Differences between undertaking environmental education programmes in NGO's and public schools - Croatian example

Environmental education has a key role in sustainable development. As yet Croatia has no national strategy for sustainable development education. However, many different organizations such as schools, universities and NGOs, undertake environmental education programmes (EEP). The objective of this study is to improve the status of EEPs in Croatia by encouraging schools and NGOs to develop new programmes and cooperate.

In this presentation several EEPs are analyzed to make comparisons between those developed by the Croatian Ministry of Education, and those made by NGOs. Analysis is based on available literature and personal experiences of educators working in schools and NGOs.

The Croatian National Education System (CNES) approaches environmental education as a multidisciplinary phenomenon integrated into the regular curriculum through a variety of school subjects. More specialized EEPs are either organized by schools, as extra-curricular activities, or externally through GLOBE, UNESCO-SEMEP or Eco-schools projects. Despite CNES encouragement, these school activities only engage students, not the wider public. NGOs have a leading role in organizing environmental education for different age and interest groups in Croatia. There are around 30 NGOs successfully undertaking EEPs. However, without a clear national strategy it is difficult for them to further develop due to a financial insecurity and absence of recognition by the CNES.

It is important that environmental education should not be limited to the CNES alone. NGOs fulfill a vital role in accessing all levels of society, and hence need to be included in the development and implementation of any national environmental education strategy.