The insertion of Environmental Education in the National Education Law

The insertion of Environmental Education in the National Education Law

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By Lic. Diana Durán

This article includes some general contributions to the debate that has begun on the proposal for a National Education Law in what strictly refers to the contributions that promote the insertion of Environmental Education.

In the first part of the document a series of "Principles of the National Law of Education" is enunciated to which we will refer below.

In Chapter 1 entitled "Education is the basis of a fairer society" the document states that "education cannot be considered as a 'sectoral' policy, but as the key variable of the national development strategy. In this sense, the document should consider sustainable development strategies, especially when it relates to "the future of countries and the well-being of future generations" key concepts in its definition. However, in the document for the debate it is mentioned that "only an education of excellent quality for the entire population will allow achieving the objectives of social justice, economic growth and democratic citizenship, which guide a sustainable development strategy." In this way, the document refers to strictly socio-economic and political but not environmental aspects, even more so if it is noted that it refers especially to economic growth, an issue that is not very compatible if it is not contextualized with social equity and environmental sustainability. .

The insertion of the environmental dimension, especially with regard to territorial environmental disparities, is a strategic issue of the first order in an Education Law whose document for debate states that: “We need, in summary, a new Education Law for the Argentine Nation of the XXI century, which effectively guarantees the right to education established in the National Constitution for its entire population ”.

A fairer society relies on the exercise of a new citizenship

The document also refers to the “four pillars that enjoy broad consensus in Argentine society: (i) national identity, (ii) democracy, (iii) productivity and growth, and (iv) integration and social justice". It would be necessary to integrate sustainable development among these pillars to ensure the promotion of a more just society.

In “Educating for Democracy” the environment is mentioned in “relation to the civic education that the school provides, it is also increasingly linked to providing elements to make a set of decisions that not only require a solid scientific training but also a perspective ethics. Decisions in the field of the environment, energy, bioethics, genetics, the application of new technologies, etc. they present both ethical and scientific components ”. In this sense, the incorporation of the environmental issue remains ingrained in citizen training and, thus, throughout the debate, although it should be raised with greater emphasis, including issues related to the development of environmental competence in children and adolescents. young boys. This competence is defined as the complex capacity by which students manage to perceive, understand and project themselves in the natural and social environment, promoting its sustainability.

In "Educating for productivity and growth" it is specified that "the change towards a development model that considers as its main support the ability of people to add value based on the quality of their training, requires recovering the capacity of the system educational to contribute to growth based on the productive potential of the country. The possibility of asserting national sovereignty and identity in a world where knowledge and science and technology are increasingly becoming factors that decide the independence and self-determination of nations also depend on this capacity ”. When referring to a development model, the sustainable dimension of development should also be included, since as it is expressed, only the capacity to develop competencies related to productivity and economic growth is contemplated without reflecting on the environmental problems of the country whose recognition is it relates to issues relating to the nature-society link.

It is explained in the document that "work as a value that generates dignity and sustainability for both society and its citizens" would be incorporated into school practice. Here the concept of sustainability is presented, but it is not very clear whether it refers to sustainability economically or environmentally. In this sense, environmental education reveals its pedagogical and didactic potentialities related to raising the quality of life in education.

It is stated that “educating for productivity should be one of the ways through which the integral development of the personality is promoted”. This statement cannot ignore the question of the relationship between productivity and sustainable development so that the development of the personality is promoted in an integral way. Rather, we should think about educating for sustainability that integrates productivity, since it is a more inclusive concept than the latter.

Educate for integration and social justice

It is expressed in the document that the “construction of a fairer society is the central objective of the proposal to prepare a National Education Law. National identity, democracy and economic growth can only be developed to their full potential in the context of progress towards greater social integration as a result of a fairer distribution of wealth. It is not possible to imagine the progress of the country if some of its citizens are excluded ”. In this sense, we believe that a more just society cannot be achieved while our country has been excluded and marginalized by the presence of serious environmental problems in the different regions. Social inequality can also be attributed to the different environmental conditions that the Argentine population lives, for example, in alternating areas of severe droughts and floods; in areas of agricultural productivity limited by severely eroded soils or severe desertification; in environments subjected to floods, tornadoes, extreme snowfalls, forest fires, massive deforestation and, especially, environmental pollution of the air or water that affect public health, among other regional environmental problems.

