ESD…A Reality Check

Education is a continuous learning.  Everywhere we go, whatever we do, we learn from it.  But have you ever heard of Education towards Sustainable Development (ESD)?

Twenty three people from different countries with different cultures gathered here in Israel to participate in the course Education towards Sustainable Development hosted by MASHAV A. Ofri International Training Center.  At first, everyone was asking, what is ESD? Several insights and ideas popped out but still wondering why ESD?

So why ESD and what is its importance to what we do and how we live?  Let us tell you our story.

It all started with the gathering of twenty-three different cultures and way of life.  Bringing with us all the knowledge and ideas from our respective countries, ESD was our focus.  The course was presented to us which was well planned.  Since the first day of the course, everyone was eager to know what is ESD and why ESD in the first place.  The course started with getting to know each other because it’s important for us to have camaraderie for us to succeed in this course.

Several workshops and site visits were integrated in the program, which not gave us only stimulus variation but also gave us an opportunity for experiential learning.  It allowed us to learn from the experiences of a variety of real practitioners in the field of ESD.  We were exposed to different tools of conducting sustainability education using interesting hearts-on, minds-on and hands on facilitation techniques which will be useful in implementing our projects and in our interactions with other participants during workshops.

A lot of knowledge and ideas about ESD was shared to us.  During this course, we learned about Place Based Learning in relation to sustainability education.  It made us realize how rich and varied teaching resources we have in our immediate school environments as well as in the community. Establishing resources such as zoos, botanical gardens and adopting natural habitats can easily achieve place based learning as well as project based learning outcomes.

While undergoing this course, we had the rare chance of learning from our fellow participants from different countries with varied experiences.  This helped us to realize our global “villageness” through the similarities in some of our circumstances in relation to educational challenges and particularly sustainability education.  The networks established between and among participants shall play a critical role to strengthen our commitments to spread the ideals of ESD in our various countries through advocacy to influence its integration in the school curricula.  We shall contextualize and practice the ideals learned to our own local situations.  Getting know about other countries and their problems\challenges\solutions paved way into building partnerships with the goals of having a transformative education.

Through this course, we had the opportunity to reflect on current educational practices and the place of ESD in a critical way.  We were challenged to reflect upon the broad aspects of ESD in relation to quality education and what entails meaningful learning.  For example, is the current way of teaching relevant to sustainable futures? Should we not have a shift from teaching to educating? What is the difference? 

We realize that in teaching, as currently practiced, we are simply providing fish to our young ones.  But when we educate them, we shall be arming them with tools to fish on their own.  Such a shift will not only inject new interest in schooling but will also lead to a holistic generation of critical thinkers, problem solvers and agents of transformative change.  It is true that when children lead the change process, real change happens.  This will take care of the youth bubble that most countries are experiencing and who knows, may be through ESD, the realization that no challenge is beyond our abilities for as long as we collaborate.  We may just build a just, peaceful and sustainable world through ESD!!!!!

The group initiatives that we had helped us in identifying steps that we will do in our own countries.  Even though these are just simple steps, we will try to make a difference in our society by sharing what we know about ESD and make the people aware that it is not yet too late for us to start making changes.

The program is indeed a good combination of workshops and site-visits because it has broadened our knowledge about ESD and had seen the whole picture.  It all boils down now on how each and every one of us  can adapt to the challenges that we will face upon returning to our own countries, from going global to local, sharing the goals of ESD to our countrymen, and shifting our pedagogies from teaching to education, or just simply sharing the experiences we had in Israel.  

Rest assured that all the knowledge acquired in this training will surely be worthwhile especially in living our main goal of having Education towards Sustainable Development.

Group 5
Tetiana Karpiuk – Ukraine
John Wesley I Calagui - Philippines
Edmond Kizito Makoba - Kenya 
Steven Edward Constance - Seychelles

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