NGO Contribution to realisation of governmental tasks in environmental education IN HUNGARY
Kriszta Vásárhelyi and Gabriella Ádám
Green-chain (Körlánc) Countrywide Association for Environmental Education
Address: Kaszap u. 6-14, Kecskemét, H-6000 Hungary

E-mail: vasarhelyikriszta@yahoo.co.uk, csimpo@hotmail.com
Web: http://korlanc.uw.hu









According to Hungarian legislation, all schools have to prepare an educational program, and since the 2004/2005 school year this includes an environmental and health education program and its implementation.
This process was supported with various guiding documents prepared by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, and the larger NGOs were invited to participate in preparation and disseminatation of these materials.
As a cooperation of these two ministries, a small office facilitating environmental education was established in 2000. It disseminated information to large networks of kindergartens, schools, NGOs and other institutions.
The Körlánc (Green-chain) Association, one of the largest countrywide NGOs on environmental education (EE), and Education for Sustainability (EFS), has been established in 1992. This community based programs of this NGO include annual conferences, seminars, environmental educational innovations. It established a national network of 8 regional working groups. Körlánc also took part in preparation of the above-mentioned educational guides.
In 2005 a creative children club named Zöldfülû (Youngling), was established by university students, in collaboration with a large EE centre for children aged 5-10 in the capital, Budapest. Programs include visits to the natural sites, museums, and various creative, co-operative games and a summer camp.
In this paper, the situation of EE in Hungary today, including the relevant activities of the NGOs, field study centres and Eco-schools are described. The goals, activities, methods, networking of the Körlánc Association, the role and importance of our children club are presented, as well.


Hungary's Environmental education has developed significantly in recent years. A cooperation agreement has been signed by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environment and Water for the purpose of developing environmental education in schools between 2002-2008. The cooperation agreement has been accepted as a renewal of an agreement signed between the two ministries in 1999 that had in the meantime expired.
The basic principles of the cooperation are to harmonise environmental and policy, and to ensure that the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Ministry of Education are strategic and operative partners in the field of environmental education

Torino PPT 

Sulinova (www.sulinova.hu) is a private agency for educational developments and modernisation, which stresses the importance of educating sustainability in all subjects. Sulinova is responsible for the teacher trainings, the development of subjects, intersubjects, cultivation, tools and methods, forming project teams and distribution and evaluation of completed educational tools. They are also a research centre for developing skills and quality improvement.

The countrywide EE associations
Hungary has seven countrywide and hundreds of local and regional associations for EE (see Figure 1.). One of these seven countrywide associations is Körlánc, which we were representing at WEEC as well.

Hungarian Society for Environmental Education, MKNE (www.mkne.hu) organises conferences, in-service teacher trainings and they have published the National EE Strategy (2003). The mission of this society is to increase the environmental awareness and knowledge, to disseminate good practices of EE, to improve the interpersonal skills of environmental educators, to develop ethics based on the respect of nature and mankind and to train competences needed for the ecological sustainability.

The Independent Ecological Centre IEC, (www.foek.hu) was founded 1989 in Budapest. Its earliest programme has covered environmental education: identifying and visiting the existing schools and workshops in that year. Since that IEC has worked in the field of EE on several levels: innovative teachers' trainings, adult or inter-generational education, EE on the Internet: Integrative EE, i.e. landscape education based EE programmes, Field Study Centre at the Lake Balaton Highlands (Vigántpetend) offering programs like The Landscape is Your Cradle, Sustainable Forests, Round the Year, Arts and Crafts in the Countryside.

Association of Forest/ Open-air Schools, AFOAS (www.erdiskegy.hu): The main aim of this association is to join those educational institutions which regularly organise activities in order to make students become more familiar with our social and natural environment, to promote and develop the values, the necessary and proper behaviour and thinking in order to maintain the sustainable development, become environmentally conscious and be aware of the importance of protecting the nature. These activities are parts of the schools' curriculum and are organised during the school terms. The schools, joining this association, think that open-air or forest schools are comprehensive projects which concentrate on gaining knowledge through experiences and in a holistic way.

Zöld Szív (Green Heart) Nature Conserving Association for Youth, ZSZ (www.c3.hu/~zsziv) was established in 1989. Their aim is to form attitudes towards nature, to educate children to love and respect nature. They have got 18.000 members countrywide in Hungary and in Romania. They run various projects: international river-watching network, natural educational programs, e.g. forest-, meadow- and stream projects, "Old Tree" projects to get to know and save ecological values, Green Heart-families, -kindergartens, -artists and the special prize of a "Green Heart Village". Regional centre help the work of smaller groups. Each group has a task to adopt and take care of a natural value. Green Heart cooperates with other EE associations. They organize teacher trainings, summer camps and a three-day national meeting in every year.

