Wednesday, 5 October, 2022

Education for Sustainable Development a Necessity

Dr P R Datta

Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi had similar ideas about teaching. They were, however, distinct. Both were opposed to Western education. Gandhi criticised Western culture and the way it worshipped machines and technology. He also believed that western education ideas could help Indians become more modern but not teach them anything. Tagore, on the other hand, wished to combine the best aspects of modern Western culture with the best parts of Indian culture. He emphasised the importance of teaching science and technology alongside art, music, and dance at Shantiniketan. I wholeheartedly concur. Western education is founded on capitalist ideas that place monetary gain above all else. Students are taught how to be financially successful but not spiritually prosperous, making peace and happiness impossible to achieve. However, when I consider the planet where we all live, social values, morality, society, and its sustainability, I see many positive developments in the Western educational system that are lacking in many parts of the world. As a result, I support Tagore. It is time to combine good Western and good Eastern values to strengthen education, which will help the nation prosper and individuals see personal progress and happiness. This short article discusses the importance of sustainable education and how to achieve it.

I have recently discovered something fascinating from an 11-year-old girl entering seventh grade. Ivayla is her name, and she resides in Kettering, UK. The young girl emailed me a short essay regarding educational sustainability through her mother, one of my students, and I was pretty impressed. The number of concerns she addressed in her essay on how educational institutions may promote the concept of sustainability and educate pupils. This piece is based on the idea of this young girl, and I must express my gratitude to her. We can all continually learn from youngsters since they are insatiably curious and always investigating their surroundings. They are also truthful and receptive, which makes it easier for them to learn and explore new things than adults. Children are also excellent problem-solvers, so they can teach us a great deal about how to find answers to complex issues. Moreover, they are constantly willing to have fun and appreciate life. Children can significantly teach us if we are prepared to pay attention.

Education for sustainable development (ESD) is a learning process that strives to provide students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to make informed and responsible decisions about their own lives, the lives of their communities, and the world. It integrates the economic, social, and environmental factors of sustainable development into all aspects of teaching and learning. ESD has been incorporated as Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To attain this goal, it is necessary to comprehend the procedure and how it can help society. It entails incorporating notions of sustainable development into every topic and every component of the learning process, from early childhood education to higher education. It ensures that all education and training programmes, including teacher education, are designed and implemented to promote sustainable communities' growth.

Increasing numbers of people agree that education is a crucial enabler of sustainable development. It empowers individuals, develops human capital, and encourages sustainable behaviours. However, there is no universal model for sustainable development and education. The most effective programmes will be tailored to the learners' and community's individual needs and circumstances. Sustainable development enhances people's quality of life while protecting the planet's natural resources for future generations. There are numerous perspectives on education and sustainable development. On the one hand, education can assist individuals in comprehending the relationship between economic progress and the environment. For instance, if individuals recognise the significance of protecting natural resources, they may be more inclined to take measures to conserve the environment. On the other hand, some may argue that education might lead to more development and environmental degradation. For instance, if individuals are educated about the advantages of industrialised agriculture, they may be more likely to adopt these potentially environmentally damaging techniques. Therefore, it is essential to consider education's role in sustainable development.

Education is also essential for sustainable development because it enables individuals to comprehend the long-term effects of their activities and equips them with the knowledge and skills to make more environmentally friendly decisions. People are more inclined to lessen their environmental footprint if they are informed about the effects of their actions on the environment, for instance. In addition, education is essential for the development of sustainable communities. Sustainable communities meet the present requirements without jeopardising future generations' ability to meet their needs. It is a way of life that ensures that the earth's resources will not be depleted and that future generation will enjoy the same high quality of life as we do today. Education can also contribute to the formation of leaders devoted to sustainable development. Everyone must have access to education to benefit from its capacity to effect positive change. It can assist us in making more informed judgments regarding our lifestyle and usage of natural resources. It involves ensuring that we do not deplete our natural resources faster than they can be replenished and that we do not pollute our environment to the point where it can no longer support life. Finding a means to meet the demands of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is the goal of sustainable development.

Education may encourage sustainable development in a variety of ways. For instance, schools can educate youngsters on the significance of resource conservation and recycling. They can also learn how to lessen their carbon footprint and the environmental impact of their behaviours. In addition, schools can serve as a venue for debating environmental issues and give students chances to take action on these issues. Schools can, for example, install solar panels, compost food waste, build ecological gardens, and utilise energy-efficient light bulbs. In this way, schools can serve as a model for their students and the greater community on sustainable practices. All educational institutions may play a significant role in promoting sustainability by educating students on the significance of environmental awareness and reducing their ecological effects. In several western nations, these elements are employed to ensure academic sustainability and to increase students' knowledge and understanding. Educating kids is one of the essential things schools can do to encourage sustainable development. Additionally, they can learn the significance of safeguarding ecosystems and practising sustainable agriculture.

Global sustainability is critical for humans and animals because living things require a clean and safe environment to thrive. We must know what to do for the earth to be secure and free of potential threats. This is why, in 1992, over 178 countries adopted Agenda 21, a comprehensive plan to achieve 17 sustainable development goals. If schools provide quality education to students, this can impact their lives as they grow older, implying that more educated people will help reduce poverty. Schools can participate in fundraising programmes concerning world hunger to raise funds for people who do not have enough food to eat. Another goal of sustainable development is to improve the quality of life on land. Learning organisations can help by encouraging children to put their litter in the proper bins rather than on the ground or elsewhere. An alternative method is to plan a day for the students to spend time cleaning up any waste that has not been adequately disposed of using the appropriate equipment. This will benefit animals by ensuring that waste does not interfere with their health. This brings me to my next point, which is about life underwater. Tens of tons of trash are dumped into the ocean yearly. Approximately 90% is plastic, which is not only harmful to wildlife in and out of the water but can also be recycled and reused in various ways. Academic institutions can help by recycling reusable materials at school and home.

As a result, I have concluded that education is a critical tool for long-term development. It raises people's awareness of their surroundings and environmental impact, and it also assists them in developing the skills necessary to effect change in their lives and communities. Education must be accessible and relevant to all people to promote sustainable development. Recognising that education is about changing attitudes and behaviours and acquiring knowledge and skills is critical. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without everyone's participation, and education is a vital component of this.


The writer is an educator, author, researcher and Executive Chair, Centre for Business & Economic Research, UK