The Role of Education for Sustainable Development Goals

sustainability education
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The agenda 2030 has set high standards for our society’s future. The Sustainable Development Goals represent an effort to guide society toward being more accessible and just by conveying a strong dimension of social development, human dignity, and demanding justice at all stages. Sustainable development should maintain a balance between social needs and environmental preservation while simultaneously advancing the economy. That issue boosts the country’s wealth and economy (Emas 2015). (Umoh, 2010, p.81) investigated the importance of sustainable educational development and explained that “In a non-quantifiable way, EE improves people’s overall quality of life by opening opportunities for participation in development and processes, including the social, economic, political, and cultural spheres of life”.

Various researchers believe education is crucial for altering behaviors and promoting analytical thinking toward a more sustainable society (Kopnina, 2015; Frantz and Mayer, 2014). Education for environmental sustainability is fundamental to developing these abilities in a multidisciplinary manner that can make students understand that the paths to sustainability entail financial, environmental, and social components. The difficulty for academic institutions is to restructure business strategy in a way that is consistent with the environmental objective (Jones et al. 2008). The sustainable development goals and the viability of addressing them using learning, especially through sustainable educational development, will be covered in this discussion.

The first of the sustainable development goals is “No Poverty,” To ensure equitable development and fair resource distribution, significant changes in national policy are needed. However, education also plays a significant part in the fight against poverty by teaching susceptible populations of individuals how to adopt better, responsible choices. Low-income individuals and ethnic and racial groups are currently more affected by the effects of climate change, and they typically lack information. Because of this, they are unable to ask for aid or see their chances (Maantay and Maroko, 2009).

In order to help their students, develop the skills to make smarter choices, education systems must be equipped to handle the issues that society is confronting due to climate change. (Power and Maclean, 2011, p.7) explained the ESD as, “Learning how to live and work in ways that are sustainable includes, but necessarily goes beyond, formal programs for education for sustainable development (ESD): the principles of sustainable development need to be installed in all levels and to cover all types of education”.

There is a responsibility for capacity development in contrast to the function of sustainable educational development in educating and informing society’s excluded groups about climate change. Skills and knowledge acquired through education result in more capable people who will have higher possibilities of finding employment or working for themselves, contributing to their country’s economic progress (Umoh, 2010).

To support growth and employment, poverty reduction, and food security, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has issued a paper that discusses the significance of expanding education for rural people. According to (FAO 2009, p. 109), “Enhanced human capital in the rural space can be trained for increased on-farm productivity and for off-farm employment opportunities as well as learning that leads to improved social well-being, social capital formation and satisfactory livelihoods”.

Educational sustainable development is simply one of several strategies for reducing poverty. Still, its impacts could have long-term positive effects that benefit the community in general and encourage sustained development, which is also an objective of Goal 8’s related Employment and Economic Growth.

The second Objective, which is “Zero Hunger,” is closely related to the first. Goal 2’s objectives include ending hunger, achieving food production, and sustaining agricultural output. The second objective aims to double agricultural output and small-scale food producers’ earnings, especially those of women, indigenous peoples, farm owners, cattle herders, and fishermen. It does this, among other things, by ensuring that everyone has safe, adequate rights to land, additional access to productive ideas and supplies, information, financial sectors, marketplaces, and possibilities for value-adding activities and non-farm jobs (United Nations, 2015).

The sustainable development goals enable low-income people to improve their well-being while promoting food security by boosting food production and allowing equal resource access to local producers. As a result, Goals 1 and 2 are related, and educational sustainable development is involved in both of these challenges. One of the elements of educational sustainable development is the use of teaching methods (Kopnina 2015) and interactive education (Ghilardi-Lopes et al. 2013) to encourage students to apply what they have learned and have a deeper understanding of how individual actions have implications. The development of agroecological techniques in educational institutions is greatly favored when it comes to issues of food security.

To confront manage climate change and its effects on agricultural production and food security, educators must develop adaptive management abilities through trial and monitoring of agroecological methods that are appropriate for the local ecosystem (Gregory et al. 2013). Fresh water and hygiene may also be encouraged using analytical analysis, problem-solving techniques, and environmental responsibility towards the learner’s community, according to objective 6. Through outreach initiatives, students can engage with their local community, sharing information and helping to improve the living environment. According to (Sharp and McLaughlin, 1997), “Students empowered to solve problems in their own neighborhoods will mobilize the communities to negotiate the issues and help them communicate their opinions to the policymakers and community leaders.”

The fourth goal, Quality Education, aims to ensure that both males and females can learn to read and write and improve their lives by giving them the skills they need for a sustainable existence. Target 4.7 is particularly concerned with ESD:

By 2030, make sure that all students have the knowledge and abilities necessary to advance sustainable development, including, among other things, through instruction in sustainable living, gender equality, human rights, and promoting a culture of peace and nonviolence. They should also be taught about global citizenship, respect for cultural diversity, and culture’s role in advancing sustainability (United Nations, 2015).

This highlights the value of sustainable development education in promoting a range of competencies and knowledge necessary to pursue sustainable development. Wals et al. (1990) argued that educational institutions offer a rich environment and the necessary resources to give students a more meaningful education. Only well-mannered people have the freedom of speech and opinion to hold everyone accountable and direct them toward the path of sustainable development, as stated by Engjellushe (2013).

At the same time, Goal 4’s target 3.7 and other Goal 4 targets work to advance Goal 5, another SDG focusing on gender equality. Educational institutions contain a high potential for promoting diversity, social inclusion, and gender equality by providing equal opportunities for knowledge access and skill development (Gomez et al., 2015; Gurin et al., 2002). Gender equality is one of the main characteristics of a democratic educational process, along with promoting diversity and social inclusion.

