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7. Education for Sustainability

One of the most challenging conditions for sustainable development is the encouragement of critical thinking, the integration of indigenous knowledge, and incorporation of shared values and beliefs in formal and informal education.”

Groningen Manifesto, “Sharing the Planet: Population – Consumption – Species”, June 14, 2002

Dear Friends,

* 2005-2015: a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development?
* Is education the key to implementing Sustainable Development?
(with apologies for any cross posting)

You are invited to join two discussions on 'Earth Summit for All' :-

'2005-2015: a decade of Education for Sustainable Devleopment'
The draft Plan of Action for Johannesburg recommends that the UN General Assembly adopt a decade of Education for Sustainable Development from 2005. You are invited to discuss how this can be taken forward, and what can be done to drive a co-ordinated, high-profile campaign on this issue.

'Is education the key to implementing sustainable development?'
Education for Sustainable Development underpins public support for and understanding of sustainable development. However a holistic, community-oriented definition of ESD is consistently under-recognised by all governments. So what can be done to promote ESD as a practical, community-oriented discourse, beyond formal schooling? Your views are welcomed.

Join the discussions at http://earthsummit.open.ac.uk . The outcomes of the discussion will feed into the 'Learning our way to Sustainable Development' side event hosted by the Open University and Stakeholder Forum at Johannesburg.


Tim Holt-Wilson
Information Co-ordinator
'Earth Summit for All' Project
c/o Faculty of Technology
The Open University
Milton Keynes MK7 6BT
United Kingdom

email: admin@earthsummit.open.ac.uk


'Earth Summit for All' is an on-line discussion forum developed by The Open University for issues related to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Go to http://earthsummit.open.ac.uk


Join us for a WSSD workshop with experts on environmental education:

DATE: 30 August, 16:00 - 18:00
PLACE: Global Civil Society Forum (Expo Centre/NASREC), WSSD
This interactive event will include discussion of environmental education
strategies and resources for successful collaboration among NGOs, schools,
youth, community groups, and government agencies.

Speakers include (among others):
Prof John Fien, UNESCO consultant
Ruth Kiwanuka, Joint Energy and Environment Projects (JEEP), Uganda
Michael Furdyk, TakingITGlobal.org, Canada

Environmental education is a critical component of sustainable development. Join these environmental education experts and others in an interactive workshop to learn about successful strategies for formal and informal environmental education.  Network with environmental education leaders from around the world to share knowledge and experience.

For more information on this and other Earth Day Network events at WSSD,
please visit http://www.earthday.net/goals/worldsummitevents.stm or contact
our representatives in South Africa: Leigh-Anne Havemann, Coordinator, WSSD
Activities: 083 528 8992 (local South Africa cell phone) or Kelley Sayre:

Earth Day Network (EDN) is an international environmental not-for-profit
organization that works for social change.  Our network consists of 5,000
organizational members in 184 countries.  Network members range from small,
grassroots organizations to international networks and from community
leaders to government agencies.  Our efforts include ongoing global programs
and campaigns, facilitation of national and regional coalitions, and
worldwide capacity building programs. For more information, please visit:


Eco-net ( Network for Ecological Education and Pratice) from Denmark has
published a disussion booklet in english:

"Sustainable is more than able ­ viewpoints on education for sustainability".

The booklet intends to highligt the potential of adult and general education in terms of promoting a sustainable development in Denmark - and globally. Eco-net wishes to open up a broad discussion and experience sharing on how we are to enable the learning of principles and practices of sustainability in all forms of education and competence building.

