Ever been outside for a school lesson?

Do you remember being outside for one of your school lessons? Given the way the outdoors is a fun way of translating classroom theory into real life, the chances are you will!

For World Environment Day, UN Environment’s Europe Office and the naturalist and documentary-maker David Attenborough called on schools to connect pupils with nature and hold one of their lessons outdoors around 5 June.

“This World Environment Day, I encourage you to enrich your curiosity and enjoy a lesson in the nature. We are very much a part of it — wherever you are from and whatever you are studying,” Sir David underlined in the call. As a result, scores of schools from as far afield as Poland, Algeria, Russia, Ukraine, Malta, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and as many as 30 from Bosnia and Herzegovina celebrated the day by lighting children’s passion to care for the environment.

The 11th grade students from the Elias Canetti Vocational School of Economics and Management in Ruse, Bulgaria, celebrated the Day by having their English lesson in the open. The students shared their ideas of protecting the environment and raised awareness of this global issue by reading self-written essays on the problem. Around 30 children meanwhile attended UN a visit to an Elk Farm in Russia’s Kostroma region organized by UN Environment involving animal feedings, an eco-quest and education session.

Most of the children had previously “only seen dogs and cats,” said Nadezhda Stepanova, one of their teachers. “Yet here they came into contact with the forest, listened to nightingales sing and could feed elks and their calves. I think that this connection to nature will live in their hearts for a long time,” she enthused.

In Obolon elementary and high school in Kiev, Ukraine, teachers gave an English lesson amidst nature. The students were reminded of the benefits nature provides, such as food, clothing and shelter. “Nature’s gifts are often hard to value in monetary terms, like clean air, they are often taken for granted,” they concluded.

The elementary school students discussed the importance of preserving wildlife, while secondary school students focused on how to make their nearby surroundings safe and clean to enjoy a safer, cleaner and more prosperous future. At the end of the lesson the students agreed that everyone was responsible for saving their environment.

Pupils from the Antuna Branka Šimića primary school in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina visited a farm, park and river clearly connected with nature for the day, as upon their return they decided to clean the school yard!

San Lawrenz school in Malta set up a reading corner in the school orchard. There, children “either read, have lessons or just enjoy the chirping. Biology was meanwhile taught outdoors in Gomel Gymnasia, Belarus “as a gesture of solidarity with our planet and its resources”, as well as in the Gheorghe Sincai school in Salaj, Romania. 

San Lawrenz school in Malta set up a reading corner in the school orchard. There, children “either read, have lessons or just enjoy the chirping of birds in this quiet corner,” said Professor Saviour Tabone.

The Helen Keller Resource Centre in Malta also brought children outdoors for a memorable lesson amid nature, as did the E-Matthieu Institute in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo; and the Zespół Szkół 3 school in Legionowo, Poland. We know that — if touched by nature early on in their lives — children can be spurred to protect our world and help ensure its sustainability as they grow up. “There isn’t a child that doesn’t get filled by wonder by nature, even from a very early age,” Sir David underlined.

For more information contact isabelle.valentiny@unenvironment.org or mark.grassi@unenenvironment.org