The Serbian school system, as well as many others, dedicates a part to environmental education. Topics related to the environment and sustainability are integrated into various subjects, helping students develop a holistic understanding of environmental issues. This starts as early as the first grade, with the subject called “Priroda i društvo” (The nature and society), where the kids learn about ecology and the way society should treat nature.
Points for effort
Many Serbian schools have established environmental clubs or groups where students can actively engage with environmental topics, organize awareness campaigns, and participate in eco-friendly projects.
Some schools in Serbia have adopted outdoor learning practices, which involve taking students into natural environments to learn about ecosystems, biodiversity, and sustainable practices firsthand. There are certain programs, especially in the curriculum for biology, where students are encouraged to research and present solutions to environmental challenges. Some of these programs include the preparation of a herbarium, which means the students go on a “search quest” in nature to find different plants and learn where they grow, how they grow, and how they can be protected properly.
Collaboration between schools and environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is common. NGOs often provide educational resources, organize workshops for teachers, and support schools in implementing sustainable practices. One of the recent examples is “Zero waste communities”, a project and a seminar organized for teachers from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose purpose is to support teachers in the integration of circular economy topics and the concept of zero waste in everyday teaching.
While Serbia has made progress, the national curriculum may still lack up-to-date and comprehensive coverage of current environmental challenges, particularly in rural and underfunded schools. Some schools struggle with limited resources, making it difficult to provide necessary teaching materials and equipment for effective environmental education. Not all teachers in Serbia receive adequate training in environmental education, which can result in superficial or uninspiring lessons. In some cases, environmental education may not be a top priority for schools, particularly when they are focused on standardized testing and academic performance. This can lead to the neglect of important environmental topics.
Environmental education in Serbia may focus more on theory than practical experiences. Students may lack opportunities for hands-on learning and practical applications of environmental knowledge.
Chances for improvement
To improve environmental education in Serbian schools, it’s important to offer teacher training, invest in professional development programs to equip teachers with the skills and knowledge needed to teach environmental topics effectively and promote practical learning by encouraging schools to incorporate practical experiences and outdoor education to engage students in environmental issues.
By addressing these issues and promoting effective environmental education, Serbia can contribute to the development of environmentally conscious citizens who are better prepared to address environmental challenges and promote sustainability.