10 de Diciembre de 2018
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Colección:
La Educación
Número: (115) II
Año: 1993

Formal Education

Tertiary Level

A number of tertiary institutions in the Caribbean now offer structured programs in Environmental Studies. The University of the West Indies offers courses in environmental studies at its three campuses. At the Cave Hill campus, Barbados, the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) offers a post-graduate diploma program in Environmental Studies and Natural Resources Management. There is, as well, a Master’s Program in Marine and Coastal Resources Management. The Centre is designed as a repository for research in environmental management and natural resource issues in the Caribbean. At the campuses in Jamaica and Trinidad, courses on various aspects of environmental management are offered.

The University of the Virgin Islands which has campuses on St. Thomas and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, also offers a number of courses related to environmental management, while the University of Puerto Rico, through its State University of Rio Piedras and its Regional Colleges, offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Management, with a specialty in Marine Biology and Masters’ and Doctoral Degrees in similar disciplines.

At its Centre for Energy and Environmental Studies (established in 1969), the University of Puerto Rico carries out research in Urban Ecology, Marine Biology, Environmental Science, and Energy.

A Consortium of Caribbean Universities for Natural Resources Management, which brings together some fifteen institutions, has maintained a strong emphasis on marine and coastal resources education and training. The secretariat of the consortium was established in 1989 at the University of the Virgin Islands’ St. Thomas campus.

Secondary Level

At the secondary level, education pertaining to the environment in most of the region’s schools reflects the influence of environmental issues on the society. In 1983, syllabuses prepared by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) made it necessary to revise the secondary curriculum to meet their requirements in subjects such as general science, social studies, biology, geography, and agricultural science. Through these subjects environmental concepts are infused into the curriculum as there is no single discipline which encompasses all aspects of Environmental Education.

Elementary Level

At the elementary or primary level, students are generally exposed to environmental concepts through the infusion of environmental awareness information in subjects such as social studies, general science and geography; through nature walks; art; poetry and essay competitions; and a variety of environmental projects which are undertaken both in and outside of the classroom. This approach has proven to be effective at this level, since it adequately undergirds more specific focus on environmental issues at the secondary level.

Other

Some other institutions offering different aspects of formal environmental education in the Caribbean include the West Indies School of Public Health (WISPH), The College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), College of Agriculture in Jamaica, and the College of Science and Technology at the University of Guyana.

The formal education system, as one of the most formidable Caribbean institutions, is guarded by strongly held values and complex bureaucratic arrangements which characterize the region. Traditionally, teachers have been regarded as pillars of society and, as such, they exert considerable influence.

In light of increasingly demanding curricula and examination schedules, the majority of teachers tend to resist any innovations which might suggest any additions to an already demanding work-load. However, because curricula is at the heart of formal education, it is important that the multidisciplinary approach required to teach environmental concepts be structured into a format which could be incorporated into teacher training programs and eventually into revised curricula. But curricula reforms are never easy to initiate and implement, if for no other reason than the fact that there is almost always widespread resistance to any change. (In the Caribbean, the situation is no different.)

The importance of education in the process of development and nation building cannot be overemphasized. It is through education that the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes necessary for a people to become constructively involved in the process of building their country are acquired. Given the overwhelming emphasis being placed on the sustainability of development, it is crucial that education about the environment be placed center stage in the development planning matrix. This requires a new approach to education—one which prepares Caribbean people to provide their own solutions to environmental and developmental problems, so that they no longer have to look to outside sources for these solutions. This approach to formal education is only now beginning to take root, as teachers strive to make young people agents of change in society—change which must be sustained. Teacher training is a critical element in the process, and teacher training programs using distance teaching technology are now being actively developed and promoted by some tertiary level institutions in the region.