The Indian government has recently decided to establish Eco-clubs in 55,000 schools across the country to help children understand environment and environmental problems.
With the population increasing rapidly, India's whole environment is facing a terrible pressure. To keep surroundings clean or to conserve natural resources by re-using wherever possible looks comparatively simple,but changing attitudes of one billion of people is not going to happen overnight.
"The best way to bring about a change in the environmental attitude of the society is through children. They have no vested interest. They are our future. Besides, they hold the single most important influence in any family," said an official of the Ministry of Environment and Forests of India .
Taking this into consideration, the Indian government has launched the Eco-clubs program. Each Eco-club will have 30-50 children, who show interest in environment related issues.
It will be supervised by an in-charge teacher, who is selected from among the teachers of the member schools on the basis of his/ her interest in environment related issues.
Each club will be provided by the government with a kit of resource materials in the language of their preference, apart from a token monetary grant of Rs.1000 per year for organizing different activities.
The members of the Eco-clubs set up in schools will form National Green Corps (NGC) and will be involved in conducting not only awareness programs but also action oriented projects including planting of trees, cleanliness drives in their localities and public places like Railway Stations, etc. besides interacting with communities to educate them about environmental issues.
Children of Eco-club will get an insight into nature, its diversity and the need to preserve its fragile balance. At a personal level, each child would know what is his/her relation with nature and what they can do as individuals, group and society to preserve the environment. They will in turn sensitize their friends, families and neighborhood towards nature.
The National Steering Committee of India will give overall direction to the program and ensure Eco-clubs linkages at all levels. And the District Implementation and Monitoring Committee will supervise and organize training for in-charge teachers, and monitor periodically the implementation of the scheme at the district level.
The response from State Governments has been quite encouraging. Andhra Pradesh, south of India, was the first State to start implementing the Eco-clubs programs. It has identified 2,300 schools and also conducted training programs for master trainers and in-charge teachers. Attaching importance to the program, the State government is now actively considering extending the program to all the High Schools in the State with its own funds.
India's various localities have so far initiated steps to implement the program. The Indian government is confident that by the end of the current year the program would be implemented throughout the country.