In Panjab University, parents get green lessons!

June 9th, 2008 - 1:15 pm ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, June 9 (IANS) Scores of parents accompanying their wards for entrance tests to various courses in Panjab University here have something unusual to kill their time with - environmental films. Instead of loitering around or sitting under trees and in the corridors of the university in the sweltering heat, many are choosing to watch a few environment-related films in the cool comfort of a small hall on campus.

The environment outreach programme launched by the Department of Geology at the university has introduced this innovative way to educate the masses about their immediate environment.

“Nowadays OCET (other combined entrance tests) exams for admissions to various departments of Panjab University are on. Every day, hundreds of students and their parents come to the university from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and even New Delhi,” points out Arun Ahluwalia, professor of geology and the man behind the concept.

The OCET examinations have been on in the university, which has around 10,000 students, from June 1.

“Our staff members are inviting people to come and see the movies. After that, they can enjoy a visit to our museum in the department. Our volunteers are moving all over the university and trying to persuade people to come to watch the movies. This free of cost programme is for four hours,” Ahluwalia said.

The geology department is the largest natural history museum in northern India. It showcases a rock and fossil collection, boasting of dinosaurs fossils, gems, minerals, stones and ores collected from all over the world.

Many scientists and even common folk have contributed to this museum for the last 50 years.

The department is showing movies brought over from the British Council that relate to global warming, wildlife and climate change. They include “Prehistoric Planet-Dino Dynasty”, “Snowball Earth”, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, “Grand Canyon” and “The Rainbow In Stone”.

“The response to this interactive session from the public is overwhelming. Many people are coming again with their children and grandchildren to watch these movies,” said Shakha Sharda, a volunteer.

“We are showing films in Hindi and English and our experts are also explaining things wherever necessary,” said Sharda who used to teach environmental studies at a college here.

Organisers of the outreach programme say they will also screen the films when admissions to various teaching departments start.

“A lot of parents and relatives come when students come seeking admission. We will screen the films then too,” one volunteer said.

Those who have watched the films say it is a better option than to roam around outside aimlessly.

“At least we will not return thinking that we wasted three or four hours waiting outside,” said Rajat Ahuja who had accompanied his friend for a test from Jalandhar.

Ahluwalia said: “We believe visuals are the best medium to convey our message. Our aim is to excite the masses about the environment and to tell them about our landscapes, glaciers, dinosaurs, icecaps, the ozone layer, global warming and other related things. In the normal course, people tend to ignore these things.”

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