Room to Read, Nepal
The vague concept of Sustainable Development is different according to socio, economic and environmental periphery. The situation stated in this report can make several contributions to the current debate on ESD, about the states allied to the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development. ESD is almost renamed for EE, which is narrow thinking. All the countries in this region are developing countries so it is very difficult to manage educational activities to acquire ESD form. They face significant poverty, food scarcity, ignorance and many more in their everyday life, which lead the ESD in this region to failure.
Keywords: Education for sustainable development (ESD); UNESCO; interdisciplinary; development; South Asia
Education is vital to ensuring a better quality of life and better world for human beings. The idea of Education for Sustainable (ESD) is not so older but this is the outcome of the different practices like; Nature Conservation Education (NCE) and Environmental Education (EE). After the establishment of United Nations’ Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) 2005-2014, it became more popular and worldwide. In the different consultation practices on UNDESD there is a strong agreement that environment and sustainability education should be contextual and one of its main educational objective should be to develop strategies and approaches that allow for contextually relevant learning process (Lotz-Sisitka 2006:27).
Since the concept of ESD is vague, this covers social, economic and environmental aspects. This paper focuses on some of the issues of ESD like; value education, peace education, environmental education, health education, information and communication technology and public awareness towards ESD in South Asia.
1.2 Aims and objectives
The overall aim of this study is to examine the situation of ESD in South Asia. More precise objectives are:
To present the concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
To analyze the situation of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in South Asia.
2.2 Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
It is important to keep in mind that, at the time of United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (1972), relatively few people were concerned about the state of our planet Earth. However shortly after the conference and the establishment of United Nations Environment Program (UNEP Nairobi Kenya), the theme ‘man and environment’ was added in 1975 as one of the four topics for UNEP activities, which has now become ‘Education for Sustainable Development’
In previous time, environmental education was based on the belief that certain sets of values, knowledge-perspectives and attitudes are solving of environmental problems than others. These principles should therefore be prioritized in environmental education. Accordingly, it was the task of environmental educators to formulate certain standards of environmental education and to develop both content and methods that modify the behavior of students in accordance with those values and perspectives. Recent debate on environment and development emphasizes the social and cultural context. This perspective has given rise to several approaches on environmental education that are less openly normative than the traditional methods. A point of departure for these approaches is that there are many conflicting voices about environmental questions in democratic societies and that nobody is in a neural position to decide upon what actions will be most beneficial for our environment in the future. It has therefore been stressed that environmental education should be characterized by pluralism (Gurung 2004:111-119).
The concept of ESD is not uncontroversial. For some debaters, ESD opposes pluralism in environmental education. The pointing area is the policy complied with the basis of ESD focus exclusively on the well-being of humans and ignores the intrinsic value of nature. Especially when connected with an economic market philosophy, the concept of ‘development’ implies constant economic and technological growth in line with ‘more is always better’. Some claim that, in the rhetoric of ESD, education is regarded as a tool for sustainable development, which makes education instrumental in striving for something external to itself and prescribing a preferred end. Thus, ESD is seen as a top-down concept, promoting a specific ideology created by politicians and experts in power, at the cost of the limited qualities and the critical dimensions of education (Chataut, 2007).
2.3 The United Nations’ Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD)
United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA) established the United Nations’ Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) in December 2002, through the Resolution no. 57/254. This establishment was shortly after the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio plus 10) which was held in Johannesburg in August/September of the same year. This declaration is for achieving the sustainable future with the help of education. UN designated UNESCO to lead the decade and lunched by Mr. Koichiro Matsuura on 1st March 2005.DESD focuses on ‘respect’: respect for others and respect for the planet and to the items it provides us (resources, fauna and flora). DESD promoted for the following educational schemes by breaking down the traditional ones:
Interdisciplinary and holistic learning rather than subject-based learning
Critical thinking rather than memorizing
Multi-method approaches: word, art, drama, debate etc.
Locally relevant information, rather than national
3 Current scenario of ESD in South Asia
The countries namely; Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka forms South Asia. It Covers an area of more than 5 million square kilometers, and is home to approximately 1.4 billion people, which is more than one-fifth of the world’s population.
Awareness and Perceptions of ESD
Education in this region mostly is taken as formal education. The awareness of ESD is quite low, Environmental Education (EE) is considered as the domain of formal education in both the secondary and higher level. The concept of ESD as the expansion of Environmental Education is common in between the practitioners, educators and government officials but not for general public. The ministries of the Environment and Education have been promoting EE, conducting educational activities in the areas of health education, water resources and management and urban and rural development incorporate sustainable development concepts which are not integrated across different sectors. The possibility of common vision of ESD between the public and the governments of South Asia is achievable, but it requires greater mobilization, greater participation of local communities and greater incorporation of ESD into existing policies and programs (UNESCO, 2005).
South Asia is richer than other region in cultural traditions and values. The rich cultural traditions that promote values for protection of the social environment in this region, is directly preserved in their constitutions. The philosophical beliefs and religious assumptions like; sacred properties to wildlife, forest and water resources have helped generations of communities to protect them. The virtues of peace, unity, harmony and respect for other beings in nature are normally highlighted by the faith-based teaching. Krishnamurthy Foundation in India integrates values education as part of the total understanding for the students (www.kfa.org).
