Extension course has Ecological Footprint module
The course, coordinated by the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UFMS), is designed to qualify 600 educators, including teachers, education managers, students and other members of the school community and will have a module specifically dedicated to the Ecological Footprint with components prepared and offered by WWF-Brazil. The initiative is part of the Brazilian Ministry of Education’s Comissão de Meio Ambiente e Qualidade de Vida (Environment and Quality of Life Committee) Sustainable Schools project destined to stimulate the formation of sustainable educational spaces in government-run schools.
The qualification is offered in a distance learning mode and is scheduled to begin in mid-November and continue through to March 2013. The contents of the module addressing Ecological Footprint will be supplied by WWF-Brazil.
Last Saturday (October 27), the University organised a live, face to face meeting attended by the 30 tutors that will actually be providing the training and qualification to participating teachers. WWF-Brazil conservation officer and environmental education specialist Terezinha Martins took part in the class and made a presentation on the subject of Ecological Footprint.
She is convinced that by becoming a subject that is an integral part of the University’s continuous qualification curriculum under the auspices of an official public policy adopted by the Ministry of Education, the work of the Ecological Footprint is greatly enhanced. “We now have an opportunity to expand this process as the subject takes root in universities’ postgraduate environmental education courses”, she enthuses.
WWF-Brazil’s conservation director Michael Becker considers the partnership arrangement with the university to be highly important for the work on the Ecological Footprint of the city of Campo Grande because of the capillarity that is inherent to a course of this type. “We consider this to be an excellent opportunity to expand the Ecological Footprint concept n the school environment and involve young people, stimulating them to change their habits and make more sustainable use of natural resources to try and reduce the city’s Footprint”, he declares.
Theory and Practice- This is the course’s second year. It is offered by issuing a public call to participate and schools need to formalise their adherence to the programme. 200 educators took part in the first edition of the course. “This time we are in a position to offer the course to 60 schools with 10 participants each so we expect to have around 600 participating altogether”, says Icléia Vargas.
The UFMS’s coordinator for the programme, professor Icléia Vargas explains that at the moment the course is 90 hours long but the intention is to up the study hours to 120 the next time the course is offered.
The first module of the course is on the Ecological Footprint. The third module consists of practical activities under the heading ‘Community and Eco-techniques for Sustainability’. To that end, the group in each school will come up with its own ideas and propose “some kind of sustainable action to be unfolded in the school environment”, Icléia explains.
The idea behind having practical activities is to develop eco-techniques that can contribute towards improving the schools’ physical conditions and to enhancing their sustainability. Each group will choose whichever technique it considers to be most appropriate for its own school, for example, establishing a kitchen garden, capturing and storing rainwater, selective collection of waste and residues, or making use of ingredients that are locally produced and organic products in preparing school meals and snacks. The decision is up to the collective group, says Icléia. The work will be accompanied by the group responsible for the management of the city of Campo Grande’s Ecological Footprint, which will be giving its full support to the implantation of sustainable schools.
The costs of implanting the technology and techniques will be met with the financial resources of the new, recently approved pro-sustainability ramification of the Ministry of Education programme Dinheiro Direto na Escola – PDDE (Direct Transfer of Funds to Schools). “This PDDE is a victory achieved by the Environmental Education group and has been specifically designed to support the implantation of sustainable schools”, states professor Icléia.
The virtual environment in which the course will be offered is called ‘Moodle’; an online platform specifically tailored for administering distance learning course. The schools have their own laboratories equipped with computers and with access to the Internet. The groups will be working in those environments and will also receive printed material to back up the process.
In addition to the teacher training course, the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul is also stimulating academic research into the same field. This Monday (Oct. 29) the university launched an official call for participation in a postgraduate (lato sensu) course on Environmental Education and Sustainable Educational Spaces with 200 places on offer throughout the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.
Campo Grande’ Ecological Footprint
The UFMS is one of the institutions that make up the Campo Grande Ecological Footprint Management Group working alongside WWF-Brazil and the Municipal Authority. Activities began with the work of calculating the ecological footprint of this capital city of the state of Mato Grosso and the first Brazilian city to undertake the calculation. Following that a group was established to take responsibility for mobilisation and mitigation (impact-reducing) activities.
The management group consists of representatives of WWF-Brazil, the Municipal Department of Education, the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, the Dom Bosco Catholic University, the Permaculture Institute, the Kairós-Coletivo Jovem, the Solidarity Economy Network, the Mato Grosso do Sul Association of Privately-Owned Nature Reserves and the Espaço Imaginário organisation.
In two years of activities, over 500 teachers (45% of the teachers in the municipal schools network) have received training on the Ecological Footprint tool. The experience has also been presented at two editions of the Sustainable Solutions Exhibition in Campo Grande and at the 7th Brazilian Environmental Education Forum held in Salvador in the state of Bahia. In May 2012, WWF-Brazil received the Campo Grande Council’s Ecology and Environmentalism award in recognition of the work it carried out in calculating Campo Grande’s Ecological Footprint.
The Campo Grande experience aroused the interest São Paulo and in time the Ecological Footprint calculation was carried out for both the city and the state of São Paulo. The results were officially published jointly by WWF-Brazil and the São Palo state and municipal governments at the Rio+20 event.
About the Ecological Footprint
The ecological footprint of a country, city or individual corresponds to the amount of productive land or sea areas needed to produce and sustain a given lifestyle. It is a way of translating into hectares the average territorial extension that a person or an entire society ‘uses’ to sustain their nutritional, housing, mobility, leisure and consumption habits, among others. Expressed in global hectares (gha), it makes it possible to compare different consumption patterns and verify whether they lie within the planet’s effective ecological capacity.