Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Education for Sustainable Development - Indian scenario

A lot has happened on the different strands and components of ESD despite the fact that there is still no holistic work happening on ESD at the moment.

All the work happening in the name of ESD seems to be focused in the field of environment education. Although environment forms an important component of ESD but equally important are the social components i.e gender, diversity issues, human rights, peace, conflict resolution and others.

While there are many organizations working on social components- I am yet to come across any initiative which has a comprehensive work on both the environmental and social components of ESD. Either its environmental or social- disparate.

I would out here share a few cases I have come across of disparate nevertheless efficient efforts towards ESD.


1. The Centre for Environment Education (CEE), as the name suggests has done pioneering work in the field of environment education. Their work ranges from creating primers on environment for both teachers and students. Some of the best primers in the field have been generated by CEE. Training programmes on environment for teachers and students - http://www.ceeindia.org/
They also have an interesting website http://www.kidsrgreen.org/krg.html - the ICT component.

2. Centre for Science and Environment(CSE)- CSE has also done innovative work in the field of ESD through its environmental initiatives. The monthly magazine Gobar Times has been at the forefront of information on environmental sustainability for beginners.

Visit- http://www.gobartimes.org/

The Green Schools Programme on environmental auditing is first of its kind in the region. In this programme, the children of a school do a survey in the school on how resources like water, air and energy etc are being used inside the school. They thus prepare a report card of the school. The manual, which helps the children do the audit, is a good resource book for children and teachers who want to learn about environment. As I have been personally involved in the project since its inception, we have seen the change in teachers and students, when they come to know the reality about their school in terms of environmental practices. Its amazing to see rural schools score over urban schools in terms of sustainability. More on:


The activity sheets on the CSE website also speak about contextual environmental issues:


3. The Energy and Resources Institute(TERI): There work in the environmental field is also good especially their web component:

There are many more organizations working on the environmental component but these are the first ones, which come to my mind. The Ecology and Natural Resource Education (ENRE) project of Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC) is another project which has been successful in the rural areas as opposed to the three mentioned above, which have a footage mostly in urban areas.

The Social component:

Pravah: One of the best institutions in the country working on life skills based education (LSBE). They have developed a full-fledged training programme for children on conflict resolution. The programme is delivered through workshop sessions, which are interactive and activity based. The content includes sessions on non-violence, gender, understanding values, identity, sustainable development, stroking, communication and lots of other relevant issues.
As I have been involved in this project also, I have seen there is a significant change in the attitude of students. In fact a lot of these workshops have materialized into initiatives of students to take on some issues head on in the community.
Similar workshops are also done at the college level and a lot of the workshops have now materialized into formal organizations working on social as well as environmental issues.
Although their work has been largely on the social components but they also some sessions dedicated to resource use and sustainable development.

The main activities include- teacher trainings, sensitization tours, network meetings, clubs etc.

More information on:

http://www.younginfluencers.com/ and www.pravah.org

There are many other organizations working on social components but there efforts are disparate within the social component. They focus only on a single issue i.e either gender or non-iolence or other issues- but no composite work. I may mention here the efforts of various organization working on the principles of democracy have started bal panchayats – SWRC Tiloniya etc.

Miscellaneous components:

Health: There is another strand of ESD, which has flourished, very well- that is health. A lot of organizations have put it under the head of Life skills (which is true to some extent) or sex education.

The Yuva – Adolescent Education Program of the Department of Education, Delhi Government is quite a significant work in as far as the health perspective is concerned. It also has some important sections on the social component as well. The last time I interacted with them, they were desperate to put the environmental perspective in their books. If that has happened- it would have added strength to the programme.

There are many such health based programmes.

ICT : which has been much talked about in the solution exchange forum also is an important part of ESD and would certainly help achieve the gospel ‘ Think Global, act local’- as global information in a village can be achieved only through ICT.

I may mention here once again, that I am still not aware of any programme or practice in the country which has a composite effort taking into consideration the linkages between environmental, social and other components like health, ICT.

But definitely as the idea of ESD gains ground and the funding agencies stress on it- we would find more and more programmes on ESD.

This brings me to another crucial point - As the funding is disparate- on environment, on social development or on ICT- developing a composite programme becomes problematic for non-profit organization working with communities.

Another, unexplored section is that ESD is primarily thought of at the school level, however it is equally important for youth- and not to leave out adults.

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