16.07.2013 - Education Sector

National Journeys towards Education for Sustainable Development

National Journeys towards Education for Sustainable Development

As the lead agency for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014), UNESCO has been a strong advocate for national education policies that integrate key sustainable development issues. Through its publication National Journeys towards Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO promotes ESD and documents how several countries use learning and education to address sustainability challenges.

After the 2011 issue that reported on practices in Chile, Indonesia, Kenya, the Netherlands and Oman, the 2013 National Journeys edition showcases ESD progress in Costa Rica, Morocco, South Africa, Sweden and Viet Nam.

The five case studies indicate that political support from the national government is vital for driving ESD processes.

The Swedish case exemplifies how strong policy support has facilitated the integration of ESD issues in national curricula and its prioritisation in Higher Education.

In Morocco, the Ministry of Education is taking concrete action to ensure effective implementation of ESD in the country, from primary to higher education.

Viet Nam adopted a National ESD Action Plan 2010-2014 – the first official strategic government endorsement of the UN Decade of ESD – thanks to the strong support from the Ministry of Education and Training and other central institutions to integrate ESD into the education system.

In Costa Rica, the Ministry of Public Education is consolidating the main ESD programme known as the Ecological Blue Banner Programme for Schools. The National Development Plan anticipates that 50% of the educational centres in Costa Rica by 2014 will participate in the programme.

In South Africa, successes include integrating ESD into policies and linking these issues to developmental priorities. South Africa also has a strong multi-stakeholder ESD community and an innovative research based orientation towards ESD.

Looking ahead, the case studies highlight the need for more ESD in teacher training programmes. This is stressed by both the Swedish and Moroccan researchers, while the South African case study also recommends the development of monitoring and assessment processes for ESD learning. Finally, to move forward with the successful implementation of ESD, sufficient financial resources should be allocated.

As stated by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova - “We reached the limits of the classical model of growth and development. This situation affects all countries”. […] “In all cases; education for sustainable development is the key - the key to disseminate new skills, the key to building a culture of sustainability”.

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