SIDS EXPERT MEETING
Capacity development for sustainable development in SIDS: building partnerships for sustainable development through education, public awareness and training
University of South Pacific - December 3 to 9, 2003

PIMD Lecture Theatre

REPORT


DAY 1

The meeting was opened by the Minister for Education (Fiji) Ro. Teimumu Kepa Introductory remarks by Al Binger and keynote address by Lino Briguglio, University of Malta Introduction of all participants

Presentations by:
Konai Helu Thaman - University of the South Pacific - Theme: Indigenous Knowledge in Education
Rex Horoi - Theme: Organization /project background

Panel discussions followed.

On Day 1 discussions mostly focused on the background of the meeting and the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA). Most of the presentations were technical papers providing vulnerability information on Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Konai Thaman's presentation was the most interesting one as she highlighted the importance of indigenous knowledge in Environmental Education. She also highlighted the fact that most of the Pacific school curricula were adaptations of foreign curricula - Fiji's curricula is greatly influenced by the New Zealand and Australian curricula. She added that curricula should be developed in the local context and should contain local and indigenous content - including language, culture etc.. She said that in most Pacific island countries, the formal education system was in conflict with indigenous education systems.

Another important statement which came up on Day 1 was that at tertiary level students are gaining knowledge and skills which they cannot apply in their own communities. A strong suggestion was brought up for the SIDS tertiary institutions to offer SIDS specific development courses at least at the graduate level.

DAY 2

Day 2 began with a series of presentations on Education and Sustainable Development (ESD) in the different SIDS region. Case studies from Belize, Seychelles, Pacific and Fiji were presented.

ESD was defined and explained by Lino Briguglio with special reference to SIDS. The most important statement in my opinion was: "ESD is the acquisition of indigenous/local knowledge, skills and upholding of values in education". He also explained a little bit about ESD in Agenda 21. He also highlighted that one of the recommendations in the BPoA was "enhance public environmental awareness and encourage participation in community action". He also spent some time in discussing the participatory, ethical and political dimensions to ESD. Very briefly: Participatory dimension: public participation in decision making is essential for sustainable development (SD)

Ethical dimension: ethics is vital in development
Political dimension: political commitment towards SD - including Government and Local authorities

This was followed by a presentation from Mr. Mustafa Toure from Belize who explained the role of information technology in ESD and the importance of information exchange among SIDS.

Ms. Seema Deo from the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme focused on the need for ESD and explained the current situation in the Pacific in regards to ESD. Main points of her presentation are as follows: ESD - focus on learning critical thinking techniques and recognizing the links between environment, economics, society, ethics (developing beliefs, values).

Discussion and recommendations

Formal Education

  • restructure of existing education systems
  • promote learner centred education for ESD
  • need for appropriate curriculum for SD in primary/secondary schools
  • Ensure syllabi deal with real issues
  • Encourage active participation in decision making processes in schools
  • Promote participatory schemes
  • Encourage environmentally friendly schools i.e. practice energy and water management, paper reusing/recycling, waste minimization etc.

Informal Education

  • Public awareness on benefits of SD principles
  • Promote value based education/training
  • Promote participatory schemes

DAY 3

The TYPE II partnership proposal for cooperation between SIDS universities was introduced to the participants by Lino Briguglio, Al Binger and K. Koshy.

The most important part of Day 3 was the break out sessions. The participants were divided into three working groups each engaging in discussions on three different themes.

The key issues which came out of the discussions of the three working groups are presented below in summary:

  • little awareness of SD
  • links between environment, society, economics are not clearly understood
  • little understanding of ecological processes at all levels of education/training
  • inefficient analytical/critical thinking skills in schools and training institutions
  • emphasis on regionalism
  • marginalized national effort in curriculum development
  • Shortage in professional (teaching) skills for SD
  • Inability to convert public awareness to behaviour change

There was a unanimous agreement that there was a need for radical changes in the educational systems of SIDS. One primary target should be teacher training institutions as well as at the teacher curriculum development level.

Recommendations

Higher Education

  • Training at universities should produce graduates with a holistic appreciation of SD with the appropriate values, ethical behaviour, and problem solving skills.
  • Tertiary education/research and outreach activities should support relevant SD concepts
  • Universities in SIDS should foster the study of the special sustainability concerns of SIDS

Primary/Secondary

  • ESD should be incorporated in the formal curriculum (also in the teacher training curriculum)
  • Capacity building of educators to deliver ESD effectively
  • Integrated ESD across the curriculum
  • Encourage whole school involvement in SD education e.g. practise SD in schools at all levels i.e. administration, teachers and students
  • More stringent and active involvement of Government in promoting ESD at all levels of education including tertiary and post secondary training

Informal Education

  • engage all stakeholders in developing educational/training programmes
  • create regional, national, international organizations/agencies database
  • clearly identify specific target audience including non-traditional professionals, judiciary and religious leaders
  • recognize the need for professional input in capacity building in the area of communication

DAY 4

On day 4 the final report and recommendations were discussed and changes additions/ modifications/ deletions) were made to the document and the Plan of Action. The report and Plan of Action were endorsed by the participants and the meeting was brought to a conclusion by Prof. Al Binger.