Key person interview Report 2: Why Does Panasonic Offer Global Eco Learning?- Globally Expanding New Program Based on the Experience of "Eco Mono Gatari" -
Panasonic offers "global eco learning" for places like schools by training employees in each country to be instructors. During fiscal 2010, utilizing the five module Eco Learning Program provided by the Corporate Citizenship Group of Panasonic Corporate Communications Division, eco learning was offered to approximately 110,000 youngsters through lessons held at elementary and junior high schools around the world; after-school programs; factory tours, etc.
According to Michiko Ogawa, General Manager of Corporate Citizenship Group of Panasonic Corporate Communications Division, "A sustainable society is created by people. In order for children, who will forge the future of the earth, to grow up healthy and maximize their ability and potential, it is incumbent upon adults to provide them with opportunities to learn. To this end, global eco learning is one of the practical activities that Panasonic Group addresses." We talked with GM Ogawa on Panasonic Group's initiative for global eco learning.
Five Modules Eco Learning Program
Panasonic's philosophy for corporate citizenship activities is "Human resources development and Harmony with environment" with a view to realizing a sustainable society. The basic stance is that by considering the main business and corporate citizenship activities as equally integral elements, they should be evolved in a balanced way that is in harmony with the changing times. The priority areas for corporate citizenship activities are "Environment" and "Support to develop the next generation."
In the area of Environment, representative activities include "Panasonic ECO RELAY for Sustainable Earth (Panasonic ECO RELAY)" and biodiversity conservation activity in support of WWF. In the area of Support to develop the next generation, "Panasonic Eco Learning Program" is the biggest project.
To create a sustainable society, it is vital to nurture those children who will forge the future of the earth. In this context, Panasonic offers "global eco learning" to provide elementary school and junior high school students around the world with opportunities to learn, so that they can increase their environmental awareness, actually see the impact of global warming and the crisis affecting biodiversity, and take concrete action accordingly. During 2010, necessary study materials were prepared and the Eco Learning Program was developed.
GM Ogawa explained, "To facilitate Panasonic Group employees around the world to conduct eco learning, the Eco Learning Program was developed in fiscal 2010 as a new support program. It consists of five modules and guidebooks are provided accordingly. It is possible to educate children by using these modules in different combinations."
The Eco Learning Program consists of five modules. Two modules are base programs: "Causes and Effects of Global Warming" which focuses on how global warming occurs and what impact it has and "Understanding the Importance of Biodiversity" which focuses on how varieties of life forms live together in a complex relationship. Three other modules are offered as expanded programs to learn about Panasonic's environmental technologies: "Thinking about the Environment: Eco Technology" which focuses on Panasonic's environmental technologies that realize a "zero CO2-emission-lifestyle; "Creating Products with the Environment in Mind" which focuses on people engaging in eco-friendly manufacturing, in terms of their roles, efforts, and innovation; and "Thinking about the Environment: Eco Life" which gives children opportunities to think about the eco-friendly lifestyle they can lead to help prevent global warming in their daily living.
Each module can be finished in approximately 30 minutes. Modules may be used alone or in various combinations according to the circumstances.
For example, one and half hour eco learning course can be organized for elementary school children by combining some of these short programs with a factory tour.
To facilitate the use of the program by employees trained to be instructors, a speaking guide called the "Anyone Can Do It! - Talk Scenario Guide (for instructors)" and "slides and worksheets with pictures" are provided. These materials enable advance preparation without affecting employees' day-to-day work. This is another distinctive feature of the program.
"Panasonic has received requests from various entities, including elementary schools, to help their eco education. However, there has been employee feedback, such as that there is a need for ready-to-use study materials; there is no time to organize lessons; it's difficult to know where to start; and they want to start without a heavy burden. In response to these requests and comments, the Eco Learning Program was developed."
Employees in charge of conducting in-school lessons, etc. receive advance training to master techniques to explain things in a plain way. Thus, diligent efforts are being made to facilitate creation of lessons that can be easily understood by children.
Worldwide expansion based on "Eco Mono Gatari"
"Eco Mono Gatari was awarded a "Career Education
Award" Grand Prize
by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Eco Learning Program was developed based on the "Eco Mono Gatari" (Eco and manufacturing story in Japanese) which has been promoted in Japan since fiscal 2008.
"Eco Mono Gatari" is a social/environmental study program, which can be conducted as part of the fifth grade social studies unit - "Roles of people who support industrial manufacturing." Using home appliances familiar to children, this study program presents three aspects: 1) Social studies to think about the roles of industrial products that support people's daily lives; 2) Eco education to think about the roles of technologies that support a recycling-oriented society and the role of individual people; and 3) Career education to think about types of work through learning about the efforts and innovative ideas of people engaged in manufacturing. Study materials include a home appliance history quiz, home appliance timeline, and statistical data and pictures related to home appliances. As part of the program, Panasonic's eco ideas campaign is introduced.
Eco Learning Program is an advanced study program developed based on the know-how acquired through Eco Mono Gatari. Just as the name implies, its major characteristic is that it is promoted globally. In fact, looking around the world, though there are companies that offer eco education in their own country, there is no other company that offers eco education on a global scale.
During fiscal 2010, Panasonic Group conducted eco learning in China, India, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and European countries, including Germany, U.K., and Romania. Approximately 110,000 children have participated so far. For the U.S. and Canada, where the "North America 'eco ideas' Declaration" was announced in January 2011, there is a plan to provide at least half a million children with eco learning by 2013. Through active utilization of the Eco Learning Program, it is expected that activities will be increasingly developed.
In particular, positive efforts are being made in China. In Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Dalian, Hangzhou, and Zhuhai, 225 employees from 60 Panasonic Group companies, who have been trained to be instructors, are engaged in a project to offer eco education to 53,000 children. Study materials for lower graders have been developed locally in China and are being used in combination with the Eco Learning Program. Thus, they are promoting eco education tailored to the educational circumstances in China. In its 2009 declaration, Panasonic announced an objective to offer eco learning to one million children in China in the coming decade. To this end, actions are steadily being undertaken.
In India, eco learning is being conducted in seven major cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, and Ahmedabad. To increase public awareness, a dedicated website for India and goods related to eco education are available. As a result, 17,000 children have received eco learning so far.