DECADE OF ESD (2004-2014)
Global trends and priorities in Environmental Education
In December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly declaring the United Nations Decade (2005-2014) of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Education is considered as humanity’s best hope and most effective means in the quest to achieve sustainable development.
The overall goal of DESD is to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects of learning in order to learn and acquires values, behaviour and lifestyles required for a sustainable future and for positive societal transformation.
UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development has the following objectives :
• Give an enhanced profile to the central role of education and learning in the common pursuit of sustainable development ;
• Facilitate links and networking, exchange and interaction among stakeholders in Education for sustainable development ;
• Provide a space and opportunity for refining and promoting the vision of, and transitioning to sustainable development through all forms of learning and public awareness ;
• Forster increased quality of teaching and learning in education for sustainable development ;
• Develop Strategies at every level to strengthen Capacity in education for Sustainable development
Education for Sustainable Development
Education is key to sustainable development. Educating people for sustainable development should provide the skills, perspectives, values and knowledge to live sustainability and must be and interdisciplinary i.e. integrating concepts and analytical tools from a variety of disciplines be reoriented to include the changes needed to promote sustainable development.
ESD was first described in Chapter 36 of Agenda 21. Identified four major thrusts ; improve basic education ; reorient existing education to address sustainable development, develop public understating, awareness, and training. ESD is therefore an emerging but dynamic concept that seeks to empower people of all ages to assume responsibility for creating, maintaining and enjoying a sustainable future. The aim is not only for the educator and the learner to understand the issues of sustainable development but also to cope with and act upon the interdisciplinary of the issue.
The WSSD that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002, recognized two key aspects of education in relation to sustainable development. First, education is the foundation for sustainable development and much of the work on ESD is closely linked to the pursuit of EFA. Second, education is a key instrument for bringing about changes in values and attitudes, skills, behaviour and lifestyles consistent with sustainable development. Therefore, it is a tool for addressing issues around the three pillars of sustainable development - society, environment and economy. It includes, among others, education for poverty alleviation, human rights, gender equity, cultural diversity, international understanding and peace, among others. The overall aim of ESD is to empower citizens to act for positive environmental and social change by giving people knowledge and skills to help them find new solutions to their social, economic and environmental issues.
ESD is for everyone, within a perspective of lifelong learning and engaging all possible spaces of learning (formal, non-formal and informal). It calls for a re-orientation of educational approaches – curriculum and content, pedagogy and examinations. ESD addresses key areas of sustainable development with culture as an underlying dimension. The vision underscores certain values in each pillar as follows :
Society : understanding social institutions and their role in change and development, as well as the democratic and participatory systems, which give opportunity for the expression of opinion, the selection of governments, the forging of consensus and the resolution of differences.
Environment : awareness of the resources and fragility of the physical environment and the effects of human decisions and activities with the commitment of integrating environmental concerns into social and economic policy development.
Economy : sensitivity to the limits and potential of economic growth and their impact on social and quality of the environment, with a commitment to assess personal and societal levels of consumption for concerns of the environment and social justice.
The Decade provides context and relevance for learning and addresses all levels and modalities of education, including technical, industrial, vocational and entrepreneurship training (TIVET), higher education, communication and media and corporate training programmes. Moreover, it promotes the societal goal of sustainable development, which results from quality education programmes.
The objectives of ESD in the context of DESD are :
• To promote and improve basic education, including literacy and lifelong learning for
sustainable livelihoods, with emphasis on access, opportunity and quality outcomes for
children and youth in and out-of-school, and adult literacy.
• To orient existing education programmes at all levels (content and processes) to promote the social, environmental, cultural and economic knowledge, skills, perspectives and values inherent to sustainability.
• To create public awareness and build understanding of, the principles of sustainable
development, with emphasis on the roles of the media and civil society.
• To develop training programmes for imparting skills to promote sustainability practices.
• To develop strategies at every level to enhance capacity for ESD.
In order to realize the above objectives, the Decade has proposed seven strategies. These are advocacy and vision-building ; consultation and ownership ; partnership and networks ; capacity-building and training ; research and innovation ; use of information and communication technologies ; and monitoring and evaluation.