Commitment to Education
SAWS Education is an environmental education program that serves as a valuable resource to the San Antonio community. Surface water issues, groundwater issues and drinking water issues all fall under the accepted definition of environmental education (EE) and are indeed taught by various EE groups across the nation. The most widely accepted definition of EE is:
|ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION - "Environmental education is a process of developing a world population that is aware of and concerned about the total environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivation and commitment to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones."
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 1978
The 1997 National Environmental Education and Training Foundation /Roper Starch Worldwide Survey showed that most adults in the United States (95%) and most parents (96%) believe that environmental education should be taught in schools. SAWS has taken this public mandate to heart by creating a comprehensive youth program called "H2O University" that strives to make the company a "best in class" water utility. SAWS Education is:
- Student Centered: Is student-centered, providing students with information and opportunities to construct their own understanding. Participants are engaged in direct experiences and are challenged to use higher-order thinking skills. It also provides real-world contexts and issues from which concepts and skills can be learned and learners can share ideas and expertise.
- Begins Close to Home: Begins close to home by encouraging participants to understand and forge connections with their immediate surroundings. The awareness, knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavior needed for these local connections and understandings provide a basis for moving out into broader issues and gaining an expanded comprehension of causes, connections, and consequences.
- Fosters Life Skills: Fosters skills and habits that young people can use throughout their lives to understand and act on local issues. It emphasizes critical and creative thinking skills that are key in eventually formulating and evaluating alternative solutions. The education component teaches learners to work individually as well as cooperatively to improve conditions in the community.
- Establishes Social Context: Recognizes the importance of viewing the environment within the context of human influences, incorporating not only natural processes, but also an examination of economics, culture, political structure, and social equity. The ultimate goal of program is to develop an environmentally literate and SAWS knowledgeable citizenry. Through comprehensive, cohesive programs, participants explore how feelings, experiences, attitudes, and perceptions influence local water issues. They develop a sense of their rights and responsibilities as citizens and are able to understand the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in our democratic society. Knowledge, skills, and new habits of mind translate into a local citizenry that is better able to address its common problems and to create an advantage of positive opportunities for the community in which they live. (Background information taken from NAAEE, 1996).