News Release

Environment forum looks to stir young passions

Time:2016-04-27 Browse Number:573 Source:China Daily

(China Daily, April 26, 2016) Environmental education has become an essential part in young students' growth and it is important for them to have a global environmental view, said Jiang Nanqing, national officer at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Jiang was speaking at the first International Principal Forum on Environmental Education, which was held in Beijing on Saturday.

" UNEP helps to promote youth environmental education by providing a platform through which environmental experts can educate and inform," said Jiang.

She said she hopes young students understand the relationship between the environment and their life and consider the environmental impact of future development.

Tan Xiaoqing, vice-principal of Beijing No 4 High School, said the school makes full use of high-quality, educational resources, both in and out of the classroom, to ensure students get the best possible environmental education.

"Classes have incorporated scientific attitudes and methods related to environmental protection, making the classes a major platform for environmental education," he said. "The overall aim is to inspire and motivate students."

Tan said the school's students also took part in many related activities, with some producing a report in 2013 examining how air pollution in Beijing can be tackled. The report was presented to the city's environmental protection bureau, transport commission and political advisory body.

The report, which had the support of more than 200 students, showcased students' sense of responsibility, Tan said.

Wang Tao, vice-principal of Beijing 101 Middle School, said the school focused on students' main roles in the cause of environmental protection and that many of the school's environmental activities were planned and organized by students.

The school also encouraged students to participate in field studies, with some students visiting and carrying out research at the once-desertified Engebei ecological demonstration area in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in July 2013.

"During the visit, the students realized the importance of controlling desertification and protecting the environment," said Wang.

In March 2015, more than 20 students from the school went to Fragrant Hills to help pick up litter.

Feng Hong, vice-principal at Beijing No 2 Experimental Primary School, said it is the responsibility of educators to help foster students' awareness of environmental protection and encourage them to lead environmentally friendly lifestyles.

"Our school also emphasizes the major role that students play in environmental activities and education," she said.

An event about garbage classification was held at the school in December 2014 and some students performed a play about environmental protection that was conceived by the students themselves.

The students also showcased the school's achievements in environmental education, including garbage sorting and resource recycling.

UNEP and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education were two of the organizers of the International Principal Forum on Environmental Education. Wang Jun, an official at the commission, said environmental education focuses on the relationship between people and the environment and aims to help solve environmental problems and realize sustainable development.

"The commission has paid great attention to such education in primary and middle schools and helped foster students' awareness of environmental protection, as as well as their social responsibilities," he said.

The commission has asked schools to use interesting teaching methods to encourage students to engage with environmental issues and encourage them to think independently.

" Beijing has organized several activities about low-carbon environmental education among primary and middle school students from 2011 to 2015 and nearly 200,000 students took part in the events," said Wang.

"Some of the activities were competitions to test students' knowledge of environmental protection and collecting plans for helping build an environmentally friendly campus."

According to Wang, Beijing launched a scientific suggestion award for primary and middle school students in 2009 because of a student named Zhu Xiaoxuan.

Zhu wrote a letter arguing that motor vehicle engines should cut out at red traffic lights and reignite when the lights turn green.

The letter was sent to former Premier Wen Jiabao during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and at this time, Zhu was still at Beijing No 2 Experimental Primary School.

"The award has brought to light several topics about environmental protection since its inception," said Wang.

He said the commission plans to improve the environmental education system in Beijing and better inform people about environmental issues. It will also encourage and support schools to better use the resources of Beijing's universities and scientific institutions so that teachers can attend related training sessions and meetings.

UNEP's Jiang said the organization has held youth summer camps in the Kubuqi Desert in Inner Mongolia with the aim of showing students the effects of environmental changes.

To Jiang's pleasure, several camp participants told her how the summer camp had changed their attitude toward the environment. According to Jiang, UNEP needs to learn from schools about how best to approach environmental education and she hopes schools and parents will continue to support activities held by the organization. The first China Youth Environmental Forum and a middle school student concert on environmental protection were also held along with the principal forum on Saturday.