Teresa Kok calls for environmental issues to be taught to kids in kindergarten

Former Primary Industries minister Teresa Kok said she was shocked that children overseas were ‘taught’ anti-palm oil messages from as early as kindergarten.

While she decried the false information, she said that teaching children about environmental issues was a step in the right direction.

She hopes children in Malaysia will soon learn to care for the environment to help battle climate change.

“I am sad that children overseas are getting the wrong information about palm oil, but I am amazed that they are taught about the environment at such a young age,” said the Seputeh MP.

“I wish Malaysian children were taught about the dangers of climate change and other environmental issues from kindergarten, too.

“We need to lobby the (Education) Ministry to find a way to teach children about these issues.”

Kok promised to bring the matter up in Parliament.

She added that she had spoken to some teachers about this, and they are supportive, as they know about the dangers of climate change.

“There must be a shift in the mindset, as many adults do not care, or are not bothered about the environment. Even those who come to my office,” said Kok.

“I nag like a grandmother – ‘separate your rubbish’ – but many do not do it. Perhaps they were not taught at an early age to care for the planet, that is why they have this attitude.

“We must change this. Maybe, if we start teaching kids from kindergarten, they will grow up to be environmentally conscious.”

While it will take time for the Education Ministry to revise the syllabus, Kok said she would start by speaking to the Kuala Lumpur Education Department to get schools involved in the annual Klang River Festival (KRF).

Kok, a keen supporter of KRF, said the event helps bring environmental issues to the fore.

This year’s KRF started on Sept 8 and ends on Sept 24 – World River Day.

“If we can get more schools involved in the festival, it will open the children’s eyes to why they must care for the river and the environment,” said Kok.

“This is the festival’s second year. It has grown to include many projects that appeal to those with various interests.

“We must do our part to spread the message to the grassroots and schools.

“We must also do more to reach out to non-English speakers, to educate them.”

Meanwhile, this year’s KRF theme – ‘Tanah Air’ – has two meanings. One is ‘homeland’ as it falls during Malaysia Day. In the environmental context, ‘Tanah Air’ means land and water.

Throughout KRF, there will be art installations, photo exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, dialogues, guided walks, live music, performing arts shows, and markets, spread along the 120km route of the Klang River.

Organised by KongsiKL and co-hosted by EXSIM, KRF brings neighbourhoods and small businesses closest to the river together, to educate the larger Klang Valley community of the importance of the river, by exploring its past and culture.

To get details on the various programmes, click here.