“If you are planning ahead
1 year, plant a seed.If you are planning ahead
10 years, plant a tree.
If you are planning ahead
100 years, educate the people.”
—Hung Hsu, Chinese poet, 500 BC
Education is a light or a ray of new sun to lighten any corner of the earth. The connecting future generation of twenty first century seeks for sustainable development what is next to impossible without sustainable education. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and developing an exciting new vision of 21st century education for sustainability are closely related in terms of preparing responsible citizens. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is therefore in essence, and by definition, appropriate education for the 21st century. Many countries have developed their own perspective on twenty-first century education whereas the United States called for the Partnership for the 21st century (P21) focusing primarily on preparing students (and by extension the US) to be more competitive in the current global economy. The 2014 report entitled “Sustainable Development Begins with Education,” of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recognises the power of “education as a catalyst for development” and outlines the importance of the role of education in achieving, or striving forward. Here lies the importance of sustainable education for 21st century. There are goals behind this assumption.To acquire the long-lasting and influencing knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, we need sustainable education. The concept of 21st century education is different from earlier time. The 21st century learners can use their knowledge outside of the classroom context. Self-discipline in study is another important trait that these learners possess. These learners expect interaction and are highly sociable. Moreover, learners are expected to be autonomous, flexible, caring, healthy, human, creative, innovative, social etc. through four C’s like Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication. According to Palfrey and Gasser, the following are the key characteristics of 21st century learner:
To transform teaching and learning, we need sustainable education. Education for Sustainability (EfS) is defined as a transformative learning process that equips students, teachers, and school systems with the new knowledge and ways of thinking we need to achieve for gaining economic prosperity and also for being responsible worthy citizen of a country. Sustainable education allows every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. According to this view, education should promote competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a practical way.
The 21st century learning is not limited into any boundary. It emphasises on holistic education. Learners also learn about technology, climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, different languages and sustainable consumption. To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote life-long learning opportunities for all, we need sustainable education. Teaching and teachers have an important role in supporting the requisite sustainability learning process. Their principal role is no longer simply to transmit knowledge to students. “Education is not about filling a pail it is about lighting a fire.” In the digital age of the 21st century, teachers cannot possibly expect to be the omniscient source of knowledge. Their role instead is to inspire and guide their students-as learners
Man has always striven to perform better, seeking solace and leading a good quality of life ever since recorded history. The 21st Century sustainable education is essential in promoting the concept of globalization, digitalization and the prospect for human existence on this planet beyond the next century.
The writer is Director and Associate Professor (English) of Institute of Modern Languages (IML), Jagannath University, Dhaka