Environmental Education (EE) in Hong Kong
(ACE Paper 3/99)
The purpose of this paper is to outline the implementation of environmental education, in particular for youth, in Hong Kong. The Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC), the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Education Department (ED) have played an important role in educating the public about environmental protection. Youth is one of the major target groups for the environmental programmes.
II.Environmental Education in Schools
The "Guidelines on Environmental Education in Schools" was issued to all schools in 1992. Broadly speaking, the Education Department (ED) recommends a cross-curricular approach which aims at producing in pupils a lifelong and forward-looking concern for the environment, to prepare them for making well-informed, justifiable and practical decisions regarding the conservation of the environment and to enable them to live as useful and responsible citizens. Presently, EE is receiving greater attention that ever before in schools, despite a heavy curriculum. In line with the policy recommended by the Curriculum Development Council, schools adopt a holistic approach in promoting EE through both the formal and informal curricula. Currently, the Guidelines is being revised to include new developments such as the importance of sustainable development and environmental citizenship.
Elements of environmental education permeate a great number of subjects in the existing school curriculum. At primary level, General Studies was introduced as a new subject in the 1996/97 school year. EE elements are integrated into the four main areas of study, viz. "Healthy Living", "The Living Environment", "The Natural World" and "Science and Technology" of the syllabus. A range of topics with direct relevance to environmental educational are taught across all levels in primary schools.
At secondary level, EE elements are incorporated in different subject groups of sciences, humanities, languages and cultural and technological subjects. Science subjects such as Chemistry, Biology, Human Biology, Physics and Science provide students with learning experiences on the biotic and abiotic factors affecting the environment, the inter-relationship between these factors and the role human beings play. The humanities and social subjects such as Geography, History, Religious Education, Social Studies, Travel and Tourism and Economic and Public Affairs have all included themes and topics focusing on the interplay of people and their environment. There is an independent module of environmental studies in the subject, Liberal Studies at Secondary 6 & 7.
Interest and concern for the environment has been an area of consideration in the development of new and revised syllabuses. The new Geography Syllabus for Secondary 1-3, for example, has explicitly outlined different EE concepts in its syllabus framework. An increased emphasis is put on an issue-enquiry approach in the teaching of these subjects, whereby students are guided to explore into the causes of and different views towards an environmental issue, to make informed judgment and suggest alternative ways for the solution of environmental problems.
Apart from the formal curriculum, EE is promoted through pupils' participation in various activities organized by ECC and government departments such as EPD, ED and AFD. The major environmental activities in schools are provided in below.
Many school assemblies, form-teacher periods and extra-curricular activities are also EE-focused. The Community Youth Clubs (CYC) and Green Clubs in schools also organize various activities which are school-based and action-oriented to promote pupils' keen participation to protect the environment. Popular green activities include greening the school, beach cleaning and pollution-free picnic.
Schools are advised to provide an atmosphere conducive to promoting environmental awareness and encouraging active participation in environmental protection. In this connection, schools are encouraged to adopt environmental-friendly practices, e.g. saving energy, reducing water consumption, waste reduction and various recycling practices in the management of the school premises. The setting up of display boards and green corners in schools to disseminate green messages and other popular activities.
(a) Schools Environmental Award Scheme (SEAS) cum Student Environmental Protection Ambassador Scheme (SEPAS)
The Schools Environmental Award Scheme (SEAS) cum Student Environmental Protection Ambassador Scheme (SEPAS) is one of the major environmental programmes for students. This Scheme has been jointly organised by ECC and the Education Department (ED) for secondary and primary schools since 1995. The aims of the Schemes are to develop in students a sense of responsibility towards environmental protection and to encourage them to take positive actions for environmental improvement. The numbers of schools and Student Environmental Protection Ambassadors (SEPAs) participated in the Schemes for 1998/99 are 332 and 4,482 respectively.
Under these Schemes, numerous environmental education activities are organised. They include SEPAs' Training Camps, School Honour Award Project Exhibition, Outward Bound Training, Environmental Drama and overseas/mainland study visits. Thousands of students have participated in these activities. A total of 181 schools and 1,016 SEPAs took part in the SEPAs' Training Camps in 1997/98 and over 3,400 students were benefited by the School Honour Award Project Exhibition. Besides, the Student Environmental Protection Ambassador's Liaison Group (SLG) and the Student Environmental Protection Ambassadors' Alumni Club were set up to promote inter-school environmental protection activities and to bring the ex-SEPAs together for promoting environmental protection concepts to the public respectively.
