Inclusion of ESD in school curricula and activities on course

Stakeholders and participants of the Capacity Building Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (CAP-ESD) met in Harare on 31st January 2020 to review their Change Projects. Participants reviewed each other’s project presentations through a checklist for the projects’ contribution towards relevant national policies and strategies, alignment to national and institutional curricula, a clear ESD thrust and fostering lifelong learning in 21st century competencies. The presentations showed that there is progress towards the inclusion of ESD in school curricula and activities.

Projects presented included Engineering for sustainable development; Teaching and learning programmes for incarcerated children; Indigenous Knowledge Systems; Hydroponic systems; and the Integration of ESD into the industrial attachment for students. 

The peer responses and reviews showed that most projects met the standards set for a successful and quality Change Project Initiative. However, the fostering of lifelong education and inter-departmental engagement and communication within the institutions was not clearly brought to light in most project presentations. Suggestions were given by peers and stakeholders to help improve each project so that all projects are in line with the intended goal of integrating ESD into the education system.

The participants were urged to build evidence towards their projects so as to approach examination and education assessment boards for policy changes on assessment types and to also encourage ESD inclusion in the curriculum. It was noted in the presentations of Change Projects that education assessment does not assess the day to day skills and abilities of students for 21st century competencies. Most of the examinations are about learning a set type of questions with the aim of just passing the examinations, yet no real life competencies are examined.

Mr. J. Juro from the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council presented on the Continuous Assessment (CA) Framework of Education. He noted that CA was brought about after the realization that testing skills exhibited in a summative examination did not measure life skills. The continuous assessment seeks to identify weaknesses in the examination system so as to come up with ways for improvement. The current examination system trains students to pass the examinations and not to have critical thinking skills. 

“Continuous Assessment is currently being developed to constitute 30% of the overall examination score,” Mr. Juro said.

Let us transform our students, let us not lose sight of that. We need an education system that prepares our students for sustainable life skills.
Julia Heiss, UNESCO ROSA Education Programme Specialist.

She commended the participants for showing passion and energy towards their Change Projects. The participants of the capacity building programme also applauded UNESCO and partners for facilitating the ease of the move towards curriculum transformation. UNESCO has helped to create synergies among institutions and inroads towards a successful ESD integration into the education system.

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