The new law must guarantee that the right to a good quality education is fulfilled for all

If the new National Education Law should "guarantee access to education in all cycles, levels and special regimes, to the entire population, through the creation, maintenance, authorization and supervision of the necessary services, with the participation of the family , the community and the organizations responsible for recognized or authorized privately managed educational units ”; It will be essential to recognize and guarantee universal access to water services, electricity, sewers and other issues related to a healthy and sustainable environment as provided in the National Constitution in article 41. This issue is connected with the geographical location of the establishments education in areas lacking such basic services. Consequently, the "action program" referred to in the document must include such aspects not specifically mentioned.

Also, with regard to this section, it should be considered that environmental education involves Argentine nature and society in the global and Latin American context, constituting an interactive system of socio-environmental relationships that promotes and becomes evident in the actions governmental. It also encompasses the shared desire of the population to improve their quality of life and, consequently, act through increasingly intense community participation in alternative solutions to national environmental problems. The new Education Law should contemplate this new situation that arises at the national level.

The right to quality education for all in Argentina in the 21st century

Everyone's right to education includes a series of conditions, including “An education that trains the citizen to protect the environment”, a key issue that is transversal to other items, including specifically:
? An education that prepares to exercise a critical, active and responsible citizenship, providing tools to participate in collective life. (Aspects that Environmental Education undoubtedly promotes)
? An education that values ​​pluralism, difference and cultural diversity, without giving rise to any type of discrimination based on race, religion, origin, gender, age, disability. (Here it would be necessary to include discrimination related to a healthy and sustainable environment)
? An education that has appropriate buildings, the necessary equipment and resources. (Here it would also be essential to include the question of a healthy environment, since it will not be possible to think of appropriate buildings in environmentally vulnerable areas)
? An education that provides opportunities to participate in educational management and action to the community and to all the actors in the system.
? An education that makes it possible to develop the set of potentialities of each Argentine, generating the conditions for true equality of opportunities.

In short, “environmental education should be considered, as Gaudiano (2006) points out, to stop being an adjectival education more like multicultural education, education for the exercise of democracy and education for human rights have been until now. , emerging fields, precariously constituted, considered passing fads, built on the peripheries of education and in the folds of the social situation of our times', must transcend towards an education for sustainable development conceived as an education in values, civic, ethics , multicultural, not limited or circumscribed to issues of ecology, but committed to diversity and the fight against poverty and without relegating the particular history of the Latin American experience ”(Sessano, 2006).

CHAPTER 2. Ten axes of debate and lines of action

1. Ensure that everyone has access and remains in the education system.

In this axis, the need to achieve "a unified structure for the entire country" is raised, which should consider the transversality of environmental education at all educational levels, including its social, institutional and curricular commitments.
The reference to youth culture requires the commitment of young people as vectors of environmental awareness and participation, an issue that is noticeably appreciated in the voluntary actions carried out throughout the national sphere through clubs, forums, projects of service-learning, school research, among others, related to environmental education.
In this sense, when referring to Youth Activity Centers (CAJ) the document does not include such types of activities that, due to their broad development, significance and relevance, it would be necessary to incorporate.

2. Good quality education is everyone's right

The document indicates that "it will be very significant to gradually increase the proportion of basic education students who have access to extended or full-time schools, prioritizing the most disadvantaged social sectors and geographic areas." Consideration of these geographical areas should explicitly include those that are environmentally disadvantaged.

This axis also refers to the need to "identify those aspects that define a good school or a good education, in order to promote its continuous improvement." A good school, as defined in the document, should not ignore the "good environment" that is inescapable to guarantee it.

"Comprehensive training supposes strengthening the capacity of each one to define their life project, freedom, peace and solidarity, equality, justice, responsibility and the common good." This comprehensive training should include the concept of sustainability with which it is extensively completed.

