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Immortalizing Values Through Education for Sustainable Development

Education is the primary agent of transformation towards sustainable development, increasing people’s capacities to transform their visions for society into reality. Education not only provides scientific and technical skills, it also provides the motivation, and social support for pursuing and applying them. For this reason, society must be deeply concerned that much of current education falls far short of what is required. When we say this, it reflects the very necessities across the cultures that allow everyone become responsible towards quality enhancement.

Improving the quality and revelation of education and reorienting its goals to recognize the importance of sustainable development must be among society’s highest priorities. It is not that we talk only about environment but also about every component of life.

We therefore need to clarify the concept of education for sustainable development. It was a major challenge for educators during the last decade. The meanings of sustainable development in educational set ups, the appropriate balance of peace, human rights, citizenship, social equity, ecological and development themes in already overloaded curricula, and ways of integrating the humanities, the social sciences and the arts into what had up-to-now been seen and practiced as a branch of science education.

Some argued that educating for sustainable development ran the risk of programming while others wondered whether asking schools to take a lead in the transition to sustainable development was asking too much of teachers.

These debates were compounded by the desire of many, predominantly environmental, NGOs to contribute to educational planning without the requisite understanding of how education systems work, how educational change and innovation takes place, and of relevant curriculum development, professional development and instructive values. Not realizing that effective educational change takes time, others were critical of governments for not acting more quickly.

Consequently, many international, regional and national initiatives have contributed to an expanded and refined understanding of the meaning of education for sustainable development. For example, Education International, the major umbrella group of teachers’ unions and associations in the world, has issued a declaration and action plan to promote sustainable development through education.

A common agenda in all of these is the need for an integrated approach through which all communities, government entities, collaborate in developing a shared understanding of and commitment to policies, strategies and programs of education for sustainable development.

Actively promoting the integration of education into sustainable development at local community

In addition, many individual governments have established committees, panels, advisory councils and curriculum development projects to discuss education for sustainable development, develop policy and appropriate support structures, programs and resources, and fund local initiatives.

Indeed, the roots of education for sustainable development are firmly planted in the environmental education efforts of such groups. Along with global education, development education, peace education, citizenship education, human rights education, and multicultural and anti-racist education that have all been significant, environmental education has been particularly significant. In its brief thirty-year history, contemporary environmental education has steadily striven towards goals and outcomes similar and comparable to those inherent in the concept of sustainability.

A New Vision for Education

These many initiatives illustrate that the international community now strongly believes that we need to foster – through education – the values, behavior and lifestyles required for a sustainable future. Education for sustainable development has come to be seen as a process of learning how to make decisions that consider the long-term future of the economy, ecology and social well-being of all communities. Building the capacity for such futures-oriented thinking is a key task of education.

This represents a new vision of education, a vision that helps learners better understand the world in which they live, addressing the complexity and inter-contentedness of problems such as poverty, wasteful consumption, environmental degradation, urban decay, population growth, gender inequality, health, conflict and the violation of human rights that threaten our future. This vision of education emphasizes a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to developing the knowledge and skills needed for a sustainable future as well as changes in values, behavior, and lifestyles. This requires us to reorient education systems, policies and practices in order to empower everyone, young and old, to make decisions and act in culturally appropriate and locally relevant ways to redress the problems that threaten our common future. We therefore need to think globally and act locally. In this way, people of all ages can become empowered to develop and evaluate alternative visions of a sustainable future and to fulfill these visions through working creatively with others.

