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In order to know where we are going, it is important to know where we have come from. It is a
privilege to teach environmental education in South Africa and it is not a task to be taken lightly. I can
say this because I know how we got to this point. I will first discuss the development of
environmental education internationally, because it is important to learn about the international
progression and where we fit in as South Africans, and then I will discuss the development of
environmental education in South Africa.

Internationally, in the 19th century, the world was quickly engulfed by mass production, wastage,
terrible health conditions, social ills and environmental destruction. Critics started to fight for the
need to teach children about the environment. A major figure at this time was Patrick Geddes, a
professor from Scotland who practiced environmental education. He dedicated himself to improving
the environment and the education thereof. In the 20 th century came World War Two when the ideas
for a better world were incubated. The decades following World War Two saw the first international
organisations concerned with the environment, the IUCN (International Union for the conservation
of Nature and Natural Resources) and WWF (World Wildlife Fund) formed. However the most fruitful
partnership was the one with Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation). These three organisations helped to introduce the concept of “environmental
education”. This was the time when many of the concerns of “developing countries” were placed on
the international agenda for discussion. In 1977 the twelve Tibilisi principles were adopted as guiding
principles for effective environmental Education. South Africa’s leaders did not one respond
positively to these principles and it was left to individuals and NGO’s to run with them. Between
1990 and 2002 the Earth Summit focussed on the role of environmental education as a response to
the environmental crisis. This involved teachers and learners in the promotion of sustainable
development. Respect for all life was taught emphasised the participation of all individuals in making
decisions about their future. The NGO Forum Principles were known less widely as the Tibilisi
principles, but showed a greater concern for issues of social justice, equity, democracy and social
transformation. As years went on people realised that not much of a difference had been made and
realised the need for environmental education in the schools and important role the teacher plays in
this process. In 1997 the world celebrated 20 years of the Tibilisi declaration and aimed to evaluate
education as a basis for the “forth pillar” of sustainability in the 21 st century.

In the years before 1994, South Africa was on a different path. Efforts were mainly focussed on
education about soil erosion and “conservation education”, which focussed on wise use of natural
resources. In the mid 1970’s South Africa started to hear of contemporary forms of environmental
education. In the 1980’s the concept of “outdoor education” was confused with environmental
education, where the focus was on out-of-door activities, the study of and respect for nature and
craft of various kinds. The first international conference on environmental education in South Africa
took place in 1982 in Treverton College, Mooi River, in Natal. This was the first time that a wide
spectrum of South Africans concerned with environmental education could come together to discuss
matters of common interest. This conference also saw the formation of the Environmental Education
Association of South Africa (EEASA) which played a major role in the development of environmental
education in the sub continental region. They also started the first regular publication on
environmental education. At this time, NGO’s played a major role as well in running with projects to
educate the communities about environmental education. In 1989 The White Paper on
Environmental Education was established, and this stated that environmental education should be
taught at all levels. The first University to offer courses on environmental education was the
University of Bophuthatswana (North-West University) offering undergraduate and post graduate
courses. Rhodes University, The University of South Africa and the University of Stellenbosch were
also early players in environmental education. As political change began to occur, many doors
opened for the development of environmental education as political parties aligned themselves with
the environment. 1994 saw our country into democracy. The ANC was in power and realised the
need for environmental education in schools. Along with some very influential and determined
committees they implemented a curriculum and set the scene for ongoing environmental education
curriculum development. As the curriculum developed, it was noticed that environmental education
needed to be interdisciplinary and cross-curricular, thus, all teachers in all learning areas were
required to consider an environmental focus. This is still the case today and, as a young, developing
democratic country, we will continue to grow in this area.
In conclusion, I believe that our knowledge of the past should continue to shape our future,
nationally and internationally. Without the combined efforts of the environmentalists of the past, our
present would have been wrought with environmental problems, let the environmentalists of the
present prepare the way for the environmentalists of the future.

Answer: Biodiversity (Variety in the Environment).

- At the end of the lesson, the learners will be able to appreciate the need for variety in their
- They will be able to choose plants which are indigenous to South Africa for their own gardens.
- They will appreciate the uniqueness of different animals and their habitats.
- And they will learn how to preserve the natural habitats of some of these creatures.

- This lesson will be in the form of an outing to a touch-farm.
- It is specifically for the Preschool and grade 1 classes.
- The lesson will begin in the classroom with a discussion about our family, our pets and animals
that can’t be pets. Questions that will be discussed include:
1. Who lives in your home?
2. Is everyone in your family the same? (we will discuss the need for diversity)
3. Who has a pet at home?
4. How do we take care of our pets?
5. Do you think an elephant would be happy living in your home?
6. Where will an elephant be happy?
7. What other animals would NOT be happy living in our homes? (we will discuss different
- After this discussion, I will tell the children that plants and trees also live in special places and
need special care because these plants might be the home to some special animals. Some
questions to be discussed:
1. What kinds of animals live in trees and bushes?
2. Do you think trees can be bullies?
- After question 2, I will introduce the idea of alien plants and how they fight for natural resources
and leave nothing for our South African (indigenous) plants.
- At the touch farm the children will be able to see, touch and feed some of the animals discussed
earlier in the classroom. They will have the opportunity to see how these animals are cared for
and where they like to sleep. We will discuss how each animal is different and likes to eat
different foods (if they all ate the same food, there would not be enough food to go around). We
will also discuss where the animals like to sleep (if they all wanted to sleep in a tree, there would
not be enough room for everyone, and some animals weren’t made to climb trees).
- On the way home we will sing Old Mac Donald had a farm and try to remember all the animals
we saw and the sounds they made.
- Back in the classroom, the children will be asked to draw a picture of the touch-farm and the
animals which they saw. The pictures will be displayed on the wall to show how unique each
child’s experience was.

