Education paves the way for sustainable future

Pupils of Primary 3F of Fairfield Methodist School learnt songs and poems about the Earth, recited a pledge and even made costumes from garbage bags and recycled material.
Pupils of Primary 3F of Fairfield Methodist School learnt songs and poems about the Earth, recited a pledge and even made costumes from garbage bags and recycled material. PHOTO: ST FILE

It is heartening to see that a member of the public is concerned about the environmental future of Singapore and acknowledged what was done right to "(build) up this nation without depriving nature of its space altogether" ("Keep fine balance between nature and urbanisation" by Mr Manoraj Rajathurai; last Friday).

The letter also mentioned the need to "bring in schools and children, and make them realise what needs to be done, if we are not to lose our natural heritage".

I applaud governmental efforts in promoting environmental sustainability in Singapore through education.

First, environmental education, be it water conservation or recycling, is incorporated into the formal curriculum, in subjects such as science, social studies and geography. This is unlike the education systems in other countries.

Next, informal education, such as field trips to incinerator plants and to the Semakau landfill, are carried out by governmental agencies, such as the National Environment Agency, to allow students to learn more about waste management.

Furthermore, there are many "green"-themed events and competitions that are hosted by various private companies, such as the Green Wave environmental care project hosted by Sembcorp Marine, which encourages students to come up with innovative approaches to solve environmental problems.

Also, there are many schools collaborating with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in the Eco-Schools Programme to strive to make environmental sustainability an integral part of school life.

Just like how Character and Citizenship Education is compulsory for primary and secondary schools, environmental education has also been incorporated into formal education.

It would be really great to see this extend beyond primary and secondary schools, to tertiary education as well.

For instance, an environmental education module may be added to the current general education programme at local universities.

Education in Singapore provides our future generation with endless possibilities towards an environmentally sustainable future.

Yan Aik Teck

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2015, with the headline 'Education paves the way for sustainable future'. Print Edition | Subscribe