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Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has its roots in the United Nations and international history of the environmental movement. Our Common Future, the Report of the Brundtland Commission, 1987, was the first historic document endorsing sustainable development. The role of education in attending sustainable development gained worldwide momentum with the Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit in 1992, Johannesburg World Summit of Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 broadened the vision of sustainable development and re-affirmed the educational objectives of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All Dakar Framework for Action. The United Nations General Assembly in its 57th Session in December 2002, proclaimed the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development for the period 2005 – 2014.
Sustainable development is an intergenerational responsibility and emphasizes on improving the quality of human life, while protecting the earth’s capacity for regeneration.

Objectives and Strategies
SANKALP, while recognizing education for sustainable development as a life-long and life-wide endeavour; has been adopting the broad goals, spheres, thrust areas and strategies; declared in the Draft International Implementation Schemes (IIS) for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), 2005-2014. The broad goals of sustainable development are;

  • to provide an opportunity for promoting the vision of and transition to sustainable development through education, public awareness and training; and
  • to integrate and enhance the role of education and learning in sustainable development.

The three spheres of activities identified for sustainable development are;

  • environmental protection;
  • social development; and
  • economic development.

The four identified major thrusts for sustainable development, adopted/advocated by SANKALP include;

  • improving access to quality basic education;
  • reorienting existing education programmes;
  • developing public understanding and awareness; and
  • providing training.

Among the seven strategies identifies for ESD (vision-building and advocacy; consultation and ownership; partnership and networks; capacity-building and training; research and innovation; use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); and monitoring and evaluation); SANKALP has been focusing on vision-building and advocacy; capacity-building and training and; research and innovations.

Vision-building and advocacy
Sankalp has been organizing ESD programmes to impart vision to the people, particularly the students and the teachers to work for environmental protection and conservation, to live within environmental limits, to interact in just and inequitable way and to work sustainably. The programmes, organized in forms of orientations and workshops, involve the local communities. The programmes emphasize on awareness and understanding that an individual or group action can affect the life of others as well as influence the social, economical and environmental situations locally, nationally, regionally and globally; both for the present and future generations. Besides vision-building, the programmes are undertaken to promote wide-spread advocacy at all levels and involving all the stakeholders governmental agencies, civil society Organisations, non-governmental Organisations and media.

Capacity-building and training
SANKALP is organizing capacity-building and training programmes on ESD, besides covering environmental education, integrate population education and consumer education. The major groups covered under capacity-building and training are teachers, educators and students.

SANKALP has developed three set of integrated modules with a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to impart knowledge and skills needed for a sustainable future as well as to bring changes in values, behaviour and life-cycle. The modules have been prepared by three eminent environmentalists; Prof. V. Subramanian, School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU); Dr. R. D. Shukla, Head, Department of Science and Mathematics Education, NCERT, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India; and Dr. (Mrs.) Amita Biswas, Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.

THE modules have focused on three important aspects of environmental education for sustainable development; i. State of Forests and Wildlife, ii. State of Environment and; iii. State of Pollution. Mr. Vishwanath Anand, Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India has written the foreword to the models.

Research and innovations
SANKALP has been conducting research and survey to identify linkages between ESD with other aspects of learning (like literacy, numeracy, natural science and social science) and with modes of development interventions (like sectoral projects, community mobilization, networking). The research also covers quality teaching and learning approaches, particularly in primary education.

SANKALP has been adopting innovative methods and approaches to reorient education to address sustainable development in locally relevant and culturally appropriate manner. The Organisation has been ensuring community participation for integrating indigenous, traditional and local knowledge and culture into ESD programmes. The innovations and experimentations are meant to capture the unique local conditions in socially and culturally appropriate ways to integrate them into ESD programmes.

SANKALP’S programmes on ESD provide gender awareness and an alternative vision for a sustainable future. Such education addresses the interconnectedness of problems such as poverty, wasteful consumption, environmental degradation, urban decay, population growth, health and human rights violations; which affect the present generation and threaten the future generation.

The thrust in SANKALP’S strategies is to inculcate values to bring positive changes for sustainability through education. These values include;

  • respect for the human rights of future generations and a commitment to intergenerational responsibility;
  • respect and care for the greater commonality of life in all its shared aim of protecting and restoring the Earth’s ecosystems; and
  • respect for cultural diversity, and a commitment to build locally and globally a culture of tolerance, non-violence and peace.