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'Make education for sustainable development top agenda'

28th April 2014
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Education for sustainable development means including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning like climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction.

The issue of proper use of natural resources to benefit the present and future generations has been on the country’s development agenda for years now.

Education for sustainable development (ESD) stakeholders have insisted that education for sustainable development has to be emphasized to ensure that the remaining natural resources is used in a proper way for the present and future generations.

In a move to ensure that such a goal is achieved the Tanzania Institute of Education (TIE) is working to incorporate education for sustainable development in the education curriculum for schools.

Aisha Ghuyiya a curriculum developer from TIE who participated in the stakeholders meeting on education for sustainable development held recently in Dar es Salaam, said the institute was working to slot in such education from primary schools to higher learning institutions.

She said if such education is included in the education curriculum children will be made aware of the importance of proper utilization of natural resources for their benefit and future generations.

“The process is at a good stage and once completed will help in creating awareness among members of the public,’ she said.

Ghuhiya advised   stakeholders to use the media like community radios, television and newspapers to disseminate education to the public. These can now be accessed by most people in contrast with previous years, she advised.

“Education for Sustainable Development allows every human being to acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future,” Ghuhiya said. 

She said education for sustainable development means including key sustainable development issues into teaching and learning like climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption.

“ESD also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behavior and take action for sustainable development,” she said, adding, “education for sustainable development consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.” 

Education for sustainable development requires far-reaching changes in the way education is often practiced today. 

Importance for primary schools
Ghuhiya said it is imperative that early childhood education is recognized as the starting point for lifelong learning within education for sustainability.

“Early childhood education offers a valuable starting point for early childhood education for sustainable development, and the highest priority is therefore to ensure access for all children to early childhood education, “she said.

She noted that it is in early childhood that children often experience the greatest environmental challenges and it is the time when the foundations of many of their fundamental attitudes and values are first put into place.

For his part, the coordinator of WWF Lake Victoria Catchment Environment Education Programme (LCVEEP), Kelvin Robert, said concerted efforts are required to ensure that the society is fully mobilized to know the importance of utilizing the resources for sustainable development.

“It is broadly understood that today’s generation of young adults, more than any proceeding one, is more interconnected and communicative than before.

“This is particularly through the electronic and social media as well as face to face communication. So it is now time to use the youth to spread the education for sustainable development. This is because they are very capable of doing so,” Robert noted.

He said, as unsustainable human consumption and production systems are driving changes in average temperatures and weather patterns, "abnormal" is increasingly becoming the norm. It is not the time to remain silent but is to take action on this issue by ensuring that every society gets this education for sustainable development.

He said by now 75 percent of targeted farmers in the Lake Victoria catchment are practicing sustainable agriculture. 
  
He revealed that the number of tree seedlings that have been planted along the river in and shoreline of the Mara River and Lake Victoria in Musoma Tanzania to mitigate effects of climate change are 40,2000.

“Sixty percent of households in the LVCEEP sites are using energy saving stoves leading to decreased deforestation and mitigating climate change.

On the other hand, Robert said that, the environmental issues, risks and the associated sustainable development challenges are caused by several factors which include population pressure, increasing poverty.

Unsustainable agricultural practices and over-exploitation of natural resources among others is also a big issue.

“For instance, it is reported that competition for resources by about 17 million people with an estimated annual increase rate of about 6 per cent, potentially poses the threat and risk of depletion and extinction of the rich biodiversity in the Lake Victoria basin, “he noted.

Similarly, Robert said that agriculture and its invasion and consumption of natural forests, poor livestock keeping practices, increased and unsustainable demands on the natural forests for fuel-wood were some of the activities that were identified to pose serious threats to the lake basin and therefore urgently needed appropriate responses so as to restore the balance of nature.

He also said policy issues can also be said to be contributing to the persistence of environmental issues, risks and the associated sustainable development challenges in the Lake Victoria basin. For instance, a poor vision and the absence of good-will among policy makers and implementers have created space for poor planning and inaction in cases where policies exist.

“A good example is where wetland ecosystems have been turned into municipal dumping ground sites for effluence, solid-waste, agro-chemicals and industrial waste. Some of the negative local and central government actions deliberately circumvent legislative requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments prior to reclamation of swamps and programmes for agricultural, urban and industrial expansions “Robert aid.

He elaborated that the resultant negative effects of these activities include loss of massive quantities of top soil through wind and water erosion, making river systems loaded with silt, sewage and agro-chemicals, thus exacerbating the problem.

He insisted that if this thing will not be taken into consideration at the present time there is a big possibility for future generation not to benefit from natural resources. 

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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