Eco-net is bringing the disussion booklet to WSSD, Global Peoples Forum, where you can find us and collect the discussion booklet at E 103 / E118. You can also find and download the booklet on:http://www.SustainableDevelopment.dk

Best regards
Lars Myrthu-Nielsen, secretarial manager and Anne Mette de Visser, project
Network for Ecological Education and Practice
Svendborgvej 9, Ollerup
DK-5762 Vester Skerninge

Phone: +45 62 24 43 24
Fax: +45 62 24 43 23
E-mail: eco-net@eco-net.dk


Some thoughts about various educational systems since then:

There are countries like Greece were critical thinking is not being taught at all. This may be explained by two key factors: there is no separation of state education and religion and the entire system of education is defaulted publically to legitimize what can be called 'making money of inefficiency' as this has led to the creation of a tertiary sector consisting of 'frontistios' or institutions created to help youngsters get through school i.e. the necessary grades to enter university. The entire society has no interest in resolving this negative image of public or state schools as many profit of this in way of giving private lessons, opening up yet another learning centre and linking most of the education to outside universities who wish to gain Greek students insofar as there is a market. Greeks are prepared to pay a lot for the education of their children. Given the Greek deficit which the state attempts to reduce by cutting spending everywhere while raising taxes, surely a relief of the Greek household of costs incurred for education would be a most welcome reform. Yet no one seems to have time to talk in this period of crisis about how badly is needed reform of the education sector. And here is certainly one thing true: the reputation is worse than what is born out in reality. Still Greek students emerge out of school in not having been exposed to real knowledge, never mind an education for sustainable development.

A country like Germany has scored astonishingly low in the PISA study. There are predictions that Germany will come out of the crisis as a loser for the very reason of having neglected to invest in education. The school system is not coping well as indicated by a high rate of drop outs while at university level the reforms have led to anything but substantial knowledge being transmitted. There is no longer desired the critical long term thinking student but the drive by politicians to make universities become more efficient, and that meant attacking primarily long term students, has left many short breathed in terms of 'outlooks and insights'. Naturally things are much more complicated and complex so that one would need to go into details as to why the educational system is flaundering and not preparing really students for the future in the broadest sense for sustainable development.

Countries like Canada and New Zealand have on the other hand some oasis in the education system where excellence is combined with prudence. Students are given a lot of support in various ways and almost every student works on the assumption of knowing good qualification leads to good professional chances. They experience still a viable link between education and work perspectives. Thus their motivation is much higher and also linked to making experiences by going abroad or outside the realms of education by doing all kinds of work at international level to make experiences. This contributes to the development of a character which is able through this mix of theory and practice to get along with people and situations. In Canada there is also to be noticed a highly ethical concern for what is learned has to be linked to policy issues and real promblems in order to study and to know what really works. Solutions are thought within the context of critical thought. The readiness by which issues are discussed from various angles indicates that they have also to verify their knowledge by testing their different sources.

This kind of validation in terms of knowledge is, for instance, quite different in the United States where sources are rare and education linked too much to a pro business culture based on the crude assumption everyone wants to make money. The high costs of education outdistance any normal earner.

Class structures are reproduced in the United Kingdom by the function public schools play in socialising the future elite of the country. Efforts are repeatedly made to alter the educational structure. There is talk about opening up a Stuart Mill Academy to alleviate this problem of social injustice. In addition, the UK has problems with schools due to dealing with unresolved ethical tensions and multi-cultural communities while wishing to impose an only British educational pattern. Since 2005 there has been noticed a turning point in how hidden racial tensions are smothered by models practiced at schools to give everyone a notion of British identity. This means emphasis is put upon preserving and perpetuating an ideal character of the individual who can exist within society without ever taking on, politically speaking, the traditional caste in power over centuries. The key emblem here is the Queen and extended to the kind of society existing due to the existence of Royalty a fortitude which came out during the bombings on the London Tube system in 2005. Despite London having become multi-cultural, it was over and again propagated via radio and television that the British character prevailed. This open myth leaves no space for other forms of expression. It is as if the education system is stuck like a broken record on a version of nationhood not really in tune with the 21st century. Rather a resurgance of the extreme Conservatism in both the good and aloof way can be observed. It follows the idea expressed already by Hume that people are best governed if they follow habits for that makes them sovereign. In other words, they exert so much self control that no other enforcement of the system behind such habits is needed. It explains why there is an unwritten constitution and basically the law what everyone agrees upon as being in need of being applied. At the same time, the security system has gone out of bounds but then these things are expected to be accepted as oddity of the British character. This is how things cannot be questioned. The education system proves here to be a most stable base for reproducing the class structure in England and of everything which goes with it.

HF 29.5.2010

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