Seeking sustainable development through education requires educators to:

• Place an ethic for living sustainable, based upon principles of social justice, democracy, peace and ecological integrity, at the center of society’s concerns.
• Encourage a meeting of disciplines, a linking of knowledge and of expertise, to create understandings that are more integrated and contextualized.
• Encourage lifelong learning, starting at the beginning of life and stuck in life – one based on a passion for a radical transformation of the moral character of society.
• Develop to the maximum the potential of all human beings throughout their lives so that they can achieve self-fulfillment and full self-expression with the collective achievement of a viable future.
• Value aesthetics, the creative use of the imagination, an openness to risk and flexibility, and a willingness to explore new options.
• Encourage new alliances between the State and civil society in promoting citizens’ liberation and the practice of democratic principles.
• Mobilize society in an intensive effort so as to eliminate poverty and all forms of violence and injustice.
• Encourage a commitment to the values for peace in such a way as to promote the creation of new lifestyles and living patterns
• Identify and pursue new human projects in the context of local sustainability within an earthly realization and a personal and communal awareness of global responsibility.
• Create realistic hope in which the possibility of change and the real desire for change are accompanied by a rigorous, active participation in change, at the appropriate time, in favor of a sustainable future for all.

These responsibilities emphasize the key role of educators as ambassador of change. There are over 60 million teachers in the world – and each one is a key ambassador for bringing about the changes in lifestyles and systems that we need. But, education is not confined to the classrooms of formal education. As an approach to social learning, education for sustainable development also encompasses the wide range of learning activities in basic and post-basic education, technical and vocational training and tertiary education, and both non-formal and informal learning by both young people and adults within their families and workplaces and in the wider community. This means that all of us have important roles to play as both ‘learners’ and ‘teachers’ in advancing sustainable development.

Key Lessons

Deciding how education should contribute to sustainable development is a major task. In coming to decisions about what approaches to education will be locally relevant and culturally appropriate, countries, educational institutions and their communities may take heed of the following key lessons learnt from discussion and debate about education and sustainable development over the past decade.

• Education for sustainable development must explore the economic, political and social implications of sustainability by encouraging learners to reflect critically on their own areas of the world, to identify non-viable elements in their own lives and to explore the tensions among conflicting aims. Development strategies suited to the particular circumstances of various cultures in the pursuit of shared development goals will be crucial. Educational approaches must take into account the experiences of indigenous cultures and minorities, acknowledging and facilitating their original and significant contributions to the process of sustainable development.

• The movement towards sustainable development depends more on the development of our moral sensitivities than on the growth of our scientific understanding – important as that is. Education for sustainable development cannot be concerned only with disciplines that improve our understanding of nature, despite their undoubted value. Success in the struggle for sustainable development requires an approach to education that strengthens our engagement in support of other values – especially justice and fairness – and the awareness that we share a common destiny with others.

• Ethical values are the principal factor in social consistency and at the same time, the most effective agent of change and transformation. Ultimately, sustainability will depend on changes in behavior and lifestyles, changes which will need to be motivated by a shift in values and rooted in the cultural and moral precepts upon which behavior is based. Without change of this kind, even the most enlightened legislation, the cleanest technology, the most sophisticated research will not succeed in steering society towards the long-term goal of sustainability.

• Changes in lifestyle will need to be accompanied by the development of an ethical awareness, whereby the inhabitants of rich countries discover within their cultures the source of a new and active solidarity, which will make possible to eradicate the widespread poverty that now besets 80% of the world’s population as well as the environmental degradation and other problems linked to it.

• Ethical values are shaped through education, in the broadest sense of the term. Education is also essential in enabling people to use their ethical values to make informed and ethical choices. Fundamental social changes, such as those required to move towards sustainability, come about either because people sense an ethical imperative to change or because leaders have the political will to lead in that direction and sense that the people will follow them.

Education For Freedom Or Training For Slavery?

“Only the educated are free.” ~Epictetus

I was a teacher for more than ten years. I loved teaching and learning and for that reason I went back to school way too many time to mention. With all this “education” and teaching, I eventually realized that there was a disconnect between education and future success after graduation.

I also read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad and more importantly his earlier book, If You Want To Be Rich And Happy Don’t Go To School. I agreed with his criticisms about the education establishment: that schools fail to teach financial education, that schools actually harm students when they reward actions that are detrimental to future success and punish actions and habits that are vital to success.

What do schools really want to accomplish? Their failure is their success.

