What is Education for Sustainable Development?

Written by
Dr Ayub Macharia

Tree planting Ngong
Education is the process of imparting intellectual, moral, social skills and values to learners for a particular purpose. Education is key to sustainable development.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is an emerging but dynamic concept that seeks to empower people of all ages to assume responsibility for creating, maintaining & enjoying a sustainable future. Educating people for sustainable development should provide the skills, perspectives, values and knowledge to live sustainably. ESD envisages a new approach to education that will simultaneously protect the environment and provide for social, economic and personal well–being, which together form the foundation for human and global security.
ESD is not new. The Stockholm Declaration, 1972, Principle 19 states that “Education in environmental matters, for the younger generation as well as adults, giving due consideration to the underprivileged, is essential in order to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in protecting and improving the environment in its full human dimension” Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) can be described as education that promotes development that is environmentally sound, socially equitable, culturally sensitive and economically just.
This education could be considered to have the folowing features
1. It is education that is about doing, interacting with others and changing the world.
2. Education that is enjoyable, hands-on and relevant to life outside school while addressing the problems of the world.
3. ESD provides opportunities throughout life
4. ESD entails the promotion of biological diversity, which is seen in all forms of life, habitats and ecosystems
5. ESD promotes cultural diversity.
6. ESD promotes teaching which respects indigenous and traditional knowledge and encourages the use of indigenous languages in education
7. ESD promotes positive societal values with respect at the centre: respect for others, present and future generations, difference and diversity, the environment, and for the resources of the planet we inhabit
8. ESD promotes a sense of justice, responsibility, exploration and dialogue
9. ESD promotes the adoption of positive behaviour and practices, which enable all to live a full life without being deprived of basics and ensuring that plenty is available for future generations.

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