The University Grants Commission (UGC) will soon publish the draught guidelines and curriculum framework for undergraduate environmental education. The UGC has underlined that out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), six goals are directly linked to environmental protection and resource conservation.
According to UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar, the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 highlights how important it is to integrate environmental education into curricula and to promote environmental awareness and sensitivity towards its conservation and sustainable development.
“NEP also advocates the attainment of holistic and multidisciplinary education, through flexible and innovative curricula for all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) which shall include credit-based courses and projects in the areas of community engagement and service, environmental education, and value-based education,” Kumar told ANI.
“Global attention to the deteriorating condition of our environment was drawn at the United Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. In 2015, United Nations Members adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which provides a “blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future,” the UGC Chairman said.
He further told ANI that continuing problems of pollution, loss of forests, solid waste disposal, degradation of the environment, issues like economic productivity and national security, global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, and loss of biodiversity have made everyone aware of environmental issues.
“Six of the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are directly linked to environmental protection and resource conservation,” the chairman explained.
“In the National statement at the UNFCCC CoP 26 Global Leaders’ Summit in Glasgow, the Prime Minister’s mantra was “lifestyle for the environment,” and he also stressed setting a target for net zero carbon emissions by 2030. “On October 20th, 2022, the Prime Minister launched Mission Zero, a global movement to safeguard our environment from the impact of climate change,” the UGC Chairman added.
M. Jagadesh Kumar further said that “environment education, therefore, needs to include areas such as climate change, pollution, waste management, sanitation, conservation of biological diversity, management of biological resources and biodiversity, forest and wildlife conservation, and sustainable development.”
Previously, in 2003, the UGC issued a core module syllabus for the mandatory implementation of Environmental Studies at the undergraduate level in accordance with Supreme Court of India directives.
Further, in 2017, UGC framed an 8-unit module syllabus for the Ability Enhancement Compulsory Courses (AECC—Environmental Studies) under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS).
“The present document is an outcome of the UGC’s initiative to implement the National Education Policy, 2020, which emphasised the need to formulate guidelines and a curriculum framework for environmental education. “The document is expected to cater to students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and also include topics to sensitise students about the commitment of the nation towards achieving sustainable development goals,” the UGC chairman said.