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