Co-Author: Moharana Choudhury
We at the “Association of Assam Environmental Degree Holders”, submitted a copy of the following Memorandum on 22 February 2017, to the Chief Minister Office and Ministry of Human Resource Department, Assam separately. We sent this while we were protesting against a statewide call on the discrimination against people with degrees in environmental in government jobs.
India is a signatory of three major decisive global alignments for the next 15 years from 2015 to 2030.
Firstly, India has ratified Paris Climate Agreement in October 2016 and is now legally bound to reduce carbon emission by 30%-35% of our Gross Domestic Productivity of 2005 level in accordance with Nationally Determined Contributions.
Secondly, India is committed to fulfilling the United Nations Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.G.). The thirteenth S.D.G. specifically deals with climate change and many other sustainable development goals deal with the environment.
Thirdly, the long-term plan for the next fifteen years is significant as India signed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. It outlines the need for understanding disaster risk at national and local, as well as global and regional levels, and call for strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk.
When the Prime Minister launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014, Assam also started working on cleanliness. But unfortunately, it’s a cause of concern that the government’s recruitment drives ignore people who have a background of environmental education.
Even the positions that strictly require specialized environmental studies professionals don’t mention it in their notification brochures.
We would like to bring the government of Assam’s attention to the disastrous state of the environment and climate literacy at school and university level.
Majority of higher secondary schools lack specialized environmental education teachers. Instead, the subject is being taught by teachers who have no background in environmental education.
Universities are at the worst wherein there is a scarcity of lecturers. Even for ad-hoc positions in these universities, people with an environmental education background are neglected. People from other backgrounds are appointed to teach environmental studies. These irregularities are marginalizing qualified students & professionals holding environment degree.
The Prime Minister has shown firm commitment towards establishing a climate resilient world. We need expert environmental professionals to deal with environment-related issues.
If the state government doesn’t look into such a serious matter, the State of Assam would fail to fulfil policy gaps in the coming 15 years. There is an urgent need to issue strict guidelines to combat discrimination at the policy level and to ensure monitoring of such institutional lapses.
Current Status of Environment Education in Assam:
It is well-known to all that the Supreme Court has directed that environmental education in schools and colleges is a compulsory subject for safeguarding environmental conditions of the country but, the ground reality of this order is that this is not implemented yet neither at a state or national level completely as per inputs received from Assam state Education Department.
In schools that environmental science was introduced in year 2007-08 in Assam. It is taught as a general subject and in class 9th and 10th, it is an optional subject. Now, the subject Environmental Science has been withdrawn from schools in the year 2013-2014 and now this subject is not even in list of course curriculum in Assam state school level.
Though, the government has been emphasizing on environmental science as a subject of utmost significance, but surprisingly that subject is not a part of a legitimate curriculum. In college level, it is there as a compulsory subject but it is not in all semester of degree examination and moreover no qualified teachers are there to teach this subject.
So, the scenario is quite serious in terms of environmental consciousness. There are many awareness programs and activities done in the name of environment conservation programs in Assam. Assam has rich natural resources with a great potential of eco-tourism but, due to lack of proper awareness the state couldn’t utilize this potential.
In this respect, the Association of Assam Environmental Degree Holders (AAEDH) has submitted one Memorandum to the Chief Minister and the Education Minister of Assam on the occasion of National Call for Environment State on 22nd February 2017. it calls for the implementation of Environmental Science subject in schools and colleges in Assam, induction of Environmental Studies degree holders in the industry level.