VI. INFORMATION AND TRAINING NEEDS
B. Environmental information dissemination and services
6. Education and public awareness
During the Sixth Plan period (1991-1995), various government agencies, NGOs and private sector bodies implemented environmental education and training, and awareness among Malaysians was found to be generally low. As such, the government adopted a long-term strategy for carrying out environmental education through a multidisciplinary approach in order to provide a holistic view and understanding of the environment. Environmental dimensions were introduced into the curriculum of pre-schools, primary and secondary schools and higher institutions of learning, as well as teacher training colleges. Textbooks were revised to incorporate environmental values and ensure that environmental sciences were offered by the various universities, which also set up centres for environmental research and in-service training.
On the industrial front, SIRIM embarked on a cleaner technology programme that focused on environmental problems of small and medium-scale industries (SMIs). Local authority personnel were also given training to provide them with a better understanding of solid waste management.
In the non-formal sector, there was an increase in the scope of activities and awareness programmes organized by the private sector and NGOs. hey comprised programmes for school children, quizzes and other awareness campaigns, such as the "Love Our Rivers" campaign, a tree planting campaign, a "clean and beautiful" campaign, a haze awareness campaign, as well as campaigns to educate the public on resource conservation. The campaigns were supplemented by exhibitions and various activities organized by the government in cooperation with the media, NGOs and the private sector in order to increase public environmental awareness.
A Business Council for Sustainable Development Malaysia was set up in 1992 to establish a business community that is fully committed to the care of the environment. It has promoted environmental management as a corporate priority and in 1995 launched a Sustainable Development Award for companies that met Business Council for Sustainable Development Malaysia criteria for sustainable development practices. In addition, the Malaysia International Chamber of Commerce and Industry supported the ‘Business Charter for Sustainable Development’ of the International Chamber of Commerce, which contains 16 principles that address environmental problems. The private sector also initiated campaigns on product recycling and disposal of items such as aluminium cans, plastics, paper and bottles.
The Department of Environment published various types of environmental information to further educate the public on current environmental issues and on how they could help care for the environment. The Department of Environment also produced video documentaries and exhibition materials for schools and other relevant agencies. The National Film Department undertook similar activities. The environment continued to be a regular feature in the print and electronic media, where environmental issues as well as conservation activities and issues were highlighted.
The thrust of the Seventh Malaysia Plan (1996-2000) should be to enhance the level of environmental awareness and commitment among Malaysians through: the formal education system; participation, involvement of and leadership by environmentally-committed organizations, NGOs and businesses; and the development of coherent broad-based campaign themes. In recognizing the need for environmental education to be made a life-long process, greater use should be made of the media in covering environmental events and issues and broadcasting environmental messages to schools and the public. The government should also encourage the private sector to take on a major role in promoting public awareness and should seek partners in the corporate for adopting and promoting environmentally responsible practices and processes.