Mainstreaming Environmental Education in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
In order to improve the understanding and appreciation of the islands natural resources, ANET and Kalpavriksh came together in 1996 to create a place-based and contextual environmental education teachers training manual called ‘Treasured Islands’. Designed and produced by Sunita Rao of Kalpavriksh, Treasured Islands was created both in English and in Hindi (2nd edition), to help teachers of the islands initiate environmental awareness among students, encouraging them to take an active interest in conserving the islands’ diversity, history and culture.
After the 2010 approval from the Supreme Court of India to infuse environmental education with mainstream education programmes, a circular book was issued by the Directorate of Education in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands making environmental education mandatory in all schools using Treasured Islands as a resource. Dakshin Foundation, along with ANET and a host of contributors (teachers, administrators, facilitators and many others), took this opportunity to update the existing book and align it with the CBSE curriculum. This 3rd edition of Treasured Islands has been beautifully redesigned by the students of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and aims to serve as a comprehensive resource for context-specific environmental education in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands within the framework of the school curriculum.
Currently pending approval with the Directorate of Education, this redesigned version of Treasured Islands is expected to serve as an environmental education textbook for almost 150 middle schools in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Moving forward, the project hopes to improve local capacities for environmental education by conducting numerous teacher training and capacity building workshops. Accessibility of this book will be improved by translation into locally used languages. Furthermore, researchers and educators at Dakshin Foundation are creating a suite of supplementary materials that will reinforce learning outside of dedicated classroom time through a mix of print, audio and visual tools.
The project, which will be monitored closely to identify gaps, issues and logistical constraints in implementing such a programme, has the potential to serve as an excellent model for other states in India to develop strategies to integrate environmental education into their respective curricula.
Treasured Islands has been a collaborative effort between many individuals and parties. The bulk of the concept and production was done by Kartik Shanker, Mahira Kakajiwala, Naveen Namboothri and Tasneem Khan with significant contributions from Mrinalini Siddhartha, Paroma Sengupta and Smita Madhusoodhan.