Additionally, a study conducted by UNESCO (2016) found that one of the best ways to improve community adaptation based on climate has been by educating women and girls. Goal 8, ” Economic Growth and Decent Work,” Goal 9, ” Infrastructure, Innovation, and Industry,” Goal 10, “Reduced Inequalities,” Goal 11, “Sustainable Communities and Cities,” and Goal 16, ” Justice, Peace, and Strong Institutions” are all supported by the idea of social inclusion.

United Nations (2015) argued that target 10.2 of Goal 10 should be brought up in this context as it seeks to “strengthen and enhance the political, economic and social inclusion, regardless of religion, origin, ethnicity, race, disability, sex, age, or economic status”. A sensory garden was described through a case study by Hussein (2010) conducted in Brazil’s southern region as a means of encouraging the social involvement of deaf students in an environmental education program. The study came to the conclusion that the activity was a success as it allowed the deaf students to use senses other than their already-familiar vision and contributed to the advancement of scientific knowledge while honoring the viewpoints and backgrounds of students (Hussein, 2010).

Clean and affordable energy is the focus of Goal 7, which is closely related to advancing new technologies. According to Jennings (1997), education is crucial to the renewable energy sector since:

1. It increases public understanding of the technology and confidentiality in its application.

2. Access to support services and technical assistance has been crucial for business.

3. To increase comfort with and knowledge of the technology, education and a demonstration program should be combined.

4. Education can create a pool of qualified researchers to carry on technological advancement.

5. Technical support personnel who have been properly trained have been necessary to install, repair, and maintain renewable energy systems.

6. People must be knowledgeable about technology and confident in using it when necessary (Jennings, 1997).

By 2030, Target 7.4 aims to “increase international cooperation for promoting investment in clean energy technology and energy infrastructure, including cleaner and advanced fossil-fuel technology, efficiency in energy, and renewable energy, and facilitating clean energy technology and research access”. ESD has the potential to provide a much broader education in fundamental subjects and help future energy professionals comprehend the new technologies development, which also leads to new employment opportunities for those qualified people (Jennings & Lund, 2001; Jennings, 2009).

Behavior change is one of the traits of ESD, as was already mentioned. To prepare conscious, responsible citizens who can incorporate what they have learned into their future actions, the educational process must play its part. Therefore, those educational institutions that decide to include education for sustainable development in their curricula will be putting learners’ ability to “do more with less” to the test, which has been the beneficial mechanism for upcoming issues that climate change adaptation will require.

Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals is about responsible consumption and promotion. Thus, when it comes to Goal 12, “Responsible Consumption and Promotion”, those Education Institutions that choose to incorporate Education for Sustainable Development into their curriculum will be exercising the learner’s skills to “do more with less”, which has been the beneficial mechanism for upcoming issues that climate change adaptation will require.

According to Tapia-Fonllem et al. (2013), “A person who engages in sustainable behavior not only engages in one kind of action but tends to act in an integrated pro-environmentally manner”. Due to this, ESD frequently uses simulation exercises to help students understand the effects of their choices. These exercises replicate real-world situations. It can also promote creative, logical, assertive, and independent behavior (Mingazova, 2014; Steiner & Posch, 2006).

Given the opportunity to interact with real issues in various contexts in a safe environment, simulation activities have been a crucial tool in the development of appropriate professional behavior, according to the QAA, which stands for Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA, 2014). Given how climate change affects food loss in biodiversity and productivity, the following SDGs – (Goal 13) “Climate Action”, (Goal 14) “Life Below Water”, and (Goal 15) “Life on Land” – have a close relationship with one another. However, it is important to note that Goal 13 has been directly or indirectly associated with the achievement of almost all the other goals. ESD is not only directly relevant to raising awareness in this context (Ki-moon, 2016).

Additionally, it has the capability of introducing global, national, and regional problems in a transdisciplinary manner, allowing students to recognize various viewpoints and contexts when approaching a problem. ESD “allows individuals to handle and work with solutions to issues that cause harm to global sustainability” (UNESCO, 2016).

Using transdisciplinary practical activities as a successful mutual learning format to practice problem-solving skills, as argued by Scholz et al. (2006) and Steiner and Posch (2006). There has been no more time to waste in delaying action on climate change, and a learning environment has been a most logical setting for having discussions, exchanging new ideas, and cooperating on projects. Additionally, the educational institution’s involvement extends beyond the classroom, whereas public acceptance of climate change-related policies is aided by access to information on the topic, according to UNESCO (2005).

The final goal, “Partnerships for the Goals,” makes clear that a variety of actors, including the private sector, governments, and civil society, must be involved in order to realize all of the SDGs. Educational institutions can able to collaborate with the UN in this partnership context and use the UN’s platform to advance sustainable development. A more sustainable future cannot be achieved through education alone, but without sustainable development, learning and education, one cannot be able to achieve that goal (UNESCO, 2016). The seventeen goals listed here can all be incorporated into the context of education in one way or another.

There are many similarities between the roles of the Sustainable Development Goals and education for sustainable development, which must be taken advantage of for the good of society. Partnerships are essential to this effort, as the previous Goal emphasized, so they should be promoted. Goal 4 specifically mentions ESD as a part of promoting sustainable development simultaneously. What’s left is the leaders of educational institutions’ determination to take advantage of this chance to modify their curricula and prepare their staff and students to take on these challenges.

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