The E-mission Society for Protection of Nature and Environment (www.e-misszio.hu) was founded in 1988 with 30 members. Now they work with 600 people (mostly volunteers, activists) around Hungary and in some neighbouring countries. The E-mission's goal is to have sustainable natural and built environment, where an environmentally conscious society can live using local, natural, economical and social sources. Among the sociesty's aims environmental education has a highlighted role. Their educational centre works to develop a behaviour and lifestyle, which is responsible for nature, and to create a mental, emotional, moral and aesthetical basis for respecting and knowing nature. They have a library, series of lectures, clubs, contests, teacher trainings, outdoor school activities, in the summer biking and arts and crafts camps. They have programs for all ages.

Active Relaxation and Environmental Education South-Transdanubian Society, AREESTS (www.gyeregyalog.hu). This society aims at supporting market access for the services and values of people, civil organizations and companies who actively promote the values and importance of nature and the environment surrounding us, the environmental education outside the schools and the sustainable environmental development in a "learn by playing manner". Every organisation or person can join the society who acts in our region and can provide such services - one special only or covering multiple areas - for a group of children and those who agree with their mission statement.

Körlánc (http://korlanc.uw.hu/korlanc.uw.hu) came to life in 1992 as a result of an intergovernmental agreement between Hungary and the USA to promote the environmental education in Hungary. Its name represents cooperation and interdependence. For the sustainable development we are working out projects and programs, our members are writing and translating books to help the teacher's day-to-day work in the field of environmental education. A journal is published monthly, which contains all the information about events and tenders. Every year we organize a conference where we can change our experiences and where we can get to know the newest contributions of knowledge. Mostly these conferences are organized as part of the festival of a city.
The most important work of Körlánc is networking between teacher training colleges in Hungary. Now we have 8 fairly independent work-groups in different cities. All of our workgroups are located in teacher training colleges, where future teachers are trained for sustainable development, and they already start using their skills while they are having professional practices in primary schools and kindergartens and also in the eco-schools (which are parts of the colleges). In this way after the school-years they can take the philosophy with them.
Each work-group has a special profile, depending on the sources in that area (e.g. national parks, eco-tourism, kindergarten-pedagogy, protected plants, etc.).

Our club: Zöldfülû
The intellectual centre of Körlánc is in the capital, Budapest, and our work-group - which is the youngest - is also working there.
Zöldfülû (Youngling) is a project we started last year at Budapest. We are enthusiastic university students, who have decided to create a place for children to learn about their environment, body and senses, to feel safe and friendly about animals, plants, all the magic of nature, and have as much fun as possible.
One of our programs is the club which we organize every second week. Every time we deal with a special topic (for example water). Our sessions are built up from creative nature games, interactive learning activities, which make it different from a school lesson. We get the ideas of these games either from different books or we find them out ourselves. We find it important that the children can wholeheartedly enjoy our club, we play as much outdoor games as possible, and also we learn to create things - in December we made Christmas present from waste.
Along with the clubs, we have school holiday programmes, full-day excursions with outdoor games and activities. This summer we had a 5-day camp. Each day we discovered nature around the capital, Budapest - green islands close to our homes, which are accessible within an hour travel any time of the year.

Hungarian Network of Eco-schools
Like these associations the Hungarian Network of Eco-schools (www.okoiskola.hu) is working in Hungary as a part of the international cooperation. The Network affiliates with the network of Eco-schools that has been in action world-wide for more than ten years. The Network of Eco-schools is one of the prominently significant parts in the Environment and School Initiatives program of OECD (OECD-ENSI). The Eco-school network is the realisation of an extensive school reorganising program, where the central point is not the modification of the curriculum, but the change of the whole of the school life. In the case of Eco-schools the main aspect of changing the school life is the aspect of sustainability. However when the aspects of sustainability is put into the centre of interest other areas are highlighted. One of these areas is the alteration of the traditional lectures and classroom activities towards more practice-orientated, life-like pedagogical activities (open-air school, project methods, drama pedagogy). An another area, which is an important part of the Eco-school program, is the civic education for participant democracy. In the sustainable society there is a need for responsible minded citizens who are actively present in public life. Eco-schools try to help their students in becoming citizens like the above described. The model of sustainable conduct of living is set up in the functioning of the school and not only presented in a curricular form.
The year 2005 was the year of the launch of the Eco-school Award in Hungary. 144 school 4% of the total Hungarian Schools were awarded on 3 June 2005 by the Ministry of education and by the Ministry of Environment and Water commonly. The award is based on self-monitoring and continuous development. There are 25 compulsory criteria (compulsory to achieve in three years) and 70 optional ones. The awarded schools have a three-year work plan, which fix their steps toward the criteria, identify documentation, a deadline, and a person in charge for all of the compulsory criteria, and the selected optional ones. The control and the support of their work will be based on their work plan.
We think these 144 schools and the non-governmental organisations could play a catalyst role in the way of transformation of Hungarian society toward sustainability.