Ministry of Education, Guyana

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 15:39

Education For Sustainable Development

Article Index:

7.0 Pillar 3: Provide equitable and inclusive access to ESD in all communities

ESD requires the involvement of everyone. ESD is an active, action-oriented learning process which informs and raises awareness for the implementation of solutions for the achievement of sustainability. This requires capacity building through a participatory approach that engages the entire population. This level of involvement creates a greater sense of ownership and commitment to action.

7.1 Special Needs Education

ESD will reach everyone, taking his or her unique circumstances into consideration. This is especially so for citizens, particularly children, with special-education needs. The Ministry of Education’s Special Education Needs (SEN) Action Plan aims at empowering and including persons with special educational needs, such as disabilities, in education. These action areas, listed below, will be adopted in the delivery of ESD. The action areas are:

  1. Provide a safe, healthy and protective environment for children with SEN. This policy advocates the rehabilitation and construction of facilities such as ramps, rails, etc. which uses environmentally friendly materials.
  2. Establish alternative learning paths for children with special education needs. This policy suggests that these alternative learning paths include the learning pillars for sustainable development so that as children with special needs education are adequately equipped with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to enter the world of work.
  3. Cater to those with hearing and visual impairment through the use of sign language, JAWS and Braille. This ensures the alternative learning paths for children with special education needs can effectively communicate the ESD learning pillars.
  4. Raise public awareness about the importance of capacity building for children with Special Education Needs on issues relating to sustainable development.
  5. Promote a culture of proper environmental management in special schools i.e. waste disposal, noise pollution, through teacher training. Some strategies to achieving this may include sustainable development lessons on waste disposal and self-conduct
  6. Training of teachers for more evidence based environmentally friendly natural pedagogical approaches to dealing with SEN/Disability.

    7.1 Non-Formal and Informal Education

Non-formal and informal learning opportunities contribute significantly to the achievement of sustainable development. Non-formal and informal education that is relevant to ESD is provided through the local institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Ministry of Education, Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), Office of Climate Change (OCC) and Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development (Iwokrama) and Conservation International- Guyana, among others.

These types of education are truly lifelong learning processes whereby everyone gets the opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and values from his or her daily experience and the educative influences and resources in his or her environment.

7.1.1 Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning supports sustainable development for individuals and communities. Education and learning opportunities for active citizenship currently vary in the different regions in Guyana. Continuing training and professional development tailored to these specific needs are essential to empower local communities to take effective and necessary actions. Learning designed for the community will help to provide new knowledge and skills to improve livelihoods in a sustainable way. Some examples are eco-friendly farming and fishing skills, understanding diverse values, beliefs and customs, and addressing social and economic inequalities.

Local community empowerment provides the foundation for sustainable development by enabling local people to take direct and practical action to tackle the problems that they face in this changing and globalising world. An excellent example of this is the establishment of the Village Mangrove Action Committees (VMACs) managed under the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project in 2010. Another local example of community action leading to transformative results is the Surama Eco Lodge which was established in 1988.

In addition, a local community approach to ESD will help Guyanese to re-identify, re-evaluate and further develop local and indigenous knowledge. This knowledge is based on the wisdom of individual communities which is relevant in addressing changes in their natural environment.

7.1.2 Community Based ESD

In Guyana, one way of achieving Community Based ESD is through the use of Community/Resource Learning Centres (CLCs) and other community organisations. These organisations play a central role in the empowerment of the communities through education. There is the potential for these learning centres to provide alternative equivalency education at primary and secondary levels, including youth and adult literacy and numeracy programmes and spaces for group learning and self- studies, especially for people with special needs (students with disabilities, school drop-outs and non-native speakers). NGOs such as the Iwokrama and Conservation International – Guyana are already engaged with local communities to support sustainable livelihoods. These collaborations cover all forms of education - formal, non-formal and informal - for people of all ages and from diverse cultural, economic, social and ethnic backgrounds. The new knowledge gained through research parsed at the tertiary level should feed into the teaching and learning process at all levels.

It is recommended that Community/Resource Learning Centres provide lifelong learning activities (capacity building programmes for life skills and livelihood or protection of cultural heritage) that proactively respond to the expressed needs of local community members. These are often conducted through relatively unstructured, informal and hands-on training activities (farming, craft work, environmental conservation), providing a space for peer counselling and for people with common issues and interests to gather. The programmes constitute open and safe spaces for intergenerational dialogue and learning involving schoolchildren, young people and adults.

(UNESCO, Communities in Action Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development,

Community-based ESD approaches will provide opportunities to revisit and reclaim local/indigenous knowledge, cultures and wisdom and to rediscover what the individual communities can contribute to achieving sustainable development. Knowledge generated through these processes must be used in the formal education system to further contextualise ESD. The Community/Resource Learning Centres must be linked both with the ESD Coordinating Body and a centre for sustainability at the tertiary level to provide the framework to support these efforts.

7.2 Networking

Many organisations in both the public and private sectors have made efforts to address sustainability. However, these take place in an isolated, piecemeal manner. To achieve sustainability, the efforts must be coordinated with greater collaboration and integration among all stakeholder bodies and individuals. There is need for coordination and integration of the ongoing relevant, yet fragmented and disparate, initiatives. A national ESD network will be established to reduce this level of fragmentation. This national ESD network will facilitate the necessary level of engagement, and must be established by the ESDCB. This level of networking is necessary for the actions recommended by this Policy to be fully embraced and implemented by local institutions and key stakeholders.

The national ESD network must feed into regional and international ESD networks, such as the ESD UNESCO network, and strengthen bilateral cooperation and partnership. This will reduce the fragmented approach which presently exists at the local level. The reduction of this fragmented approach will reduce redundancy and result in greater efficiency in the use of resources. The ESD network will provide the opportunity for institutions to pool resources and support each other for the implementation of this Policy.

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