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Expert Meeting on Thematic Issues in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) under the Mobile Training Team (MTT) Project

© UNESCO/H.Schmid

Organized by APEID, UNESCO Bangkok
10-12 November 2008
Bangkok, Thailand


Background

In March 2005, the United Nations declared 2005-2014 as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and UNESCO was requested to lead the Decade.  To implement the Decade, UNESCO is committed to reorienting education programmes to address sustainability, to building public understanding and awareness of the goals of sustainable development, and to providing practical training to all sectors of the workforce.

To pursue the objective of reorienting education programmes to address sustainability, in May 2006 the Asia-Pacific Programme for Educational Innovation for Development (APEID) initiated the "Expert Meeting on Education for Sustainable Development: Reorienting Education to Address Sustainability".  The meeting sought to identify and conceptualize the content areas for ESD; to analyze the relationship of ESD to other education initiatives, such as Environmental Education (EE), Education for International Understanding (EIU), Education for All (EFA), UN Literacy Decade (UNLD), and Millennium Development Goals (MDG); and to recommend guidelines for reorienting existing education to address sustainable development.

Following the Expert Meeting, APEID organized a consultation meeting on "Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability" in Penang, Malaysia. The meeting, convened in August 2006, examined key components of EIU and ESD with regard to Teacher Education and the potential with regard to policy, curriculum development and the production of educational materials and activities that can bring sustainability perspectives and content to teacher education in different national contexts.  A key outcome of the meeting was the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Regional Network of Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) for ESD (ESD-Net).  The main goal of the ESD-Net is to coordinate efforts by member-TEIs to reorient their curricula to address sustainable development.

The first ESD-Net activity was a Training Workshop for teacher educators from participating TEIs which was held in Bangkok, Thailand on August 2007.  The purpose of the workshop was to examine existing teacher education curricula vis-à-vis ESD in order to identify where the gaps were and to provide training on curriculum design and pedagogical approaches relevant to ESD.  Following this workshop an on-line forum discussion among ESD-Net community on issues relating to (i) Research on ESD; (ii) Teaching and Learning ESD; (iii) ESD Curriculum practices; and (iv) Promoting understanding and Awareness of ESD from mid-May to mid-July 2008.

As a follow-up to this series of activities to reorient education to address sustainability, there is a felt need to identify a number of thematic issues in ESD and to examine how these thematic issues can be incorporated into specific school subjects.  Based on requests from member states in the Asia-Pacific region, the thematic issues that have been identified include climate change, natural disaster preparedness, environmental protection, human and food security, HIV/AIDS prevention, gender sensitizing, peace education and inter-cultural understanding.

The purpose of the Expert Meeting is to bridge the current MTT project with the next one.  The aim is to draw lessons learned from the modality of the current MTT project and to prepare for the next MTT project with special attention given to capacity building workshops and collaborative development of curricula materials for ESD teaching and learning in the region.

Objectives
The objectives of the Expert Meeting are:

1.  To explicate the issues, content, skills and values relating to climate change, natural disaster preparedness, environmental protection, human and food security, HIV/AIDS prevention, gender sensitizing, peace education and inter-cultural understanding.

2.  To examine how these knowledge, issues, perspectives, skills and values can be incorporated into specific school subjects such as science and social studies.

3.  To plan a regional training workshop for teacher educators to establish a basis for reorienting science and social studies curricula to incorporate the knowledge, perspectives, skills and values associated with sustainable development.