Opinion

Transforming Education to Future-Proof societies through SDGs

Dimple Puri
Transforming Education to Future-Proof societies through SDGs

Transforming education for sustainability requires the system’s shift approach. The teachers must eschew to be a broadcaster and acknowledge that there are several alternative sources to knowledge. The classrooms need a redesign to elicit students’ love for learning and self - development. The pedagogy must shun predictability and encourage curiosity, innovation, and participation. Schools are a place where students learn to become responsible citizens and engage in community development. A set of 17 goals adopted by the united nations under the Sustainable Development Goals offers a roadmap for the future of education. Young children must recognise that poverty, hunger, inequality, lack of opportunities, and climate change are a curse to society. Each child must know that the increasing environmental risk is costing heavily, peace is imperative, and building partnership is a necessary condition for the prosperity of all. Education for the future built on strong character education and social-emotional learning should address these global concerns. The seventeen goals are the new classroom objectives around which new pedagogies and assessments should revolve. The present paper discusses a practical, scalable framework for sustainable education in schools. The task of initiating mindset shifts can be performed by transformational schools and transformational leadership, experiencing and facilitating positive changes. Schools with a clear vision, positive culture, participative decision making, and modelling best practices have higher chances of making a change.

Keywords: Sustainable education, SDGs, Climate Reality, Global Citizenship

Introduction

“All the SDGs come down to education…” — Malala Yousafzai

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations are aimed to tackle the world’s problems by 2030. The goals form a useful lens through which to look at the most pressing global issues. Hundreds of millions of people do not have enough food to eat; women still earn less than men and have fewer rights; plant and animal species are rapidly vanishing; gender, caste, creed and finance-based gap are getting wider. The role of the children and educators in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be summed up as three “A’s” - raising Awareness, taking Action and holding all stakeholders to Account on the progress of these goals.

The world’s life-supporting resources are depleting at a faster rate than ever before! We have to change our practices to ensure a more sustainable future. Within every seventeen goals, education holds a key position. Of course, teaching and learning do not function in isolation. Beyond this education for sustainable development means integrating the “future” as a specific dimension of our learning activities and teaching. Keeping the same in mind, we at Ahlcon are trying our best tointegrate these SDGs into our curriculum. All our scholastic and co-scholastic activities revolve around these SDGs. SDG’s education must begin early.

Why teach Sustainable Development Goals in each class?

• Children who are in school now will grow up to be adults in an increasingly interconnected and multicultural society. Students need to be aware of cultural norms and differences around the world so that they can succeed and thrive. The SDGs are universal goals for all people and are inherently global. Learning about these initiatives helps students develop insights into issues around the world.

• To solve the world’s biggest challenges, we must encourage students to be active participants in their local and global communities. Developing global citizens who are passionate about caring for others and our world is essential for them to be members of our society. The SDGs engage students in practical goals and problem-solving.

• When students learn about SDGs, particularly about the extent of poverty, and hunger, and the need for high-quality education, they begin to understand the unique challenges facing communities all over the world. Students need empathy to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives. Building compassion in children leads them to grow as passionate, engaged adults.

• Teachers do not need to be experts on topics such as responsible consumption or clean energy to teach the SDGs. They can learn and explore these issues alongside their students and plan ways to take action together. Once students have an understanding of the SDGs, they will be inspired to make positive changes, in big and small ways. All students in any grade level can learn about the SDGs in age-appropriate ways with the bevvy of free activities, curricula and classroom activities.

Together, with teachers and students, we can be a powerful force for achieving the UN’s vision of a more peaceful, healthy, and equitable world. We at Ahlcon, try our best to make our students aware of these SDGs and motivate them to contribute their level best in achieving them. Most of our activities revolve around these SDGs, whether inside or outside the classroom. This handbook will give a clear picture of SDGs in the DNA of Ahlcon. It projects different lesson plans catering to academic and co-scholastic domains aligned with relevant SDGs.

What are the challenges?

Our education systems and the young people within them are facing some significant challenges. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals stress upon the high and equitable quality of education across the world. The Global Monitoring Report in 2014 suggests that although many more children are in schools, many are not learning the basics, and in addition many others are disengaged from that schooling because the education they are receiving does not appear to be relevant to the context in which they are operating neither providing the skills they need to thrive. As a result, there is a rapid drop out of the students pursuing higher education.

