Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives

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UNESCO and Sustainable Development Goals

A three-year painstaking and well researched process from June 2012 reached its high point in September 2015 and culminated in the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the United Nation General Assembly. This global framework for redirecting the world communities towards the only acceptable kind of developments, involved UN Member States and had inputs from thousands of actors across the world as well as raw materials in form of national surveys that engaged millions of participants.

Fundamentals of the 2030 Agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs has been described as an ambitious universal agenda to transform our world and it’s aim is to secure a sustainable, peaceful, prosperous and equitable life for everyone on earth, now and in the future. These goals are a holistic approach in tackling societal issues and challenges bedeviling our world both globally and specifically. Though "…some animals are more equal than others," it is relatively deducible that every society of the world is developing, implicative of the hydra-headed scope of the goals. Issues such as poverty eradication, quality education, health, hunger, social protection, job opportunity, economic strategies, environmental protection and climate change are covered by the goals. The goals also address major obstacles to sustainable development such as extractive and weak institutions, inequality, environmental degradation, and irresponsible production and consumption behaviors.

For SDGs not to go the way of MDGs, all hands must be on deck: public sector, private sector, civil society, leaders and followers, religious bodies, you, I and everyone must work. Governments of all nations of the world must domesticate the goals through customized policy formulations followed with wholehearted actions and diligent monitoring. However, it is shocking to note that a year has passed since the adoption of SDGs but the level of awareness, let alone action plans, is scarily shallow.

To this end, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO having realized the indispensable role of education in the achievement of sustainable development and being the UN’s repository for education, has presented a document to foster this course. During her week for Peace and Sustainable Development: The Role of Education, in Canada between 6th – 10th March, 2017, UNESCO presented the public document titled, Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives. Not all forms of education would deliver the required knowledge, skills, values and attitude for empowering individual to sustainable development. In fact, most of what is hitherto obtainable in education for economic growth would further perpetuate unsustainable production and consumption pattern. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is now a well established panacea. It focuses on empowering learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability and just society for present and future generations. ESD aims at developing competencies that empower you and I to introspect, act sustainably, participate in socio-political process, no matter how complex the situation may be or how revolutionary the course to chart, so as to move the society towards a sustainable development.

Quality education, beyond being a stand alone goal, has EDS explicitly recognized as part of Target 4.7. Simultaneously, ESD is crucially important in the delivery of our expectations on the remaining 16 goals. "ESD can produce specific cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioral learning outcomes that enable individuals to deal with the particular challenges of each SDG, thus facilitating its achievement." Peradventure, if driving awareness at all levels – formal or informal, about SDGs or inculcating it in our curricula from primary to tertiary levels have been a challenge, this document has lifted the lid.

Who Can Use This Document?

Readers, generally. Policy makers, curriculum developers, educators, teachers, trainers, professional facilitators, opinion leaders, government officials, NGO staff, informal groups and so on. The target group is diverse and possible uses are manifold. Consequently, the topic outlines, learning objectives and activities for each SDG are written on a general level. It’s a general guidance that’s designed to be relevant for all learners irrespective of age and status. The document provides guidance to inspire educators to tailor-make contents to suit their training needs through suggestions for learning topics and objectives.

What more?

The document is available among other enlightening resources at http://en.unesco.org . You could as well get it directly by clicking here.


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