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Education for sustainable development

educationCharting the  way forward

Environment education teachers, university students, partners from education institutions, government agencies, civil society organisations involved in environment protection are taking part in a two-day conference  to review our successes, challenges and chart the way forward  in education for sustainable development.

This first two-day National Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) which started yesterday is being hosted by the University of Seychelles (UniSey) at its Anse Royale campus.

It was officially opened by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Didier Dogley in the presence of the Minister for Education Macsuzy Mondon.

In opening remarks he noted that Seychelles’ reputation in the environment sector is world-renowned.

“This has been made possible because the political vision, will, leadership and commitment have always been there,” Minister Dogley stressed.

“Today, we have more than 20 years of experience in implementing environment education in a formal setting in schools and informally through various forms of campaigns and programmes. Our education system plays a key role in shaping the beliefs and attitudes of the citizens of tomorrow,” Minister Dogley added.

He said through an enhanced environment education for sustainability in schools we envision nurturing our children to become eco-citizens, who will contribute to sustainable development both locally and globally.

He reminded everyone present that the Ministry of Education institutionalised environment education in the school curriculum back in the 1990s.

“We created wildlife clubs in all the schools across the country and trained teachers and volunteers to deliver effectively on these programmes. Recently, we launched a new eco-school initiative focused on renewable energy, waste management and water harvesting technologies,” Minister Dogley pointed out.

He stressed that not only government has played its part but also non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

“Many of the programmes on the local media have been sponsored by private companies who have joined us on many occasions and participated fully in campaigns like clean up the world, tree planting and other national initiatives. This has all led to a coalition and partnership of the converted and willing – a prerequisite for success,” he added.

But Minister Dogley stressed that we still need to identify innovative ways and means to convert those who are still messing up our beloved country.

An initiative of the Environmental Education Association of Seychelles (EEAS), the conference  has received financial support from the GEF Small Grants programme, as well as other support from the ministries of Education, Environment, Energy and Climate Change and other key partners and stakeholders.

The conference will also focus on partnerships to link formal and informal education sectors.

It is expected that at the end of the two days those taking part in the discussions will better understand all that is being done at national level in line with the priorities of the Unesco’s Global Action Programme for ESD launched in 2015.

In remarks to welcome everyone taking part in the conference, Joëlle Perreau, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Development, reaffirmed the UniSey’s commitment to promoting sustainable development principles through the different courses it offers as well as through its operations, highlighting the institution’s decision to install solar panels on the roof of its main building at the Anse Royale campus a few years ago.

“Today we are happy with the choice we made as we are benefitting from a huge reduction in our electricity bills,” Ms Perreau said.

She added that they are now planning to install solar panels on the roof of their Ma Joie campus.

“We are doing our best to contribute to national effort to promote education for more sustainable development,” Ms Perreau pointed out.

As a small island developing state Seychelles has done and achieved a lot in its effort to curb and mitigate the negative impacts of socio-ecological issues on its environment, people and economy. Seychelles’ environment is very sensitive to such issues namely unsustainable management of waste, climate change, disaster risks reduction… Therefore it is for this reason that the government and its partners have for so many years been striving to educate its people on how they too can help to protect, sustainably manage and promote our beautiful but fragile socio-ecological system.

Dr Michelle Martin, the chairperson of the EEAS, gave an overview of the work the association has been doing as well as Seychelles’ achievements in ESD.

She stressed that Seychelles has over the years worked hard and today has gained world recognition as a leader in environment protection.

She stressed that for sustainable development to take place there needs to be peace and stability in society, something we can be proud of.

But she stressed that a lot more needs to be done in regard to educating our people on the importance of caring for our environment.

Elaborating on the Unesco’s Global Action Programme (GAP) for ESD which seeks to generate and scale-up ESD action, Jeannette Larue, technical adviser for environmental education in the

Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and a member of the National Commission for Unesco, said ESD is a must if we want to continue making success in sustainable development.

The GAP focuses on five priority action areas:

– Advancing policy;

– Integrating sustainability practices into education and training environments (whole-institution approaches);

– Increasing the capacity of educators and trainers;

– Empowering and mobilising youth;

– Encouraging local communities and municipal authorities to develop community-based ESD programmes.

Ms Larue noted that effort is being stepped up in education to address sustainability issues and said Seychelles is very instrumental in advancing ESD matters while local commitment is also growing as is multi-stakeholder partnership which is very effective.

With regard to challenges Ms Larue said more work needs to be done when it comes to institutionalising ESD and more research is also required in this area and more effort need to be invested in empowering the youths on ESD issues.

Source : Seychelles NATION

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