Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is quite a new educational field. We can see it as an innovative type of future education for schools that links child development with future societal challenges.

I don’t think that education for sustainable development is just another buzzword that has been forgotten in a few years. From a global as well as a local perspective we need to steer education towards what will be truly useful for every child and every society in the future.

Having a fulfilling life should be within the reach of all children wherever they are born. In too many parts of society and the world children grow up in dangerous environments with very poor conditions for basic needs and bleak prospects for their future.

Education for sustainable development stems from the Brundtland Report’s focus on sustainable development (SD). The Brundtland report calls for fundamental changes in society and its institutions, in politics and in our individual family lifestyles. Economic development cannot be separated from social development and environmental concern.

ESD for child development Educational research can tell us a lot about how to use education for sustainable development for child development.

The most important fact may be that ESD is an excellent framework for empowering children. When we respect each individual child for their ideas and opinions, and at the same time take the child into difficult learning situations, we facilitate the child’s empowerment.

The development of self-esteem and empowerment goes hand in hand with education for sustainable development. Proper self-esteem is such an important part of successful child development.

Another important fact is that ESD is a productive framework for meaningful learning. As opposed to rote learning and acquiring facts without much understanding, meaningful learning situations help your child fully engage in teaching. By working with real problems, the child can develop a much better understanding of core curriculum concepts and skills in a meaningful context. Key to this is the opportunity to use and reflect on these ‘traditional’ ingredients of the classical school in the meaningful contexts derived from a focus on sustainable development.

Education for sustainable development and schools Some schools have focused on beautifying their school environment. This might help the school’s prestige in the local society, but it is not useful for sustainable development education unless it is done as a student project.

Similarly, some schools have placed a lot of emphasis on making school buildings “greener” with solar panels, recycling systems, water conservation measures, and tree planting around the school. Again, such initiatives are only good for student learning if they are planned as student projects. One cannot evaluate the quality of a school’s work with education for sustainable development from an image of the school.

Regarding a better approach to ESD, the principal and teachers should ask questions such as: – How can we challenge students’ thinking about the future and how to use parts of the core curriculum meaningfully in combination? – How can we teachers work together to create stimulating activities and plan teaching in such a way that students’ self-esteem benefits? – How can we help students investigate local people’s concern for the future and how to make sense of those findings? – How can we help students try to make a difference according to their wishes and visions?

Education for sustainable development will gain more and more publicity as the picture of environmental degradation, energy shortages, climate change, rising poverty mixed with rising wealth, and the big picture of globalization become more apparent.

We cannot blame our children for these problems, but it is our duty to educate them to be able to deal with such complex and controversial issues and to live a life of dignity with the belief that it is possible for everyone to make a difference for the better.

By skadmin

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