- During the first discussion about our family, our pets and animals that can’t be pets, I will be
doing a baseline assessment by listening to the answers of each child in order to determine what
the learners know and where to begin teaching. I will also be look for children who don’t answer
any of the question in order to get them involved, as well as those children who seem to want to
answer all the questions, these children will be encouraged to give others a chance.
- At intervals I will be performing formative assessment. By taking time to talk to individual
learners, I will be able to determine whether or not the learning outcomes are being reached
and I will be able to judge the appropriateness of the lesson in order to plan for future learning
- At the end of the lesson I will be able to perform a summative assessment. By looking at the
pictures which are drawn, I will be able to notice a child whom may not have grasped the
learning outcomes. The children will also be given homework, they will need to talk about what
they learnt during the lesson; this will be done on the next day so that I will be able to determine
whether the learners have achieved the learning outcomes.
- This lesson will also be a part of my continuous assessment which takes place over the entire
- At the same time I will be using the lesson to add to my diagnostic assessment in order to
determine any barriers to learning or any learning difficulties.

- I will use posters of wild animals and tame animals as well as habitats during the discussion.
- On the bus I will use songs about animals to keep the learners focused on the lesson.
- At the farm I will be taking photographs and I will display them on my laptop when we get back
to class to provide inspiration for the drawing exercise.
- I will also provide fabrics of different texture to paste on the picture to provide a sensory input.
- Appreciation for biodiversity
- Understanding of alien species and the harm they do
- Caring for nature
- Respect for animals and their needs
- Retention of information
- Communication of what was learnt
- How to approach and care for animals
- Appreciation for the differences is people and animals
- Expressing experience through art
- To think of the needs of animals and their role in that (not to be selfish)

The years 2009 to 2014 has been designated as the “Decade for Education for Sustainable
Development”. I suppose it’s hoped that at the end of that decade we would have been educated
enough to be living in the “LIFETIME of Sustainable Development”. The problem, however, is that we
can’t just climb up onto our soap boxes and shout: “This is the decade for education for sustainable
development!” What good will that do anyone? Most people won’t even know what you’re going on
about. So, as educators, how do we educate for sustainable development? Thank goodness we don’t
have to answer this question on our own. In 1977 twelve principles of environmental education were
adopted at the International Conference on Environmental Education held in Tibilisi. I will be
discussing four of these Tibilisi principles and how they can contribute to this decade.

Principle #1: Promote the value of and necessity for local, national and international co-operation in
the prevention and solution of environmental problems.
Wherever you go in the world, there will be environmental problems. Some problems are more
urgent than others, but you need not go overseas in order to help the environment. If we take a look
in our own back yard, so to speak, we will see needs and issues unattended to. By joining some
international operation, we neglect the local and national sector. In the same way, we can do all we
can in our home town, but if the rest of the nation and the world neglect to co-operate in the
solution of a problem, we will make slow progress. By starting locally, we become part of a solution.
This is the responsibility of every individual. It is the responsibility of our nation’s leaders to
encourage a high standard of environmental problem-solving. And it is essential for nations to
encourage and help each other to prevent and solve environmental problems. If the people are
united, the earth will benefit.

Principle #2: Explicitly consider environmental aspects in plans for development and growth.
In the planning for development it would be naive of us to build any structure without considering
the impact it would have on the environment. Rather, in the decision process, we should plan to
improve the environment; add to it rather remove. As new cars are made and designed, cleaner
emissions should be one of the aims of the manufacturer. As a town grows leaders should be
thinking about making public transport reliable and cost-effective and encouraging people to use this
as an alternative to personal vehicles.

Principle #3: Enable learners to have a role in planning their learning experiences and provide an
opportunity for making decisions and accepting their consequences.
We cannot think about the future of our environment without thinking about the future of the
human race. A learner who believes that they can make a difference in their world will feel confident
enough to take on environmental projects. When children take part in the planning of learning
experiences, you have an opportunity to discover what they are interested in and help them discover
their potential to make a difference in the environment and enjoy it! If we allow the learners to make
decisions and learn from their own mistakes and successes, we foster a learning attitude in them, we
also provide a platform for them to think critically and solve a problem. Small victories in class
projects will encourage them to take on more and more responsibility in their own lives with regards
to their influence on the environment.

Principle #4: Emphasise the complexity of environmental problems and thus the need to develop
critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
No problem is as simple as we would like it to be, there is no quick-fix or short answer to the fact
that society grows, more people are going to bed hungry and we need to find a way to feed them
without depleting natural resources, cutting down more trees, destroying natural habitats and
creating plants which put others into extinction. This principle encourages us to see the problem for
what it is, COMPLEX; the path we take to rectify a problem, may affect another part of our
environment. Creating more problems by fixing another, we are not living for sustainability. Critical
thinking and problem-solving skills are essential to this process, if we can look at a problem and find
a solution which will solve a problem without creating more problems, we are living in sustainability.

In conclusion I would like stress the importance of the educator in this decade. We sometimes forget
that we have the opportunity to change the way children view their world. We can shape the next
generation’s thinking and encourage them to make a difference in their community, their nation and
indeed, the world!