Lehendakari Urkullu stresses the contribution of the “Ingurugelak”, environmental educational centres, to making the Basque Country sustainable
- Ministers Oregi and Uriarte were with him at the event held at the Kursaal to pay tribute to 25 years’ work by teachers and students
- 220,000 school children regularly receive environmental education in the Basque Country
- The Basque Government’s School Agenda 21 project selected as one of the 25 best practices in environmental education worldwide
Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, the Basque Premier, and the Ministers for Education, Linguistic Policy and Culture, and for the Environment and Territorial Policy, Cultura Cristina Uriarte and Ana Oregi, were today at the Kursaal Conference Centre in Donostia-San Sebastián, together with over four hundred schoolchildren and teachers from all over the Basque Autonomous Community, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the environmental education centres, Ingurugelak, along with the achievements thanks to the strong presence of the School Agenda 21. During the event, 24 schools of the Basque Autonomous Community received “Sustainable School” status.
There are now 90 schools that are officially considered as “sustainable”. Those centres, which are part of the IRAES Network, are a model of educational and organisational quality and their experience is a benchmark both for the other centres of the Basque Country and in international education forums.
“Schools are a training hub for society. Families, non teaching staff, council representatives, etc, have been educated in the school setting. Appropriate waste management, sustainable mobility, biodiversity… respecting the environment are subjects already on the curriculum and in the life of the centres, where the students are at the heart of the project,“ stressed Urkullu as he congratulated the prize-winning schools.
Today, 460 schools from 118 municipalities of the Basque Country has a School Agenda 21 programme up and running, “which means that nearly 220,000 schoolchildren regularly receive education for sustainable development”, the Lehendakari explained.
Ana Oregi stressed that nowadays “talking about the environment is talking about our real life scenario, of the context in which we live our lives, of the services provided by our ecosystems and of showcasing the environmental knowledge that we have acquired as a country in recent years. The Minister for Education, Cristina Iriarte, indicated that “the school has been and is a starting point for reflecting on our consumer habits and patterns".
Thanks to the School Agenda 21 results in the Basque Country, the UNESCO has selected this project as one of the 25 best practices in environmental education worldwide. This UN body has invited the Basque Government, in the person of its Minister Ana Oregi, to showcase its model for implementing the School Agenda 21 at the World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development that the UNESCO is holding in Nagoya (Japan) from 10-12 November and which will gather together over a thousand delegates from around the world.
Over the last 25 years, the Basque Government’s environmental education policy has been deployed though a specific environmental education programme in the non-university educational system, through different lines of work including research and experiments, training academic staff and awareness raising among students.
Along with the Ingurugelak network, the Basque Government has set up different facilities in that time to meet the environmental information needs of schools and the general public. These include the Peñas Negras, Ingurugiro Etxea and Txinguid environmental interpretation centres or the Basque Biodiversity Centre. Each year, these Basque Government centres are visited by over 25,000 schoolchildren to actively take part in the workshops and visits of their environmental education programmes, along with the 80,000 visits by the general public.
When congratulating the delegates for the achievements over the last 25 years, the Lehendakari stressed that “the future of a sustainable Basque Country lies in the schools, in those of you who are working for sustainable development, as you push the government and the other authorities to ensure the sustainable management of the valuable, but finite, resources that nature offers us".