As discussions are incentivising across Europe on the topic of the Just Transition, Slovakia is in the process of undergoing through an ecological disaster. The Slana River has turned orange due to underground water from the a mine belonging to the Rudne Bane mining company overflowing in the river. The leaks from the mine have a high content of iron and other chemicals previously used to mine the iron ore pocket which is now flooded. According to the mining company, the pocket has not been mined since 2008 and the pollution of the water is non-toxic for the Slovakian residents. However, the iron content is killing the fish in the Slana River as it covers the gill of the fish, reducing their breathing surface. The leak has reached as far as Hungary with the residents being worried of the implications that this would have on their livelihood.
In such moment, the necessity for education for environmental sustainability (EES) becomes clear just as much as it becomes clear that it needs to be mainstreamed in a way that impacts the lifestyle of all people. In the absence of a change in paradigm, disaster such as this one will continue repeating themselves with people remaining powerless in the face of what should be done to address such crises. The situation of EES in Slovakia is not encouraged, with the topic being sporadically and inconsistently covered in formal education while the most recent governmental strategy discussing it, National Strategy for Global Education, expiring in 2016 and still not being renewed. Just as the formal education sector is suffering from a piecemeal approach, so is the informal and non-formal education sector, with many of the challenges to mainstreaming EES stemming also from an inadequate public investment in education. More information on the situation in Slovakia regarding EES, but also regarding the way EES and citizenship education can be implemented considering the shrinking civic space, can be found in SOLIDAR Foundation’s most recent national report of Slovakia. This has been done in the framework of SOLIDAR Foundation’s annual Citizenship and Lifelong Learning Monitor. SOLIDAR Foundation recalls its recommendation from the report for providing more structured and stable investment in education associated with EES given the current crisis plaguing Slovakia.
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