» Sustainability starts with Teachers: ESD training for Southern African educators
26.06.2017 - Education Sector

Sustainability starts with Teachers: ESD training for Southern African educators

"Teachers have such a great task, because you are teaching the next generation”, said UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Education Qian Tang, when he visited a training workshop on Education for Sustainable Development, held from 5 to 9 June in Lusaka, Zambia. “Most importantly, when they grow up, they have to be responsible citizens who can make positive contribution to society, to peace and to sustainable development. When you do teach, do not forget that you are teaching a noble cause."

The workshop was one in a series of training activities entitled “Sustainability starts with teachers” targeting teacher education institutions. It was organized by UNESCO and partners as part of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust project “Today for Tomorrow: Coordinating and Implementing the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development”. Forty-six participants from teacher education institutions (TEIs) in four Southern African countries – Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe – attended the event.

 The training targeted teacher educators at secondary school level, as their efforts are crucial to bring about significant changes in education practices and teachers’ pedagogies. After the workshop, trainees are expected to implement their ‘Change Project’ in their workplace and share their newly acquired knowledge with colleagues in TEIs and with their students who will become teachers in the future.

“As an educator, the training opened up doors to new methods, approaches and strategies – how I can help learners to think differently and how they can address issues affecting Zambia and the whole world,” said Lilian Chipatu from the University of Zambia. “Sometimes teachers give them just information and instruction, but really learners must be empowered to take correct action.”

Frank Mtemang’ombe, from Chancellor College, Malawi, promised to share this experience with other teachers. “I believe that every teacher educator should understand the knowledge we all got here,” he said. “In college, we will able to set up a team to develop relevant skills and to analyse our own context – where do we stand, and where do we go.”

The programme included a field visit to a water and sanitation business in a poor urban area. Justin Lupele, an independent consultant on environmental education in Zambia, organized this visit and explained the necessity of ESD in this region: “ESD is an important aspect of teaching and learning in Southern Africa. We are facing many environmental issues. On one hand, the region has natural resources as a basis of development; on the other hand, there is also destruction and exploitation of them. We need an education that thinks and looks to the future as a better place to be. That’s why ESD is needed as a holistic approach to look at various pillars of sustainable development.”

The project’s overall goal is to support 120 TEIs in the Africa and Asia Pacific regions in strengthening their capacity to promote ESD. It also responds to Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, in particular to Target 4.7 which aims to ensure that by 2030, “all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development” and Target 4.c, to “substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers”.

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