Educators in formal and non-formal education are vital to the implementation of the DESD and its success. The world today has more than 72 million teachers and countless numbers of non-formal educators. They are essential agents of change, working at the ‘local’ level but called upon to deal with ‘global’ issues.
Teachers in primary and secondary schools around the world as well as in institutions of higher education have a significant role in creating more sustainable societies. They influence the lives of children who are fortunate enough to go to school. Teachers shape each learner’s worldview, economic potential, attitude toward others in the community, participation in community decision making and interactions with the environment. Primary and secondary teachers educate labourers, parents and citizens as well as those who go onto higher education. Teachers in higher education instruct today’s and tomorrow’s leaders and professionals of our societies. Because these professionals work in or manage people who work in every economic sector, both public and private, the influence of teachers is crucial.
Non-formal educators often work in NGOs, community centres, or governmental agencies. These educators work in many sectors of society – public health, literacy, agriculture, forestry, community development, social justice, micro-financing, basic education, etc. The need for non-formal educators is high around the world.
ESD and Teacher Education
Teacher education institutions and teacher educators are key change agents in reorienting education to address sustainability. TEIs fulfill vital roles in the global education community. They have the potential to bring changes within educational systems that will shape the knowledge and skills of future generations. Teacher education institutions serve as key change agents in transforming education and society, so such a future is possible. Teacher education institutions:
- educate new teachers
- provide professional development for practising in-service teachers by updating their knowledge and skills
- create teacher education curricula
- carry out research
- contribute to textbooks
- provide expert advice to local schools upon request
- provide expert opinion to provincial and national ministries of education
- educate and certify headmasters, principals, and other school administrators
Because of this broad influence in the education community, faculty members of teacher education institutions are perfectly situated to promote ESD.
By working with the administrations and faculties of teacher education institutions, governments can bring about systematic, economically effective change. For these reasons, countries should include teacher education institutions in their national sustainability plans.