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ESD for 'Sustainable Goa'

INTRODUCTION

Education plays a central role in shaping our world tomorrow, as it provides the skills, perspectives, knowledge and values to live in a sustainable manner. There are many terms describing the 'practice of teaching for sustainability', of which Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is the most commonly used one.

What is ESD?

ESD was first described by Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 which reorients education to guide and motivate people to become responsible citizens of the planet. ESD is a vision of education that seeks to balance human and economic well-being with cultural traditions and respect for the earth's natural resources.

Sustainable development can be achieved only when the three core elements of environment, economy and society are harmonized. ESD helps in understanding, to draw linkages and to establish interrelationships amongst these three core elements of development.

As per UNESCO, ESD aims to help people develop the attitudes, skills, perspectives and knowledge to make informed decisions and act upon them for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future. ESD goes beyond teaching 'about sustainable development'; it is 'experiencing and adopting practices to live sustainably in harmony with the environment'.

How can ESD benefit Goa?

Goa is at the crossroad of development. It is extremely essential that the youth in the state are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to be able to make informed choices for a sustainable Goa. Our education needs to make students think rather than reproduce what is in the book. Our students need to have an opinion on development issues in the state and for that they need all the background knowledge so as to adopt a balanced approach.

The first step would be by imparting knowledge about local resources and ecosystems and enabling them to see their inter relationship between the social and economic aspects so as to be able to appreciate the value of these resources. For instance, sand dunes along our coasts have been razed as they hinder the unobstructed sea view, or it is ripped off its vegetation as that is not appealing to the eye. However, these acts have a serious ecological impact. Sand dunes are nature's first line of defense against the winds and waves, and hence is a natural buffer that protects our hinterlands. It is only when people understand this, they will value them for the services they provide, and hence will be inclined to conserve them.

Education in Goa must integrate ESD at all stages right from the pre-primary to the higher secondary and advanced stages.

It should also be integrated within all forms of the existing educational set-up, i.e. formal and otherwise.

The four major components of ESD are as follows:

  • KNOWLEDGE: Basic knowledge of natural & social sciences, and the humanities is essential.
  • VALUES: Respect for present and future generations, respect for cultural diversity, and for the natural environment.
  • ISSUES & PERSPECTIVES: To be examined with a balanced approach and from the perspectives of all stakeholders.
  • SKILLS: Practical skills to enable continuous learning in order to lead sustainable lives

ESD is thus multi-disciplinary and treats learners as active participants rather than passive receivers in the process. This helps in empowering our students to think and act as responsible citizens and to find sustainable solutions to real life issues at the state, national and international levels.

ESD tips for Schools

  • Learning about the environment: We need to inculcate an interest and understanding about the state‚Äôs natural resources, culture and heritage amongst our youth.
  • Learning through the environment: We need to adopt methods such as nature trails, outdoor trips and field visits that will enable the youth to engage with their environment, learn and appreciate it.
  • Learning for the Environment: We need to encourage and motivate our youth to take action to conserve and protect the environment.

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