One of the largest educational conferences in the Czech Republic took place in Prague. She devoted herself to eco-education

The congress was about 20-25 professional conferences held in a single week.

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Pictures | Petr Zewlakk Vrabec / WEEC

In mid-March, Prague hosted a global event attended by 550 experts from around 50 countries. As Jan Činčera says on behalf of the organizing team, it was one of the biggest educational conferences in the history of the Czech Republic. Parallel to the congress, an international youth conference on environmental education was held, attended by about 150 students.

According to Činčera, the congress corresponded in scope to about 20–25 professional conferences held in a single week. In total, there were more than three hundred conferences, workshops, symposia, round tables and field trips. It took place in a hybrid form – in person at the Prague Congress Center and online.

“The Congress was a key moment for Czech environmental education. It is now up to each participant, whether from universities or environmental education centers, how they manage to use the international credit we have obtained and the contacts gathered at the event,” says Jan Činčera.

Participants met at the Prague Congress Center and online.

Participants met at the Prague Congress Center and online.

Licence All rights reserved. Further distribution is only possible with the consent of the author

Pictures | Petr Zewlakk Vrabec / WEEC

In the Czech Republic, non-profit organizations, mainly ecological education centers, have the most sophisticated system of environmental education.

“Environmental education centers in our country play a huge and irreplaceable role. Even for many of them it would be beneficial to step outside the confines of a small Czech pond. Many of them do excellent practice that can inspire colleagues abroad,” says Jan Činčera, who works as the deputy head of the environmental studies department at Masaryk University.

“On the contrary, others could take inspiration from it and try to direct their practice towards more modern forms of environmental education. I certainly see great potential from extracurricular movements, such as scouting”, adds Cinčera.

Participant comments

“The conference was useful and rare in that people in the field of environmental education met in person after a long time. As shown by field visits, the organization of which the Association forest kindergartens also participated, the academic sphere must seep into practice for specific people and places, and vice versa. And I think this conference was very successful,” says Tereza Valkounová from the Association of Forest Kindergartens.

“I am reassured by forest nurseries that they are still an important part of change in education. And also the inspiration for a new direction from environmental education to climate education – we will now focus more on these early education goals in the nature and operation of our modest facilities, in many ways operating in a circular fashion,” adds Valkounová.

Markéta Hrnčálová of Ekocentrum Koniklec finds interviews with other congress participants to be the most useful, especially during excursions. “At that time, I could ask questions about their projects, the functioning of their organizations and even their attitudes and opinions. During the congress, I drew a lot of inspiration for further work and also a new wave of energy », underlines the speaker of the Ekocentrum Koniklec.

Congress field visit.

Congress field visit.

Licence All rights reserved. Further distribution is only possible with the consent of the author

Pictures | Petr Zewlakk Vrabec / WEEC

The conference included a presentation on the experience of growing vegetables in schools. The discussion showed how different this activity can be in different parts of the world. While in our country children’s growth activities mainly lead to their upbringing and development, on the other side of the world the situation may be different, “speaker Jana Hrdličková selects a contribution that has remained with her at the ‘spirit.” Hydroponics in a school in New York is the only possibility for harvested vegetables such as lettuce, to meet at all and taste it, because in local businesses this is not commonly the assortment available. At another school in Africa, schoolchildren make up an important part of their family’s diet, which they would find difficult to do without. It is perhaps impossible to imagine a greater link between environmental education and sustainability and everyday practice,” he adds.

Jan Činčera highlighted a few moments that interested him personally. “David Orr gave a very topical lecture on the relationship between democracy and environmental education. Arjen Wals was brilliant as always. Bertrand Piccard’s brief speech on the power of modern technology as a source of hope in the environmental education was a bit provocative, but also very strong,” says Činčera. He stresses, however, that it will be his personal responsibility to review all contributions recorded and made available to congress participants on the online platform. .

Or now?

According to Činčera, we now need to change the quality of environmental education in schools. “According to our research, the share of schools that apply environmental education procedures that we think are good is about twenty percent,” says Činčera.

“What we need to do more is to implement a participatory approach with the pupils, linking the school to the local community, involving the pupils in specific projects where they can change something and, of course, an approach at the school level – so that environmental education is not the business of a hobbyist”, adds an expert in environmental education.

However, according to Činčera, parents still play a crucial role in where children receive education and attitudes towards the environment. Next come recreational organizations, environmental education centers and social media. “Schools still play a smaller role. On the other hand, there are many schools in our country that do environmental education very well and their impact on students can be crucial in this area,” Jan concludes. Činčera.


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