Last Wednesday, December 13, 2023, the Environmental Practitioners Association (EPA) held a book reading activity for students at the Dau Elementary School in Mabalacat City. We used the book “Water, Trees and Me” published by the group led by Mr. Abong Tayag. Their advocacy is the preservation of the Sapang Bato watershed, an area that recharges the groundwater supplying Clark, Angeles and Mabalacat.
The colored comic book tackles the importance of preserving trees and replanting denuded areas because it is related to the protection of our water supply. The objective is to make children aware that in addition to providing oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide and offering shade, trees play an important role in ensuring the availability of water for their generation and the next.
It is important to educate kids on environmental issues. Their future is at stake. The more kids learn about the environment, the more they will feel like they have the power to change things for the better. We may not admit it, but our generation has done a bad job at protecting nature. Look at all the environmental problems we are facing now- pollution, depletion of natural resources and climate change, among others. It’s going to be up to the next generation to turn things around.
Acknowledging the importance of starting environmental education at a young age, some of our environmental laws mandate the inclusion of environmental topics in the academic curriculum from elementary to college. Section 56 of RA 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, states that “ the national government, through the DECS (now DepEd) and in coordination with concerned government agencies, NGOs and private institutions, shall strengthen the integration of environmental concerns in school curricula at all levels”.
It has been more than twenty years since RA 9003 was passed and yet we have made slow progress in properly managing our solid waste. Children born when the law was passed are now twenty years old. Have they acquired the proper attitude when it comes to waste management? I guess it’s time for congress to use its oversight power to check the implementation of RA 9003 in the country’s educational system.
It's not only solid waste management that kids need to learn. A law was passed in December 2008 to ensure that all environmental issues are included in the academic system. Republic Act 9512, or “the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008“, mandates the DepEd, the Commission on Higher Education, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Science and Technology and other relevant agencies, to integrate environmental education in its school curricula at all levels, whether public or private, including in barangay daycare, preschool, non-formal, technical vocational, professional level, indigenous learning and out-of-school youth courses or programs.
Again, it’s time for congress to check if this law was implemented or if it achieved its purpose.