Currently, India faces an acute shortage of teachers. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for education – ensuring every child has access to quality education by 2030, UNESCO has projected that India will need to recruit 30 lakh, additional teachers. This gap in school vis-a-vis teachers also finds reflection in the recent District Information System for Education Centre (DICE).

Education a vital instrument to achieve the SDGs:

Embarking on the path of sustainable development will require a profound transformation of how we think and act. To create a more sustainable world, individuals must become change-makers. For this, they need the knowledge, appropriate skills, values and attitudes that empower them to contribute to sustainable development. Education, therefore, is crucial for the achievement of sustainable development. “Education can, and must, contribute to a new vision of sustainable global development.” (UNESCO, 2015). Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers learners to make 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 individuals to reflect on their actions, taking into account their current and future social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts, from a local and a global perspective.

ESD is a holistic and transformational education that addresses learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment. Thus, ESD does not only integrate materials such as climate change, poverty and sustainable consumption into the curriculum; it also creates interactive, learner-centred teaching and learning settings. What ESD requires is a shift from teaching to learning. It asks for an action-oriented, transformative pedagogy, which supports self-directed learning, participation and collaboration, problem-orientation, inter- and transdisciplinary and
the linking of formal and informal education. Only such pedagogical approaches trigger the development
of the critical competencies needed for promoting sustainable development.

The former UN Secretary-General Banki Moon said that the agreement encompasses a universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds a historic turning point for our world. With 193 governments coming together to agree on a common framework to tackle 17 major world issues by 2030, educational engagement is seen as critical to help achieve global goals. So, how do we understand the implication of SDG’s and prioritise them, how do we quantify and minimise the potential risk and explore the opportunities?

The Road Map:

The case study administered at Ahlcon International School by all the stakeholder's acts is an SDG guide which is designed to act as a practical introduction to the SDG’s and their implications in the field of education.

A global learning school has leaders, teachers and students working together as global learners in achieving the objectives towards a successful whole-school approach. To support this, schools must

administer a set of guidelines in the curriculum, which is in sync with the sustainable development goals. These guidelines offer schools an opportunity to reflect upon how the interrelationships and characteristics of an outstanding global learning school leader, teacher and student could help contribute to a whole school vision for working towards SDG’s and devising plausible solutions to global problems.

A myriad of activities centred on SDG’s and global learning takes place at three levels Formal, Non-Formal, Informal as an integral part of the curriculum planning.

This three-tiered structure helps to embed the sustainable development goals across the subjects within the institution incorporating project-based learning, interdisciplinary activities, and community outreach programs.

Formal:

Significant classroom methodologies have always had a stimulating effect on the integration of SDGs in the school curriculum. The SDG’s promote a crosser curricular approach by focusing on the concepts and issues rather than the subjects. The students use creative techniques such as ‘Issues Wheels' to investigate the global problems from different viewpoints and generate discussions about finding local solutions to global challenges. Global Action Schools projects were used to explore the various issues and develop critical thinking and enquiry skills. Students also create sway presentations, web pages, mind maps, contribute to online forums and chat sessions to find out what the pupils in other parts of the world are doing to promote the SDGs.

Informal and Non-Formal; We embedded SDGs in the co-scholastic area through an amalgamation of various participatory activities including assemblies, display boards, and inter-school events, clubs and value sessions and engaging classroom programs during the zero periods. Global partnerships with schools in other countries and whole-school programs expose teachers and students to different learning and teaching contexts. Actions arising from the project include increased cultural and environmental awareness among students, thereby leading to the formulation and follow up of sustainable development practices.

To foster student’s role as agents of change, they should play a lead role. Developing global links has played an essential role in the school’s Global Citizenship program. The partnership develops student’s global citizenship skills through collaborative projects and exchange visits across the globe with the partner schools. These activities help in apprising the learners about the sustainable development goals, developing interdependence and help them understand rights and responsibilities. By working with other schools around the world on shared global issues and working out practical solutions to achieve the SDGs by 2030 the students get a direction and purpose for their learning.

About The Author:

Dimple Puri is HOS, DLF World School, Greater Noida.

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