I could go on about how schools manipulate students, kill the wonder and the spirits of children, teach them to glorify the state, and to expect the government to provide for everything.

School failures are actually successes, because schools are rewarded with more power and money as scores fall and illiteracy increases. The state gains by having a more docile and ignorant population of workers. In no way does the education establishment encourage students to learn anything about freedom and liberty, instead they learn to idolize democracy, believing that to be the equivalent of freedom.

The Purpose of Liberal Education

The Classical Liberal Arts were once the education of the elite from modern times to the the free men of ancient Greece. The ancient Romans and Greeks had education for the Free and training for slaves and servants. Most of what goes for education is training to serve. It is not to make students free. It is to make them good workers and good followers. Liberal Education’s purpose is to make you free, certainly not to make you a good or even highly paid serf. Today, however, few receive this education and those who do are notoriously underpaid. They may have free minds. They may have more flexibility in what they can do, but they do not have the skills to do specialized jobs with the better pay.

The Purpose of Training

Specialized or technical education leads to better pay but also leads students to actual serfdom or slavery. The only question is on what level of serfdom would the student attain? Would they be well paid and respected serfs or underpaid and despised serfs.

It may be obvious that a worker on a manufacturing line could be a slave to a system, but many may be surprised to think of a doctor, lawyer or engineer as a serf, better paid, but a serf nevertheless. Many are so in debt and can do nothing else but what they were trained for and have no choice but to remain in careers they hate.

A highly paid doctor could be just as trapped as a coal miner in Appalachia, or an office worker in a drab cubicle. Debt and training have brought them to dead ends where they feel there is no escape. Whatever the income, they are not free. Their education or training did not lead them to freedom but to slavery.

However, in most cases both forms of education do not lead to freedom. Graduates are trapped by debt and training that prevents them from later seeing new possibilities and options.

While I do believe that the a liberal education is important if not vital, because it stretches the mind, develops reason and imagination, and most importantly teaches students how to learn, I also believe that learning a skill to gain financial independence and the leisure for continued self development is the other key to reaching true freedom.

We are going through major economic, political, and social changes. Relying on the government is not only foolish, it is dangerous to your freedom and future. It is imperative that you begin to find ways to take control of your financial life, learn to think for yourself, and to actually live a life worth living.

Recommended Books:

If You Want To Be Rich And Happy Don’t Go To School by Robert Kiyosaki

The Sovereign Individual by James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg

Education – Basic Necessity For All!

No Education, No Life! Just like food, water and air, education has become a basic necessity for everyone to survive in today’s world. Education is a broad concept that refers to all the experiences in which students can learn something to develop and establish them in the society. Education could be formal and informal. Formal education consists of a systematic standard of instruction, teaching and training. This format is derived from many different disciplines of life, i.e., psychology, philosophy, biology, linguistics, sociology, etc. While informal education consists of the general etiquette, decorum, rules and codes of conduct in the society.

Informal education is what you get mostly and largely from your progenitors. Your initial lessons starts from home where you get to learn how to sit, stand, behave and speak in the society with elders, mates, friends and others. When you start learning certain decorum then comes the time to go for formal education which helps in refining your persona further with more useful and powerful knowledge. This formal education helps you achieve your ultimate goal in the society of being a successful man or a satisfied person (depending on your own aspirations). It also helps you be a better human being and a person with refined wisdom.

In contemporary scenario, no child should be without education, as it is almost impossible to survive without it. Now all the nations and states have made it mandatory to provide primary/ elementary education to all kids, unbiased of their caste, creed, race, status and nationality. Special kids who have some difficulty in reading and writing, like other normal kids, also have an absolute access to any normal school for learning things the way others do with a little more care and concern. Various special schools are also available for their better and hassle free growth.

Students, who wish to pursue higher studies from well reputed institutes, are provided with scholarships to help them reach their target in life. Several governments affiliated and private graduate colleges and vocational institutes are also available to their rescue.