Environmental Studies Centers: “Green schools” in nature
The Environmental Studies Centers in Cyprus provide a different experience of learning in nature, away from the stresses of everyday life and its problems. Students are given an opportunity to encounter a wide range of flora and fauna while having fun studying a natural environment. ESCs offer varied educational programs designed to meet the specific needs and requirements of each group through fun activities.
ESCs can be found in many areas of Cyprus: in Troodos, Athalassa, Salamiou, Akrotiri of Limassol, Pedoula and Kritou Terra. The first environmental center in Cyprus is located in the village Kritou Terra and has operated since 1995 in the abandoned primary school of the village, which was restored creating a beautiful space for environmental education. This ESC includes a classroom, library, laboratory and dorms. The presence of pupils and students gives new life to the village and was the reason for upgrading several of the abandoned houses and monuments.
According to the staff, students of all ages, scouts, teachers and professors visit the Center and learn about the environment of Cyprus, through one-day picnics and exclusive programs. Youths from various countries of Western Europe and the Middle East come to participate in the Center’s environmental activities. Depending on their interests, a group can choose from a range of activities such as hiking in the Avakas canyon, exploration of the environment through the senses and getting to know the Akamas peninsula’s forest ecology and freshwater. All activities are led by qualified young teachers.
The ESCs do not simply reproduce information and knowledge, but maintain the character of “green schools”, which are designed to provide the opportunity for teachers and students of all levels to approach environmental issues from different points of view. They also seek to link environmental topics and sustainable development, as presented in the curriculum of the Ministry of Education of Cyprus and through the particular characteristics of the regions.
Reports from the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute suggest that the implementation of alternative forms of learning and teaching techniques based on analysis and critical thinking is accomplished through the personal experience of participants. The purpose of this program is to create informed and aware citizens who will be able to take action and participate in decision-making for the improvement of the environment and the insurance of sustainability in a very pleasant manner. Issues focus on water, forests, agriculture and livestock, as well as practices for sustainability through art, history, traditions and culture. (1)
According to scientists (2) the ESCs are linked to local society and create networks for communication and cooperation, thereby strengthening the participation of local populations in their actions. They also connect standard with informal education, highlighting the environment as an essential educational tool and promoting lifelong learning.
Learn more about the Cyprus Environmental Studies Centers at esc.com.cy.
- Vergopoulou S. Skoullos M. (2007) The role of EEC in the Education for Sustainable Development, Athens
- Zachariou A. Nikolaou A. (2006/2007) Environmental Education Curriculum for elementary and pre-elementary schools, Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture, Nicosia
- Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture http://www.moec.gov.cy/dkpe/
- Cyprus Pedagogical Institute www.pi.ac.cy/