responsibility
in which all citizens have differing but specific roles to play
in a community-based approach to protecting the environment, and
to teach the target groups how to manage and exploit the skills
iv to develop practical strategies for overcoming barriers
to the successful implementation of environmental education through
teacher training; and to this end, also to train teachers to identify,
deal with and overcome the political, administrative and institutional
obstacles that often undermine the effectiveness of even the best
v to draw up guidelines on how to include the environmental
dimension in teacher training in general;
vi to develop, test and disseminate practical adaptations
(programmes, courses, modules, credits, study weeks) of the principles
generated by participants in the action programme;
vii to create and strengthen networks of environmental educators
13 The action programme should seek to identify promising developments
in educational practice, curricula and teacher training.
14 It should also serve as an invitation to all kinds of teacher
training institutions to intensify their efforts for the promotion
of environmental education. Teachers in kindergartens, primary and
secondary schools, vocational institutes, technical or adult institutes
should be encouraged to include environmental education in teacher
training programmes and to improve its quality.
15 Teacher training institutions should also be invited to submit
sub-programmes to the action programme. They should inform the Council
of Europe of the successful programmes they have organised in environmental education.
16 It is also essential to co-ordinate the various programmes
carried out by the European Union, OECD, Unesco and the Nordic and
Baltic Councils of Ministers and by non-governmental organisations
(such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature or the World Conservation
Union) and to make sure that the action programme – while being
aimed primarily at central and east European countries – fits into
both this range of activities and the Council of Europe's contribution
to European Nature Conservation Year 1995.