Maryland was honored Tuesday for its statewide environmental literacy standards with a silver 2015 Future Policy Award from the World Future Council, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNICEF.
State officials said the award recognized the positive effects and improved student learning that resulted from its first-in-the-nation standards, which require that students be environmentally literate prior to graduation. Other states have looked to Maryland’s standards as an example.
“We are grateful for the recognition of Maryland’s innovative work,” Guffrie Smith, president of the Maryland State Board of Education, said in a statement, pledging to “continue our efforts to support global environmental standards and help all students become capable stewards of our planet.”
The award was presented in Geneva, but state board members could not make it to ceremonies so Smith sent a video expressing appreciation, said Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education.
The board’s work on environmental education standards goes back more than two decades. In 2011, it approved a regulation requiring that all Maryland students complete a comprehensive multi-disciplinary program in environmental literacy prior to graduation.
The top honor given Tuesday — the Gold Future Policy Award — was presented for Zanzibar’s Children’s Act, described in a release as a pioneering children’s rights law that came as a response to child abuse and violence and led to “a marked societal change in attitudes towards children in Zanzibar.”
A second silver award recognized Finland’s Basic Education Act for “guaranteeing children’s equal access to high-quality education and training, irrespective of ethnic origin, age, wealth, language or location.”