Sustainable Development through Culture Education

Manila Bulletin, June 5, 2005 | Go to article overview

Sustainable Development through Culture Education


I HAVE an abiding faith in Culture Education as the enduring force to develop and transform values relevant to the current and evolving needs of societies and nations, such as Sustainable Development. Culture Education touches the life systems of individuals, groups, and societies beyond skills and competencies. Blended with technology, the result could be a formidable force which could have prevented the unforeseen disasters of big corporate governance which came to light at the beginning of this third millennium.

In the last decades, heroic efforts have been initiated by the United Nations and other inter-governmental organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations and various stakeholders, like business corporations and industry, towards the cause of sustainable development. Good intentions and words of commitment, however, ring hollow when viewed within the rate and pace of developments that have been achieved towards the cause of sustainable development.

The concept of sustainable development has been appended to existing programs and priorities and infused in the ethics and values of existing institutions in an honest to goodness effort to stimulate awareness and acceptance of Sustainable Development as both imperative and irreversible in significance. There is the recognition, the spirit, and the willingness to advance the cause of sustainable development but seemingly wanting in taking the risks to fast track radical and concrete action to produce tangible results.

To sustain sustainable development, it must be nurtured as a value and a way of life as a component of Culture Education with, by, and for all participating and contributing members of all societies primarily as human beings and secondarily as individuals with ideological and/or economic interests. Here is where my faith in Culture education comes in as a force to instill values like Sustainable Development instead of, or in addition to it being a mere appendage to established practices and operations.

It should be woven into the fabric of the education system of all countries which will promote it as a value and a way of life at all levels from preschool to grade school, elementary, secondary, tertiary, and graduate studies in the same manner that the values of honesty, patriotism and the like are inculcated through the educational institutions of every country through various different strategies and approaches. To sustain Sustainable Development it must be imputed as a specific value. It can not be assumed that it can be subsumed under the traditional values nurtured by educational institutions.

The ultimate goal is to build a critical mass of citizens and professionals who are imbued with the essence of sustainable development as an unavoidable component in all fields of endeavor. This critical mass of sustainable development conscious individuals enter their respective professional fields and become part of the global force which will ensure that sustainable development be a basic natural part of their respective endeavors as ordinary as other traditional values expected of them by institutions, agencies, organizations and corporations.

When this comes about then the debate on sustainable development will be beyond the economics of it all. Rather it shall be in the realm of values underpinning and motivating a way of life of individuals, families, communities, nations and the world in general. Sustainable development will emerge as the centerpiece of all institutions rather than as a reluctant appendage to traditional institutional preoccupation.

World leaders must accept the reality that it is indeed a tall order for business corporations, which are traditionally focused on profit returns for their investors, to make radical ethical shifts towards sustainable development considerations. For most corporations it is coming too late and at best only cosmetic symbolic incremental efforts may be possible in order to be counted in one way or another in the bandwagon towards sustainable development. …

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