The governments of this region have mostly focused on Environmental Education (EE) assuming it as an important tool for sustainable development. The South Asia Cooperative Environment Program (SACEP) and UNEP formed the South Asian Environmental Education and Training Action Plan 2000-2005, outlining activities for EE and training. During this time in South Asia, ‘Environment’ is introduced as a separate subject of study in most of the levels of formal education otherwise infused in curriculum with other subjects. Environmental protection is recognized as an integral part of the curriculum in the national policies. The networks of NGO, in collaboration with the Departments of Education and universities, conduct teacher training programs in EE. Despite abovementioned activities for environmental education, inflexible and overloaded curriculum, time constraints and a traditional approach to teaching still pose a challenge to the integration of EE in formal education. An option that could be explored for ESD is distance education networks, in Sri Lanka and India (Singh, 2007).
Health is one of the main issues of South Asia. International agencies, governments and NGOs are enthusiastically addressing a wide range of health issues. International agencies such as Save the Children have been involved in capacity-building and awareness-raising among the communities in Nepal. Both the community and private schools the programs are carried out regularly targeting HIV/AIDS, mosquito-borne diseases, diarrhea, oral health, leprosy, rabies and personal hygiene. Though the different agencies are investing a lot of fund in health related issues, but could not sufficiently reach women, the needy and country populations (Chetry, 2007).
Since conflict is the main problem of South Asia now, peace education plays vital role for the solution of it. There are peace education programs in the region: many in number and diverse in character. Some of the schools are with the curricula that reflect an overall ethos of peace. And some NGOs either work in classroom themselves or train the teachers to apply their peace education curricula. The peace education programs in this region primarily are started in response to specific phase of violence. The content of peace education programs have expanded to include issues of social security as well as traditional conflict resolution themes. Across the region, sustainability is a major concern, primarily because of the difficulties of finding long-term funding for peace education (Srinivasan, 2009).
Information and communication technology (ICT)
India, the leading country of South Asia has got strong examples of strategic ICT use for information dissemination, education and capacity- building across various sectors. As the result of 20 years of successful experience in satellite-based education, India has now lunched a satellite; EDUSAT, dedicated to education, which obviously is good signal for education for sustainable development. In the rural areas of Sri Lanka and India, rural telecentres are active towards the social and economic empowerment of the general public. In rural areas of Nepal, Bangladesh and the Maldives it is difficult to use ICT due to lack of infrastructure and connectivity but in the urban areas it is being used for different purposes including educational purpose (UNESCO 2005).
Sustainable Development is vague to define and achieving sustainability is different according to socio, economic and environmental periphery. The situation stated in this report can make several contributions to the current debate on ESD, about the states allied to the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development. ESD is almost renamed for EE, which is narrow thinking. All the countries in this region are developing countries so it is very difficult to manage educational activities to acquire ESD form. They face significant poverty, food scarcity, ignorance and many more in their everyday life, which lead the ESD in this region to failure.
As for the concern related to value education, the rich cultural traditions are promoting the protection of social environment in this region. Value education is always not through formal education but mostly through religious and cultural imputes. If the governments of this region focuses on the value based education relating with their religion, the problem of conflict might get faster and easier solution, which leads the countries towards sustainability. So the national and international agencies on ESD should establish some institutions to promote value education.
Furthermore, health related issue in South Asia is tough to manage. This problem is interconnected with education, food and again conflict as well. HIV/AIDS and waterborne diseases are mainly influencing the people in this area. The governments with international agencies are trying to minimize the problem but due to centralized system of focus, the disadvantaged and rural people are still to be addressed focusing health education and their sustainable life.
Today’s world is mostly influenced by violence, which is one of the burning issues of South Asia for achieving sustainability. All the development processes are being hindered due to conflict and violence. The cause behind violence is poverty, because the hunger cannot be tolerated. The political scenario of this region itself is promoting violence. For the sake of power and position politicians are misguiding the public in the name of religion, race and other diversities. For the betterment of this situation the UNESCO recently has approved India’s proposal to setup Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace & Sustainable Development (Indian express.com).
In this 21st century, ICT plays a vital role in every phase of development. The urban areas of this region are better in ICT but the rural areas are not equipped. The satellite for education in India is one of the pioneers in the field of ESD but this must be expanded not only in the cities but also in rural areas as well. While talking about awareness on ESD, non-formal education, formal education, value education, ICT etc. come thoroughly. The more the public becomes aware on particular matter (ESD) the better and faster the achievement (sustainability) can be gained.
Contextual differences that exist from region to region are leading to different meanings, priorities and strategies for ESD. These differences indeed are rooted not only in traditions in governance, but also in the key existential challenges the region is currently facing. Traditions in governance are likely to affect whether a country adopts a more pedagogical orientation towards ESD emphasizing social learning, democracy & participation and changing peoples’ behavior in a determined direction or not.
South Asia is having difficulties in development of social, economical and environmental aspects. This region is facing extreme problems like; poverty, conflict, HIV/AIDS, environmental degradation and many more. So promotion of value education, health education through both formal and non formal education may help to make the public aware on ESD issues and help to maintain better quality of life.
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www.kfa.org Retrieved in 2009-11-23