Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Prospective Teachers' Attitudes towards Social and Environmental Aspects of Education for Sustainable Development

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Prospective Teachers' Attitudes towards Social and Environmental Aspects of Education for Sustainable Development

Article excerpt

The concept of sustainable development was originally identified in the document World Conservation Strategy (IUCN, 1980) and then strengthened by the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, 1987). One of the first and generally used definitions is that anticipated by WCED (1987) "Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (p.165). Though, different interest groups like educators, economists and politicians interpret it differently according to their context (Scott & Gough, 2003).

Society, environment and economy are the three main pillars of sustainable development. These three areas are interconnected through culture (UNESCO Education Sector, 2006). Sustainable development is an imperative aspect for enduring human welfare (European Commission, 2006). Freedom, solidarity, equality, tolerance, shared responsibility, and respect for nature are the core values of sustainable development (Leiserowitz, et al., 2006). The core value of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is equity, which may be intergenerational, social, gender, between man and nature or among communities (Sleurs, 2008).

All members of society governmental and intergovernmental bodies, civil society, NGOs, and private sector are the stakeholders of sustainable development (UNESCO Education Sector, 2006) and everyone must contribute for it (European Commission, 2006). Education should play a key role in giving awareness to prepare the individuals and society to play their role effectively for sustainable development (Chhokar, Pandya & Raghunathan, 2002; UNESCO, 2011).

The ESD is an emerging area of the curriculum (Summers, Corney & Childs, 2004). It aims at developing perspectives, knowledge, skills and attitudes among the students to individually and collectively participate in the informed decisions and practices, both at local and global level, that will improve the quality of their own and others today's life without affecting the quality of life in future (CEE, 1998; UNESCO, 2012). The ESD helps the members of society to deal effectively with the problems that are threatening the sustainability of the globe. It gives awareness to the individuals about the factors that impede or foster sustainable development (UNESCO, 2011).

Education for sustainable development is broader than environmental education. It also includes the socio-cultural and political issues like poverty, quality of life, equity and democracy. The ESD revolves around promoting some core values. Those of primary importance are; respect of others of present and future generations, respect for differences, respect for the environment and for the resources of the planet. Education enables us to understand each other and our environment, which provides a basis for developing the attitude of respect. It also helps us to adopt such behaviours and practices that result in leading a life without depriving others (UNESCO Education Sector, 2006).

The ESD should be a lifelong process for everyone, at every stage, and be achieved through formal and informal modes. It should be explicitly mentioned in the legislation and national education policy so that it can be implemented effectively (UNESCO, 2011). Adding simply a subject in the curriculum is not sufficient. Rather it should be an organizing principle of the curriculum. This requires reorientation of educational systems and reorganization of curricula (UNESCO Education Sector, 2006). Problem based learning is the appropriate methodology for teaching ESD (Steinemann, 2003). Research on ESD should be expanded to explore the effectiveness of alternative strategies of ESD at different levels of schooling (UNESCO, 2011).

There are five domains of ESD namely; knowledge of ESD, system thinking, emotions, ethics and values, and actions (Sleurs, 2008). Time and space dimensions (past, present and future; local and global) should be addressed in the knowledge domain. …

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