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This lack of progress stems from many sources. In some cases, a lack of vision or awareness has impeded progress.
In others, it is a lack of policy or funding. According to Charles Hopkins, who has spoken with people at many levels of involvement in education i. By addressing these critical impediments in the planning stage, governments can prevent or reduce delays or derailment of ESD efforts and, ultimately, the attainment of sustainability.
In addition to these generic issues, governments at all levels will need to address issues that are specific to local conditions e. Issue 1 - Increasing Awareness: ESD is Essential The initial step in launching an ESD program is to develop awareness within the educational community and the public that reorienting education to achieve sustainability is essential.
If government officials or school district administrators are unaware of the critical linkages between education and sustainable development, reorienting education to address sustainable development will not occur. When people realize that education can improve the likelihood of implementing national policies, regional land and resource management programs, and local programs, then education is in a position to be reoriented to help achieve sustainability.
This awareness forms the essential first step in the reorienting process. Fortunately, at the international level, ESD is recognized as important and central to the success of sustainable development around the world.
At the sixth meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, delegations from countries worldwide repeatedly mentioned the importance of ESD in achieving goals of sustainability. It was apparent that they were ready to move forward with the next steps; however, the importance of ESD must reach beyond the delegations and permeate the educational community and the general public.
Inherent in building awareness are efforts to outline important linkages between education and more sustainable societies e. In large part, perceiving a need brings about a corresponding change in educational systems.
Unfortunately, the need to achieve sustainable development is not perceived today as sufficiently important to spark a large response in the educational community. If leaders at all levels of governance are to make progress, the recognition and active involvement of the education sector is imperative.
Response to an Educational Crisis The "space race" brought about massive reform in science and mathematics education in the late s and s in the United States. The federal government was determined to create the scientific and engineering work force necessary to create a successful space exploration program.
The National Science Foundation, professional organizations, and textbook publishers invested millions of dollars into rewriting curriculums, developing and publishing new textbooks, training teachers, and equipping school laboratories. The reform accomplished its goal in improving science and mathematics instruction and producing scientists and engineers to support the space program and a technical society.
Nations also need to clarify whether their educators are being asked to teach about sustainable development or to change the goals and methods of education to achieve sustainable development. The answer to this question will profoundly affect each nation's course of action.
In reality, education related to sustainable development will be implemented in a wide range, in both depth and breadth. In some communities, ESD will be ignored; in others it will be barely addressed. In some, a new class dedicated to ESD will be created, and in others the entire curriculum will be reoriented to address sustainability.
Communities must be aware of the limitations of educating about sustainable development. Teaching about sustainable development is like teaching the theory behind an abstract concept or teaching the principles of sustainability by rote memorization.
ESD in its real and effective forms gives students the skills, perspectives, values, and knowledge to live sustainably in their communities.
At the same time, true education is not indoctrination or inculcation. Experimentation will determine what level of ESD will be appropriate and successful for communities to meet their sustainability goals.
For example, a community may weave a few themes of sustainability into the curriculum, only to find the additions will not achieve sustainability for their community.
In cases where schools carry total responsibility for ESD, complete curricular reorientation of education at all levels will probably be necessary. In communities where informal, nonformal, and formal education unite to create an integrated ESD program for citizens of all ages, a less intense approach in the formal education system might be effective.
As programs are developed and implemented, problems will occur. Flaws and questionable practices will need to be addressed as ESD continues to develop and mature.
Issue 3 - Linking to Existing Issues:Many challenges and barriers to the implementation of successful education for sustainability initiatives are identified and analyzed.
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