A Participatory Study on the Role of Visual Arts in Environmental Literacy Programmes on Wetland Conservation for School Children

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Fr. A. Ignacy, Dr. D. Sunitha

Résumé

Environmental education has the power of raising the ecological consciousness of children in the formal education system. Environmental education is key to sustainable development as it not only sensitizes children on the current global environmental issues but also prepares them for future challenges. In India, environmental education was made compulsory in schools and higher education institutions by the apex court in 2005. However, the integration of environmental education into curriculum had its own issues and challenges. Some schools have performed exceptionally well in the implementation of environmental education with collaboration and support from environmentalists and environmental organizations. These collaborations with innovative teaching methods help in sensitizing young children on local and contextual environmental issues. This research paper presents the findings of an environmental literacy programme for children to conserve wetlands of river Thamirabarani, using visual arts as part of their formal course on environmental education. Visual arts are art forms that include drawing, painting, photography, video, films, documentaries and crafts. Around 30 students from a private school in Tirunelveli were selected for this research and were imparted knowledge on wetlands through various visual media. While films screened focused primarily on the issues concerning wetlands, the discussions and reflections after watching films helped children to locate the exact environmental problems in the Wetlands of Thamirabarani and have clarity of thoughts to step into relevant action. Pre and post survey and in depth interviews were the methods of evaluation. The results revealed that environmental education using visual arts was helpful to orient school children so as to develop critical thinking and to indulge in pro environmental activities and to have positive behavioural changes to conserve the environment.

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