India observes National Pollution Prevention Day on December 2 in memory of people who lost their lives in the Bhopal gas disaster in 1984. Today as the world faces an acute climate crisis, extreme weather events, and struggles to cope with pollutants in the air and water, the most vulnerable are the children whose future depends on a healthy environment.
Rajesh Bhatia, the founder of TreeHouse chain of virtual pre-schools says, “Children are the planet’s custodians and must be sensitised to the environment now so that they can take better care of it when they grow up. Right now, the world is facing not just the pandemic but also extreme climate events. This is the time to ask why this is happening and if our children deserve to live on a distressed, unhealthy planet. The earth is asking to be healed and our children can learn right now how to look after it better."
Bhatia underscores the importance of educating children about the fact that they are the inheritors of the planet and equal stakeholders in its well-being.
He says, “At TreeHouse, we talk about environmental issues in a way that children can relate to. We connect them to larger concerns through fun activities like creating craft projects out of ‘waste.’ They learn that everything that is thrown can be useful in some way. They begin to understand the meaning of the 3 R’s (recycling, reducing and reusing) and how they help control pollution and improve our environment.”.
He says school syllabi must be more eco-sensitive and prepare children to care for their environs in simple, far-reaching ways. “Whether it is planting and taking care of plants and trees, not wasting food, conserving water and electricity, recycling paper, learning where all the waste goes, every little bit of knowledge can shape them into much more responsible adults," he adds.