(b) School Waste Paper Recycling Scheme
ECC and ED have jointly organized the School Waste Paper Recycling Scheme since 1994. The objective of the Scheme is to reinforce students with the environmental protection message of three Rs, namely "Reduce", "Reuse" and "Recycle". In 1997/98, 300 schools joined the Scheme while 38 schools joined the competition and 63,000 kg of waste paper were collected on this occasion. The Scheme was temporarily suspended in March 1998. It is intended to resume the scheme again in early 1999.
2Environmental Education in the Community
EE is promoted to various target groups of the general public through annual events, environmental activities and environmental training organized by ECC and government departments such as EPD, ED and AFD. The major ones are highlighted as follows:
The two major annual events are given as follows:
(a) Environmental Protection Festival (EPF)
The Environmental protection festival (EPF) is an annual function held by the ECC in November and December each year. While World Environmental Day (WED) is conducted in response to an international call, the EPF is a local initiative to promote environmental awareness in Hong Kong.
ECC organised Generation Treasure Hunt as a kick-off ceremony for EPF 1998. Schools were invited to form teams which consist of teachers and students, teachers and their family members, students and their families for the walk at the Peak. Moreover, to enable more citizen to participate in EPF '98, ECC had invited Children and Youth Centres in Hong Kong to organize environmental activities at district level. They organized activities echoing the theme of EPF '98 - Sustainable Development.
(b) World Environmental Day (WED)
In 1972, the United Nations designated June 5 to be the WED. It serves as annual reminder to all nations to protect the environment and fight against pollution. Since its establishment in 1990, the ECC has organized and coordinated activities to mark the WED in Hong Kong.
ECC organised an environmental workshop for teachers and students on the World Environmental Day on 5 June 1998. Assistant Directors from EPD delivered talks on Sustainable Development and Air Pollution to the audience. Moreover, representatives from The Conservancy Association, Friends of the Earth, Green Power, World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong and Hong Kong Marine Conservation held a forum on "Save our Seas".
Well-planned training programmes/seminars have been organised to deliver environmental knowledge and concepts to various sectors of the community. The major ones are provided as follows:
(a) Environmental Talks for School Students
The EPD promotes environmental education through delivering talks on different environmental issues to schools, community groups and youth centres. The talks cover a wide range of topics such as global and local environmental issues, the government's environmental work, green tips and environmental management etc. In 1998, a total of 270 talks were delivered by EPD.
(b) Training for Primary School Teachers
The EPD and the ED have jointly organized courses for primary school teachers since 1997. The course is specially designed to deliver messages on basic environmental concepts and to encourage teachers to promote environmental education in schools.
(c) Environmental Training for Tertiary Students
With private sponsorship, ECC has extended environmental protection education to the tertiary institutions since 1997/98. Tertiary students are invited to participate in environmental award projects. In 1998, 9 local university students were awarded environmental protection study visit to Sichuan of the mainland while 6 first-grade awardees of the Nation-Wide Environmental Protection Competition from mainland visited Hong Kong for 7 days.
(d) Scout Environmental Protection Ambassadors Scheme
The Scout Environmental Protection Ambassadors Scheme, which is a joint effort among Scout Association of Hong Kong, ECC and EPD, was launched on World Environment Day 1998. The objective of the scheme is to organise a comprehensive environmental training programme for Scout Instructors. 32 Scout Instructors completed the training programme. In 1999, training programme for Scout Environmental Protection Ambassadors will be launched.
(e) Training Programme for Volunteers
A training programme for Volunteers which is jointly organised by the Social Welfare Department, the ECC and EPD, is one of the major environmental activities under the Healthy Living Campaign. The objective of the training programme is to provide the volunteers with some general concept of environmental issues. The volunteers will assist in the "Waste Recycling Competition in Housing Estates". There are 132 public and private housing estates participating in the competition.
C.Support to Environmental Education
The following items are the major support to EE provided by ECC, EPD and ED.