In order to recover the centrality of learning, reference is made to the social issues that limit the quality of education, among which explicit reference should be made to the environmental issues mentioned above that make up these social issues. In this sense, undoubtedly, environmental education contributes through its principles (especially with regard to its active, supportive and eminently social character) to return centrality to learning in balance with the community projections that the new Education Law should boost. At present, schools, teachers and students are great protagonists, for example, of solidarity educational experiences in environmental education related to topics as comprehensive as the prevention of environmental risks, the sustainable use of water and soil conservation as the rational use of energy and the care and recovery of green spaces, among many others.

3. Guarantee the right to be recognized and respected in their language and culture

The document states that "Argentina is a multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country, due both to the presence of aboriginal communities and to migrants speaking different languages ​​and of different cultural origins." However, it would be essential to consider that Argentina is also an environmentally complex country, which would imply recognizing the right to preserve the diversity and quality of the different environments to which the different educational communities of our country belong, especially in the case of peoples origins that are resignified in this axis.

4. Guarantee the right to lifelong education

This axis should also guarantee the right to an education in a healthy and sustainable environment.

5. Guarantee the right of families to participate in the education of their children

For this axis, environmental education constitutes a great pedagogical opportunity for the participation of families in projects that bring the school and the community closer together through multiple activities, which although they have a notorious presence in the country should be widely disseminated in quality and territorial coverage (organic orchards, environmental production micro-enterprises, environmental education and environmental health campaigns, campaigns to promote the solution of local environmental problems and of different scales, among others)

6. The teacher as a subject of law: guarantee decent working, training and career conditions.

The document affirms that "teacher training must be understood as a process that begins with initial training but continues throughout the entire career" and in this sense, environmental education should be incorporated throughout the training course and in a interdisciplinary and not biased in the different intervening disciplines.

7. Guarantee the right of students to have schools in decent material conditions.

This axis is closely related to the constitutional right to a healthy and sustainable environment. The Constitution says in its Art. 41 that “All inhabitants have the right to a healthy, balanced environment, suitable for human development and for productive activities to satisfy present needs without compromising those of future generations; and they have a duty to preserve it. Environmental damage will generate, as a priority, the obligation to repair, as established by law. The authorities will provide for the protection of this right, for the rational use of natural resources, for the preservation of natural and cultural heritage and biological diversity, and for environmental information and education. "
The relationship between the guarantee of the right to have schools in decent material conditions, or even a broader expression of this issue, and Article 41 of the National Constitution is notorious.

8. Guarantee the right of all to participate in the educational challenge

In this axis, Art. 41 is also deeply applied, especially with regard to the participation of the State and the different sectors of the population, integrating the multiple environmental organizations that participate in educational actions of different kinds.

9. Guarantee the right of everyone to know and master the new information technologies

In the itinerary of "Strengthening the educational role of the mass media", as expressed in the document, the role of environmental education is central because it strongly promotes the intervention of students in community and participatory activities related to the mass media. Communication.

10. Put the government of education at the service of quality objectives for all

As expressed in the document: “Education foreshadows the future and only if we agree on a project for the future, can we guide the actions of the different social actors with adequate levels of coherence. Education is always a long-term activity and educators cannot act without having a vision of the future that gives meaning to our work ”.

An unsustainable future in environmental matters would not allow the fulfillment of this orientation towards the future of our education, hence the essential nature of a more complete, systemic and exhaustive insertion of Environmental Education in the document for the debate of the Education Law.

1. Dranda. and BA in Geography from the Universidad del Salvador. [email protected]
2. Sessano, Pablo. Environmental education: a way of learning. In Annals of Common Education. Third century. Year 2. Number 3. April 2006. General Directorate of Culture and Education of the Province of Buenos Aires. Provincial Planning Directorate. Digital version of the article published on pp. 102 to 111 of the paper edition.
3. Durán, Diana (2001) School, environment and community. Teacher Training Manual. Educambiente Foundation. Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Solidarity Education Program. Buenos Aires.

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