Educating and Empowering Children for Governing the Anthropocene: A Case Study of Children’s Homes in Sri Lanka
Keywords:Anthropocene, children’s homes, participatory action research, ecosystems, critical systemic thinking, stewardship responsibilities, capacity building, capabilities
Educating children and young people on how to care for the environment is the focus of this paper. Today's children will encounter the adverse effects of global population growth and subsequent pollution by adults at the expense of the environment. Thus it is important to draw children's attention to carbon footprints and climatic changes. Through participation they will have opportunities to learn more about the implications of the way we choose to live our lives in the short, medium and long terms. Children learn about their rights and responsibilities by being given the opportunity to express their ideas and to translate policy into practice through small scale interventions that make a difference to this generation and succeeding ones. Such interventions can include lessons on recycling, use and re-use of resources, composting, organic and ethical farming, water and energy conservation techniques and much more.The essence of this paper has been extracted from my Participatory Action Research (PAR) on the life chances of children and young people in institutional care in Sri Lanka. This PAR largely employs qualitative investigations to manipulate the information collected during the study in order to assess and evaluate the findings. During the PAR, it was identified that some children's homes have initiated a few enhanced ecosystem governance practices that redress problems associated with the worst aspects of industrialisation. These practices promote the harmonious coexistence of humanity and nature and have adopted the concerns of critical systemic thinking with consequent improvement of human well-being and ecosystem health. The potential of these homes to provide education for these vulnerable children by improving their ability to deliver stewardship responsibilities towards the environment should never be underestimated.