In the baggage: Education for Sustainable Development
Tourism, waste and climate change are increasingly developing into major problems for the small island of Havelock in the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, the potential of Education for Sustainable Development as a way of addressing the problem was largely unknown until two friends – Supriya Singh from India and Katarina Roncevic from Germany and Croatia – visited the island in November 2016.
The two women are experts in Education for Sustainable Development and, after a conference in India, they wanted to relax together in the small island paradise. They got talking to the Deputy Director of the Government Senior Secondary School and it soon became clear: “We need to do something here.” And so, the two women did indeed do something. Initially, they acted on their own quite spontaneously: “We introduced teachers, pupils and their parents to the global sustainability goals and demonstrated the relevance of these for the island,” reported Supriya Singh, who had been trained in Germany, participating in Leadership Training in Germany provided by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in 2012.
What is Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)?
Education for Sustainable Development is education that empowers people to think and act with the future in mind: How do my decisions influence people in the generations to come or in other parts of the world? For example, what is the impact of what I consume, or what means of transport I use or which and how much energy I consume? […] Education for Sustainable Development allows every single person to understand the impact that their own actions have on the world and to make responsible decisions.
Source: German Commission for UNESCO
Once they had returned to their home countries, the two friends worked voluntarily on a concept for further education and training for teachers and cooperated with local schools and non-governmental organisations. “In April 2017, we held a pilot workshop with 30 teachers and 40 pupils,” says Katarina Roncevic. “This primarily involved teaching the skills that will allow participants to become actively engaged in shaping their sustainable future, particularly when it comes to waste, energy and water,” she continues.
At some point, their project was given a name – “The Turquoise Change” – because the colour of the Andaman Sea is such a wonderful shade of turquoise, yet, at the same time, it is also threatened by pollution and a reduction in biodiversity. What is needed here is a change and a systematic rethink in harmony with nature.
In the meantime, thanks to the commitment of the two women, training modules are available on the island to provide further education for teachers, as are modules on sustainable development for use in the curriculum and a variety of activities for pupils. These are always about global challenges – and the best way for the island’s inhabitants to deal with these.
Sustainable development particularly important for islands’ survival
“The Turquoise Change” gained a second mainstay in Zanzibar by 2017. They started talking to local non-governmental organisations and understood the urgent need to support the young people living on the island off the coast of Africa. As a result, the two education experts brought their friend Hosannah Nathan, an enthusiast for art and science from New York, to Zanzibar and, in August 2017, organised a workshop with 20 young people, who expressed their ideas of sustainable development in a variety of ways including hip-hop, graffiti and film-making.
It is no coincidence that “The Turquoise Change” focuses on islands. “Islands stand out because they have their own identity and culture, as they are more isolated. In the past, the relationship between humans and nature was often especially harmonious on islands,” explains Supriya Singh. Her friend adds: “On Zanzibar in particular, but also on Havelock, tourism has knocked the ecosystem out of its equilibrium in many ways. The coral reefs are under threat and the amounts of waste are a major problem.”
What is the ESD Expert Net?
The ESD Expert Net promotes international dialogue on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and combines experts from different educational fields into a global partnership. Experts from Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa share ideas on how education can help to provide the solution to global problems.
Plans for the future in three new countries
The two women are far away from running out of ideas for their volunteer work. In May 2018, 15 teachers took part in the second training of trainers for sustainable development of “The Turquoise Change”, who will share their knowledge with colleagues in the surrounding area over the next few months.
Supriya Singh and Katarina Roncevic are actively involved in the ESD Expert Net and, as a result, they have been running their project under the umbrella of this network for some time now. It brings together experts from Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa and the two women would like to extend their project to German, Mexican and South African islands in the future. They also want to empower people there to shape a sustainable future in keeping with their formula: “Take the best of local and add the best of global”.
Did you learn anything about sustainable development when you were at school? Do you know any good examples from school or adult education near you that encourage more responsible behaviour? We would be delighted if you were to share these ideas with us!