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Empowering the future: Teaching sustainability to the next generation

By Hazel M. Oñate

Teacher 3

Baliuag Viejo Elementary School


Environmental education is critical for providing the future generation with the knowledge and skills required to handle today’s serious environmental concerns. In the Philippines, a country noted for its abundant biodiversity and natural resources, teaching sustainability is critical. The country’s distinct environmental setting, combined with its vulnerability to climate change and natural calamities, makes environmental education critical. Environmental education seeks to instill in pupils a feeling of duty and stewardship for the environment by teaching them about the natural world, the impact of human activities on ecosystems, and the value of sustainable practices. This education is critical for the Philippines, a country with distinct environmental concerns and assets. It enables young people to comprehend and confront environmental concerns that influence their daily lives and future. Conservation of biodiversity is one of the most important reasons for environmental education in the Philippines. The country is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, home to a large proportion of the planet’s species, many of which are endemic. Educating young people about biodiversity and conservation helps to safeguard these unique species and their ecosystems, ensuring the preservation of the country’s rich natural heritage.


Another important consideration is climate change adaptation. As an archipelagic country, the Philippines is particularly vulnerable to climate change effects such as rising sea levels, more frequent typhoons, and extreme weather events. Environmental education prepares the next generation to create and implement ways of adapting to these changes. Furthermore, with increased urbanization and economic growth, achieving a balance between development and environmental sustainability is tough. Teaching young Filipinos about sustainable practices encourages responsible consumption and production habits, which are critical for long-term environmental and economic stability.


Several projects and programs are underway in the Philippines to incorporate environmental education into the curriculum and encourage pupils to be sustainable. These activities seek to provide young Filipinos with the information and skills required to effectively handle environmental concerns. The Department of Education has included environmental education into the K–12 curriculum. Science, Social Studies, and Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) courses increasingly cover environmental conservation, climate change, and sustainable development. Furthermore, the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 requires the inclusion of environmental education in both formal and non-formal education systems, ensuring that students receive complete environmental education throughout their academic careers.


The Eco-Schools Program, developed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in conjunction with DepEd, encourages schools to embrace ecologically responsible practices. This initiative emphasizes trash segregation, recycling, tree planting, and the construction of school gardens. Schools that participate in the Eco-Schools Program are recognized for their efforts, serving as role models for other institutions to follow and developing a culture of sustainability within the education community. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental groups run youth environmental camps to give kids hands-on experience with environmental conservation and sustainability. These camps feature workshops, field visits, and community service projects, which assist participants develop a feeling of environmental responsibility and practical understanding. By engaging in these activities, students gain a deeper understanding of environmental issues and are motivated to take action in their communities.


To effectively educate the future generation about sustainability, engaging and thorough tactics must be used. These tactics are especially effective in the Philippines, where environmental issues are both severe and distinctive. Experiential learning, sometimes known as “learning by doing,” is an effective technique for teaching environmental education. Students can immediately experience the environmental impact of their actions by participating in hands-on activities such as tree planting, school garden maintenance, and clean-up drives. Schools can plan field trips to national parks, marine sanctuaries, and community-based ecotourism sites, giving pupils direct knowledge of biodiversity and conservation activities. This method helps children form a stronger connection to their natural surroundings and recognize the need to safeguard them. Environmental education should be adjusted to the local context to make it more relevant and effective. In the Philippines, addressing specific environmental challenges including deforestation, coral reef deterioration, and plastic waste is critical. Lessons can include local case studies and examples to make the topic more relevant to pupils. Discussing rehabilitation work on Boracay Island or the conservation of the Philippine eagle can showcase successful local projects and inspire students to get involved in their areas. Understanding and addressing local environmental concerns allows students to experience the immediate application of their knowledge in their daily lives.


Technology can dramatically improve environmental education. Interactive digital tools, internet resources, and educational apps make learning about sustainability more enjoyable. In the Philippines, where technology is becoming more accessible, schools may teach complicated environmental issues using e-learning modules and virtual simulations. Social media can also help to create awareness and promote environmental causes among students. By using technology into environmental education, teachers may create dynamic and interactive learning experiences that hold students’ attention and encourage active involvement. Engaging the community in environmental education efforts increases effect and develops a culture of sustainability. Schools can work with local governments, non-governmental organizations and community groups to undertake environmental initiatives and activities. Community clean-up drives, coastal restoration projects, and urban gardening efforts can bring together students, parents, and local people in a collaborative effort to conserve the environment. Furthermore, providing teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to properly teach environmental education is critical. Professional development programs, workshops, and training sessions can provide teachers with the essential tools and resources. Organizations such as the Philippine Science High School System (PSHS) train teachers to incorporate environmental education into their teaching procedures. Improving instructors’ abilities considerably enhances the quality of environmental education, guaranteeing that pupils receive the best possible instruction on sustainability.


Despite several initiatives to enhance environmental education in the Philippines, obstacles persist. Limited resources, inadequate infrastructure, and varied levels of teacher preparedness can all impede the successful implementation of environmental programs. Furthermore, given the Philippines’ geographic diversity, solutions must be tailored to diverse regional circumstances. However, these challenges provide opportunities for creativity and collaboration. Partnerships among government agencies, educational institutions, the commercial sector, and civil society can result in a more holistic approach to environmental education. The rising use of technology and digital platforms helps transcend geographical limitations and reach a larger audience. Environmental education is critical in preparing the next generation to face future environmental concerns. In the Philippines, teaching sustainability entails incorporating environmental subjects into the curriculum, encouraging practical learning, using technology, and involving the community. By instilling a sense of duty and stewardship for the environment, the Philippines may raise environmentally conscious citizens who can lead sustainable practices and advocate for the preservation of their natural heritage. Through joint efforts and a determined focus on sustainability, the next generation of Filipinos may be empowered to shape a more sustainable and resilient future for their country and the world.

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