Education is essential to sustainable development. Citizens of the world need to learn their way to sustainability. Our current knowledge base does not contain the solutions to contemporary global environmental, societal and economic problems. ESD knowledge is crucial to the ability of present and future leaders and citizens to create solutions and find new paths to a better future. Education for sustainable development (ESD) is not a particular program or project, but is rather an umbrella for many forms of education that already exist, and new ones that remain to be created. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a concept responding to the ESD policy of the Ministry of Education emanating from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This introduces educators and learners to aspects of lifelong learning principles that are transformative in nature.
ESD is transformative education in that it empowers people to transform themselves and the society they live in. This will enable them to bring about changes of transformation for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. This can mean, for example, taking action against climate change, changing one’s consumption patterns, developing social entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihoods, or supporting those struggling against poverty. Educators as well as learners are further enlightened on a competency based learning model that enhances comprehensive institutional and individual’s health and safety standards.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) allows every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. ESD embraces participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behavior. ESD consequently promotes competencies like creativity, critical thinking, imagining future scenarios, life-long learning, digital literacy, and making decisions in a collaborative way. ESD requires far-reaching changes in the way education is often practiced today. It calls for a competency based approach that is inclusive and diverse. ESD promotes efforts to rethink educational programs and systems (both methods and contents) that currently support unsustainable societies. ESD affects all components of education: legislation, policy, finance, curriculum, instruction, learning, assessment, etc. ESD recognizes the fact that the educational needs of people change over their lifetime. Many individuals and organizations around the world already implement ESD (e.g. a teacher weaving sustainability themes into primary education using participatory methods; a community development worker raising people’s awareness on rights which are denied to them; or a public health worker training people to draw water from clean sources). There are many programs using an ESD approach to learning which is critical for achieving sustainability. Education for Sustainable Development therefore gives answers to most concerns of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It comprehensively addresses Goal 4 which states “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.”
ESD can easily be mainstreamed into any working education curriculum without interrupting the flow of knowledge. Values, attitudes, attributes, competencies, skills and knowledge are points of consideration in ESD. The 21st Century skills are crucial in ESD. The whole institutional approach is applied to involve everyone in the society to ensure ownership and participation in ESD related activities. The Environmental awareness and conservation, Cultural diversity appreciation and conservation, economic awareness and practice as well as the social domain bring about sustainability. Where the Environmental, Economic and Social domains meet is the explanation behind ESD.
Principals and head teachers are encouraged to seek to learn more about ESD to improve the quality of education in schools. The Kenya Education Management Institute is championing in sensitizing Kenyans on ESD.