Colección: La Educación
Número: (115) II
Awareness of global environmental problems has focused worldwide attention on the loss and degradation of natural resources. Increasingly, the worlds nations are coming to see basic resources such as biodiversity, atmosphere, ozone, and coastal and marine ecosystems as world resources regardless of where they occur geographically. Along with this new paradigm, we in the Americas have seen a new wave of interest and government support for the creation of public environmental awareness programs, not only in developed countries, but also in less developed countries across the region. Governmental bilateral assistance agencies, multi-lateral development banks and technical assistance organizations, and international conservation NGOs are earmarking unprecedented amounts of financial and human resources to assist less developed countries (LDCs) in their efforts to heighten public awareness about relationships between the environment and quality of life.
A major emphasis in environmental awareness initiatives has been the development of formal (school-based) environmental education programs designed and carried out either as a supplement to or as integral parts of the mandated school curriculum. In developed countries, these efforts typically represent the continuation of an established tradition of environmental education, and are carried out by college-educated teachers utilizing instructional materials that have been developed, tested, and refined specifically for application in their classrooms. By contrast, many rural areas in Central American still lack this tradition, as well as the financial resources and technically trained staff necessary to establish one. To this point in time, they frequently have looked to developed countries, not only as sources of economic and technical assistance, but also as a source of instructional materials, either intact or as translated facsimiles.
Many environmental educators in the United States have been eager to assist in this process. Equipped with experience and proven methodologies, a growing number of educators have turned their attention to Central America with hopes of contributing to the growth and development of environmental education in countries where cadres of trained professionals are only now beginning to amass. Although organizations from many countries are involved, U.S. environmental educators are among those at the forefront, owing in part to the experience and knowledge about environmental education they have accumulated in their own country, and in part to the many programs and environmental teaching materials they have produced over the past three decades. It is with these materials and knowledge of environmental education in their own classrooms that U.S. experts are trying to augment the practice and growth of environmental education in Central American rural areas.