On 5th June, a couple of schools near my house (and a lot of other schools too) decided that it would be nice to get school kids to hold placards that read “Save trees” or “Save environment” and make them walk down roads shouting the same. It was all very admirable of the schools but it got me wondering, is that enough? Is there a point in trying to put across such an important message, to both the students and to the public, on just one day of the year?

In school, I distinctly remember hating the subject “Environmental Science” and I’m not very sure anybody else in my class liked it either. I’m not sure any school kid likes it today. This, I think, is because of the way this “subject” is handled. The teachers themselves don’t give much attention to it. It is considered a far less important subject than mathematics and the sciences. If I remember right, we just had that subject till 4th standard! I don’t want to start off on how much schooling is screwed up, but because “getting more marks” is the highest priority for students, parents and teachers, a topic as important as this is being ignored simply because it is not in the curriculum. I don’t mean to devalue the intent of the schools or the students who participated in these walks on environment day, but is it really effective in the long run if a sense of protecting the environment isn’t deeply inculcated in everybody? I don’t think there are many schools who concentrate as much on educating their students on the importance of preserving fuel, power and the environment as they concentrate on marks.

The people ‘running the show’ today seem to have little or no idea about the environment. There exist some monumental morons who seem to think that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was a natural disaster. In the recent past, South Banglaore’s greenery has reduced. 73 trees are being cut near Tagore circle in Basavanagudi to make way for an underpass. Earlier, a whole lot of trees were cut near National High School to make way for a flyover. What’s worse, the flyover was never necessary then and now, the underpass isn’t necessary either. Nanda road, with so many trees on both sides that it always looked like sundown, is all set to lose its amazing charm. This is just a very small number of examples.

Clearly it is an absolute necessity that the current generation be properly educated about saving trees, climate change and alternative fuels. I don’t just mean schools. VTU too had a “course” on environmental education, which was nothing short of rubbish. Actually, it does not make sense to have it as a “subject” at all. It is way too important to be a subject that students study to get some marks. In school, we had an English teacher called Padma Sharma. She always used to say, “Reading and learning are two vastly different things”. Somehow, these protest walks the school students staged and the subjects like “Environmental Science” seem analogous to “reading” and not “learning”. The environment certainly deserves more attention than that.

P.S: My intent here is not to say that the people responsible aren’t doing anything to save trees or to protect the environment; my intent is to emphasize that proper education about the environment and climate change isn’t being provided at any level, especially at schools.