Greening the Curriculum: Current Trends in Environmental Education in Israel’s Public Schools

Spring, 2015

Source: Israel Studies Volume 20, Number 1, Spring 2015 pp. 57-85


The importance of environmental education as part of national strategies for sustainability is recognized throughout the world. In recent years, substantial efforts and many millions of shekels have been invested in developing environmental education programs in Israel’s schools. Unfortunately, outcomes in terms of pupils’ environmental literacy are far from satisfying. This article reviews the origins of environmental education in Israel, considers its evolution, describes the present situation within Israel’s educational system, as well as the major educational programs that are active in Israel today. Israel’s educational goals remain centered on security, economics, and industrial needs, without internalizing the significance of environment quality as a critical factor for healthy global and national futures as well as a prerequisite for a sustainable prosperity. The article reviews ideas for improving existing levels of environmental education and increasing the commitment of teachers and schools to inculcating related knowledge and values.


From the conclusion:

"Pursuant to innumerable recommendations over the years, it is time to truly make environmental education a compulsory subject for every Israeli pupil, from pre-elementary through secondary education. This requires a sustained effort. Just as 1994 was declared a national year of “Environmental Quality”, the school year of 2009 was declared to be “Green Year” in Israel’s educational system. New supporting materials for school staff were available on the Internet sites of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Not surprisingly, it appears that this year had little effect on environmental literacy among Israel’s school children and did little to upgrade environmental education in Israel’s schools significantly. For this, a more serious ongoing commitment by Israel’s educational authorities will be necessary. Preserving the environment cannot be a “flavor of the month”, but must be a core theme in public school experience of all Israeli children."

Updated: Jan. 28, 2015