(a) Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF)
The ECF was set up by the government in 1994 to support projects which raise environmental protection and conservation awareness. ECC assists in vetting applications for the fund. Up to the end of October 1998, funds were approved for 201 projects. The total amount of funds approved was $7.6 million of which over $2 million were granted to the green groups. Among the 201 approved projects, 52 projects were organised by schools and tertiary institutions for the students. These projects include environmental protection workshops, outdoor visits, publications; surveys, seminars and environmental protection campaigns.
(b) ECCO Bulletin
The ECCO bulletin is the ECC's mouth piece and is a bilingual bulletin. It is published once a month and is distributed free of charge to the public. The bulletin consists mainly of 4 parts, namely, the feature article, the supplementary article, the environmental protection activities column and the SEPA column. In order to arouse environmental awareness among the youth, over 4,000 copies of each issue are given to schools for circulation.
(c) EPD Visitors Centre (VC)
The EPD is responsible for managing a Visitors Centre of the department. The VC located in Revenue Tower in Wan Chai was set up in June 1994 to display government's environmental protection work in Hong Kong. It is open to the public for guided visit by appointment.
(d) EPD Environmental Resource Centres (ERCs)
The first ERC was established in Old Wan Chai Post Office in December 1993 and the second one was opened in Tak Wah Park in Tsuen Wan in May 1997. The centres are open to the public to provide an easy access to environmental information and are particularly popular for students doing projects and getting reference materials concerning environmental topics.
(e) EPD Mobile Environmental Resource Centre (ERC)
Funding from the Jockey Club has been secured for procurement of a van to set up a mobile ERC, which will be equipped with environmental publications, government leaflets, audio-visual facilities, touch-screen environmental information systems and display boards, etc. It will be used to reach out to schools, community centres, housing estates and city halls so that the general public would have an easy access to environmental information.
(f) ED Environmental Education Resources Centre
The Environmental Education Resources Centre established by the Education Department provides information and advice on environmental education for teachers. Teachers are welcome to visit the centre to search for the required education materials on environmental aspects.
(g) Education Kits for Teachers and Students
Teaching kits on various environmental topics have been produced in recent years and are made available to teachers and students. A new anti-pollution pack, "Environmental Explorer", sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Cub Charities Trust is being prepared by EPD. The pack will be distributed to secondary schools, public libraries, green groups, technical and tertiary institutes. Each pack will contain a teacher's guide, a CD-ROM, slides, transparencies and photographs for classroom teaching purposes. In addition, ECC has engaged four green groups to prepare 4 education packs on different topics for primary school students.
To promote environmental awareness, EPD and ECC organise and participate in various exhibitions, carnivals and campaign activities. Exhibition panels, video tapes, interactive computer games, information leaflets and game booths are made available for reaching out to various sectors of the community. The major activities in 1998 included Waste Recycling Competition in Housing Estates, Second Hand Bazaar, Green Mother Comics and Essay Competition, Hong Kong Tree Planting Day, Asian IT Expo, Town Gas Safety and Health Day, Green Christmas in TV program "Enjoy Yourself Tonight" and "Cleaner Fuel, Cleaner Air" Road Shows etc.
0The Way Forward
We will continue to develop and put in place a long-term community environmental education strategies targeted at all sectors of the community. The future success is dependent on how far environmental ethics can be integrated into the community and also the extent to which the community will take responsibility for dealing with environmental issues. In order to achieve this goal, we will continue to work on our existing programmes and projects. In addition, the following targets have been set to further enhance environmental education within the community:
- Strengthening publicity on environmental education;
- Reviewing the "Guidelines on EE in Schools" and incorporating appropriate elements pertaining to the promotion of EE in current and new syllabuses at all levels;
- Enhancing the Student Environmental Protection Ambassador Scheme to encourage more student-based environmental activities;
- Promoting more environmental awareness projects at district level through cooperation with community groups, green groups, District Boards and other government departments;
- Identifying suitable locations for development of new environmental resource centres in the territory;
- Establishing the mobile Environmental Resource Centre to further reach out to the public;
- Proactively reaching out to various sectors of the community and in particular, more frequent and well-planned talks, seminars and training sessions will be arranged for school teachers and students; and
- Organising well-planned training sessions to youths including Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Junior Police Call's members and Leo members etc.
Prepared By the Environmental Protection Department
in collaboration with the Education Department