THE CROAK is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial.

Educating the next generation : Closer to Nature?

Education is a transfer of knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation. It happens instinctively in all living beings from parents to offspring. But at what point does an education system, becomes self serving and more focussed on creating a work force rather than healthy and happy individuals?

This Sunday, we are going to  look at the National Education Policy  2020 - and how the changes in our education policy is going to affect our relationships with Nature. To lead us into the discussion we have with Kartikeya Sarabhai, a reknowned environment educator and the founder of the Centre for Environment Education. 

Learning from Nature

In one of the Vedic texts, the Chandogya Upanishad, there is a story about a young boy called Satyakama Jabala, who was intent in learning about the nature of reality. His Guru, Sage Gautama, sends him away with a herd of cows and asks him to return to the gurukula when the cows have multiplied to a thousand. In the course of this adventure, Satyakama learns directly from the natural elements and the animals and by the time he returns to his teacher, he has had a direct clear experience and understanding of the nature of Nature itself. 

This story illustrates clearly, that Nature is the final source of all learning. 

Teaching, Learning and Unfoldment

In recent times, there has been a growing realisation among people that institutional education is not adequate in unfolding the full potential of a child. In Pune itself, many families have chosen to either home school or completely unschool their children, even at the risk of difficulty in reintegrating into mainstream at a later stage. 

'Schooling' often instills fear of judgement, creates unhealthy competition and has led young children even to suicide. Further, the mainstream system of education is mainly focussed on the productivity of a human being, rather than self knowledge.

It concretises the belief in humanity, that we are different from Nature and in most senses superior to all other living beings. That our own well being lies in our capacity to compete, to conquer and to use. How do we reverse this mis conception? 

Educating a Nation

The National Education Policy 2020 is an effort by the government to develop Indian into a global knowledge super power. The system of education established by the British, and continued by Indian governments has been in need of reforms for a while. This is the third time it is being revised, the first two times being in 1968 and 1986. Here are some of the highlights of the policy:

1. Pre school education - reducing the age at which a child enters an institution 

2. Changing the 10 + 2 format into 5 + 3 + 3 + 4 format - from 3 to 8 yrs - will be a foundational learning for 5 years, followed by a preparatory school for 8 - 11 yrs kids from class 3 to class 5 -  Middle school for 11 - 14 yrs from class 6 to class 8 and Secondary school for 14 yrs to 18 yr old children  from class 9 to class 12.

3. Choice of multiple disciplines rather than straight jacketing into any one direction too early.

4. Addition of extra curricular activities.

5. Testing core capacity rather than memorising ability. 

6. Possibility of appearing for board exams twice to improve scores.

7. Freedom to choose language of instruction to encourage mother tongue as a medium of education.

8. Four year under graduate programme for higher education option available to jump directly to a PhD.

9. Multiple exit options for students - if they cannot continue higher education.

10. Multidisciplinary courses in higher education to phase out single stream approach.

11. Single regulatory body for the education. 

12. Opening up higher education in India to foreign universities.  

Kartikeya Sarabhai

Kartikeya Vikram Sarabhai  is one of the world's leading environmental educators and a dedicated community builder. He was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award, in 2012. Sarabhai is the founder and director of the Centre for Environment Education headquartered in Ahmedabad, with 40 offices across India. He is closely involved in the activities of the Nehru Foundation for Development, of VIKSAT and of Ahmedabad's Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre. He is also a trustee of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, and of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL). 

He has served on many committees set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India, primarily focusing on the greening of India's formal education system, and initiatives for biodiversity education. He was instrumental in initiating the South and Southeast Asian Network for Environment Education.  He also led the first international conference on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in Ahmedabad in 2005, and he is a member of the UNESCO Reference Group for DESD and the International Steering Committee for the end of the Decade Conference.

Register for REVIVE : 18 Oct
You are invited to a Zoom webinar. 
When: Oct 18, 2020 04:00 PM India 
Topic: National Education Policy 2020 : Opportunities and challenges for environment education
Speaker: Kartikeya Sarabhai
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the web
Join the REVIVE series every Sunday

During the recent COVID 19 lockdown, eCoexist began a series of web talks called REVIVE - as a way to reconnect with self, with community and with Nature. These talks started as chats between friends to see how we were going to work towards a new normal and to find a way to envision a different future. Slowly, our audience grew to include more people and the discussions to cover various aspects of Sustainability and Self. 

Every Sunday, we welcome you to connect with us through the REVIVE talks, that is bringing together a fantastic community of sensitive and brilliant people, with whom we can co create a new future. 

The talks are free for registration and have ample time and space for a deep and authentic conversation with the speaker. Some of our guests are otherwise difficult to reach as they live and work in remote locations and so these are precious opportunities to hear from them in person. 

Visit the REVIVE webpage
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The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
If you would like to contribute articles on ecology consciousness and sustainability please get in touch with us.

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