New Delhi: Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a form of learning which strives to re-orient society towards sustainable practices. It aims at promoting development that is environmentally sound, socially equitable, culturally sensitive and economically just. It is a system that prepares learners to handle a crisis, become responsible citizens, adapt to change and address global problems.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has become a key element in transforming the society where teachers are seen as key partners. Partners who can help make formal learning enjoyable and relevant to life, outside school. Therefore, the role of teachers in this learning exchange is that of a catalyst, for bringing about an attitudinal change in the student community. The strength of the teaching community in bringing about the required change is phenomenal and needs to be taken seriously.
Keeping this as the base The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) organised the Fourth Environment Educators Conference 2011, a 3-day conference themed "Creating a Sustainable Environment through Schools". By participating in this conference, teachers had an opportunity to network with other educators from across the country and abroad. Important sessions like, 'Teachers' competencies for ESD (Education for Sustainable Development)', 'Carbon neutralization in a school', 'Integrating essential concepts in curriculum' etc. will be covered in the conference.
Emphasising on the need to build such bridges of learning, Ms Ranjana Saikia, Director, Educating Youth for Sustainable Development Division, TERI said, "It would be wonderful if teachers go beyond the regular pedagogy and actively involved in developing the school as a sustainable habitat. Climate change is only a symptom of a much larger problem -- unsustainability. Students and teachers need to think about the poorest of the poor who get their daily needs from the ecosystem; they are most vulnerable as climate change will affect them the most. If teachers are empowered then clearly there would be a major multiplier effect in our society. We need to change the way we live and the way we develop our technologies to move towards the path of sustainability".
Lauding the efforts of TERI in playing a major role towards sensitising the youth, and the school fraternity towards issues related environment, Mr.Rajiv Seth, Register, TERI University said, "Environment issues and practicing environment education is now becoming an integral part of our school curriculum and this conference by TERI is a larger movement of educators where solutions to the dangers of climate change are discussed and made aware of. Today India needs rapid growth, but not at a cost that degrades environment and ecology. What is required is inclusive development. Teachers and schools need to be the torchbearers of inclusive development and sensitised children about the fine line between development and environment." Mr. Seth further added, TERI University believes in the basic ethos of inculcating values and methods of developing a sustainable environment through its faculty and curriculum there by enduring a larger platform is created for this.
This year, the conference had sessions on how schools can address some of the critical environmental issues by integrating them creatively in their education process. A separate session on 'green curriculum' looked into the aspects of integration of environmental issues into the curriculum at all levels and in all regions of the country. Special group activity sessions were taken up focussing on linking Environment Education to classroom activities through various subjects.
Educators' Conference is an annual event being organized since 2008. A concern was raised in the earlier years' by the participating teachers that 'Principals' should also be involved in this event. This suggestion has been taken into account while planning for the 4th Environment Educators' Conference, 2011. A special session, 'Principals' Forum' organized, wherein 80 school's principal discussed 'Relevance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the 21st century curriculum' and practical issues related to the integration of ESD approaches in the schools. Schools are giving a lot of importance to environment education and this forum is well timed to have a frank and clear discussion on perspectives from a number of schools on this matter.
The conference brought together stakeholders from school environs, ranging discussions on the environmental aspects of the processes linked with education. Throughout the event, school educators, guests and speakers was given ample space and freedom to discuss their concerns, reflect on the issues, and think of innovative and creative ways to meet the goals of 'Education for Sustainable Development'.
The main objectives of the conference were:
· To provide an interactive platform to the stakeholders in education to discuss the successful pathways for turning their schools green
· To seek participation of members of the government, academia, and policy makers
· To present replicable case studies from participants involved in Education for Sustainable Development
To find a comprehensive solution to the adverse impacts of unsustainable lifestyle choices on the environment, with appropriate use of available resources and technology.
The conference in the past years has been endorsed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Department of Environment – Delhi Government, UNESCO, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, GTZ, NCERT and SCERT-Haryana, Tetrapak India Pvt. Ltd, DELL, Hewlett Packard India Pvt Ltd.