Environmental Education in India (Concept and Role)

This article discusses the key principles of environment education in simple, layman language. It gives some insight into how our lives are connected with and dependent on the ecology of our environments and therefore the need to redesign curricula to include these relationships. It adresses the need for environmental education to be holistic, to build values, to integrate into the formal system and to be centered on practical problems.

The prosperity and well-being of a nation depends on the effective utilization of human and physical resources through industrialisation based on science and technology. But there is a perennial controversy between development and environment. The question is whether we shall go for industrial or modernization or we shall protect the environment. 

In one hand, we know that development of a nation depends on industrialization and on the other hand, rapid industrial and agricultural development entails much adverse effects on the environment of the countries concerned. So we have to apply our wisdom in striking a balance between these two contradictory factors. Development and environment are concerned with global ecology. We should, therefore; clearly know the basic concepts of environment or ecology and its relation with our developmental activities at macro as well as micro-level.

Basic Concepts

Everything that surrounds us and on which our life depends is our environment. Our room, our home, our village or town, our family and friends, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the sunshine and the rain – all are part of our environment. Even the environment of two individuals is different. But these environments are interrelated so closely that in a sense we all belong to the same environment. 


This inter- relatedness is a matter of ecology. The term ‘ecology’ has been derived from the Greek word ‘Oikos’ which means home. So, ecology is literally, the science that deals with the home conditions of all living beings. Ecology deals with the interrelationships between living beings and their environment. 

Previously, in old days, a natural balance was maintained between all living beings including men and plants. They were living together in harmony and in natural setting. Human beings live in harmony with the Nature including the Forest which was providing most of the necessities for living. But over the recent years, due to rapid industrialisation, urbanisation, the nature has been adversely affected. 

The environment is seriously degraded and there is imbalance and disharmony. The water and air has been polluted to a great extent because of the destruction of the vast forest on the earth. Because, forest plays an important role in conservation of water, purification of air and supplying many useful things to the human beings. 

Another disaster which is posed before us, is that due to rapid growth of urbanisation. The living conditions of the people in the cities and towns have been detoriated. There is pollution of water, air and noise etc. due to the rapid expansion of industries, power stations and motor vehicles etc. Everywhere, there is pollution. It has been proved harmful for the physical and mental health of the people.

All the Influences on the growth of the individual constitute environment. Environment includes a number of situations or experiences that influences the development of the individual. So the environment of an individual comprises all the physical and social factors around him which directly affect his living including the working conditions. 

The various environmental factors are interrelated. The physical environment includes the living and non-living, the geographical landmarks, topography and climatic conditions, the man-made feature like buildings, roads, transport and other facilities like health, sanitation, nutrition aspects. The social environment consists of the family and community life, fairs and festivals, modes of production and supply of essential commodities. 

The various environmental factors are inter-related. We know the environment of an individual comprises all the physical and social factors. Then only the individual can survive on his earth. For this reason our environment is to be protected.

Role of Education

Education is regarded as an important instrument and means for generating proper awareness and adequate knowledge and skills regarding environmental protection. It is, therefore, felt essential to develop education about the environment, education for the environment and education through the environment. So as a whole, it will be environmental education

  1. Environmental education should be integrated into the whole system of formal education at all levels. 
  2. Environmental education adopts a holistic perspective which will examine the ecological, social, cultural and other aspects of particular problems. 
  3. Environmental education should be centred on practical problems related to real life. 
  4. Environmental education should aim at building up a sense of values.

However, it is universally agreed that environment education should be inter-disciplinary, drawing from biological, sociological, anthropological, economic, and political and human resources. It is also agreed that a conceptual approach in teaching environmental education is the best. 

It also involves decision-making and development strategies for promoting environment protection. Environmental education is treated as a discipline in which various subjects like Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics are included. This makes it imperative to train specialists in environmental education for planning,’ management, development and taking remedial measure for solving the problems. 

The NCERT developed the guidelines for the school curriculum on the basis of the Education Commission, 1964-66. It has also prepared a resource material on the use of environment as a basis for meaningful learning in Primary Education. 

The National Policy on Education 1986 has also given a special place of significance to education and environment. So a great need is being felt to create an awareness for the protection of the environment by redesigning the objectives, methods and curriculum in the field of education.

This article was originally shared by Z. Khan on Your Article Library and is sourced from here.