Contributed by Dr. Ravhee Bholah, Associate Professor and Head of School of Science and Mathematics, Mauritius Institute of Education
The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometers off the Southeast coast of the African continent. It includes the main island Mauritius, as well as Rodrigues, Agalega, and St. Brandon. Mauritius is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa and is also known for its welfare state offerings, maintaining free health, social protection, and education, with the latter even extended to the tertiary level in 2019. Despite these, it has some challenges related to poverty and major inequality.
Being a small island developing state (SIDS), Mauritius is also characterized by inherent vulnerabilities of SIDS such as a small land area, limited natural resources and exposure to natural hazards. The main environmental challenges that the country faces are: natural disasters; coastal erosion and soil degradation; water management; loss of biodiversity; invasive species spreading; marine pollution; waste management (including food waste); energy efficiency and renewable generation; droughts, sustainable land use, and excessive pesticide use. The Government of the Republic of Mauritius has been proactive and has been developing appropriate national strategies and actions to deal with these challenges.
Policy & Practice
One major national policy document related to environmental education is Maurice Ile Durable, Policy, Strategy and Action Plan, which aims to deliver sustainable growth, with a vision for Mauritius to become a model of sustainable development. This policy document provides adequate evidence of EE embedded in a strategic framework embracing five development pillars, namely Education, Environment, Energy, Employment (Economy), and Equity. Additionally, the Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change has been playing a pivotal role in the nonformal education sector and has recently developed policy documents such as the Master Plan for the Environment in the Republic of Mauritius for the next decade and Nationally Determined Contribution Action Plan for the Republic of Mauritius 2021–2030 that embed EE. Similarly EE has been mainstreamed in the national education policy documents such as National curriculum frameworks of pre-primary, primary, and secondary education, and even embedded in that of higher education.
EE in K-12 Education
EE has been mainstreamed in the K-12 curriculum and a range of EE concepts is already being addressed in different subjects, mainly carrier subjects like sciences, social sciences, languages, design and technology.
Professional Development and Certification
Mauritius has yet to have a specific certification program for environmental educators. However, the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), a higher education institution under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology (MOETEST), is playing a pivotal role in the educator sector in the Republic of Mauritius. MIE is mandated for curriculum development, teacher education, and educational research, and thus provides a range of training programs to the pre-primary, primary, and secondary school educators. The educators get training on EE through these programs. Additionally, school educators and others (e.g., environmental educators from government organizations and NGOs) also undergo different capacity-building sessions on EE-related themes (e.g., climate change education, biodiversity education, sustainable consumption education, etc.) through workshops, seminars, and other events.
Moreover, both the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Environment often organize various events for school educators and other environmental educators (e.g., workshops, seminars, round table discussions) on a range of EE-related topics.
Mauritius has yet to establish a national environmental education association. However, the Ministry of Education has a National Eco-school Committee composed of representatives from various stakeholders that oversee national EE initiatives in addition to the Eco-school project. Likewise, the Ministry of Environment is also connected and works with many NGOs in the field of EE. Similarly, Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) has been very active in the field of EE or Education for Sustainable Development and has been collaborating with various International organizations (e.g., UNESCO, SWEDESD, Universities (e.g., Dublin City University), Office of Climate Education (OCE) and Regional organizations (e.g., Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA), South African Development Community Regional Environmental Education Centre (SADC REEC), and local stakeholders (Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Education, NGOs, private sectors and others) on EE-related themes.
It is noteworthy that the MIE works with schools, educators, and other relevant stakeholders through communities of practice.
EE in National Government
The Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change has a Department of Information and Education, which is responsible for awareness-raising and for sensitization. Its role is to promote informal environmental education to change attitudes and behaviors of people for a greener, cleaner, and sustainable Mauritius.
National EE Campaigns and Funding
Local funding bodies, mainly the Higher Education Commission, Mauritius Innovation and Research Council, other government bodies such as the Ministry of Finance, and International agencies (e.g., UNDP, COI, EU, US Embassy) provide project grant schemes. Both government organizations and NGOs apply for funding for their respective projects related to different themes, including EE. One major EE project by the REEF Conservation is the Eco-schools project.
The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Environment are two major government bodies that play active roles in EE. The Mauritius Institute of Education is the most active in EE in the formal education sector at the national level. It has been organizing a range of EE-related events at institutional, national, and international levels. In the non-formal sector, NGOs such as REEF Conservation, Ecosud, Association du Developpement Durable, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, and Biodiversity Environment Institute have been very active as well.
The Government of the Republic of Mauritius has a strong commitment to promoting EE in the Republic. The Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change has recently organized “Assise de l’Environnement” whereby all stakeholders and the public had the opportunity to participate and give their views, suggestions, and comments on various themes including “Environment Stewardship”. Voices from youth, women, and other stakeholders were heard to develop the “Environment in the Republic of Mauritius for the next decade” (see this slide deck presentation overviewing this document which is being drafted).