Archive for November, 2012

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Education 4 Sustainability project: further steps

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After sending introductory letters about our project to a wide range of contacts (that you can find in the Wiki section of the website) and receiving very good feedback (see the map with our partners so far), we are now ready to take things to the next level. We prepared a concrete proposal that will be addressed to Ministries of Education in all our focus countries in order to start a dialogue regarding the main aim of our project: introducing sustainability and sustainable development as a separate subject in public schools.

Below you can find the full text of our proposal. The individual letters for Ministries can also be consulted in the Wiki section.

 

Dear Sir/Madam,

Taking into account the following arguments:

  • Today our planet shows more visible signs of human activity than ever before, which are reflected in various impacts extending from ecosystems to the air, water and soil. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that the climate change we are witnessing is caused by people;
  • For the last twenty years many international events, summits, reports and organizations have repeatedly stated that we have not only the duty, but the opportunity to reduce our growing footprint, by making sustainable choices so that future generations can also thrive;
  • To have the reasonable prospect of preserving this planet for future generations, we need to focus our time, effort and resources on educating people – children and youth in particular – on promoting sustainable development, adopting sustainable lifestyles and planning for a sustainable future;
  • Despite great efforts to introduce Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in schools, through various nationally and internationally adopted strategies and agreements, the progress has been slow. Current school programmes relating to sustainability and sustainable development tend to be fragmented between various disciplines, with few hours dedicated to the principle issues and only available to some grades. Moreover, the pupils’ understanding of these very important themes often depends on the dedication and preparedness of the teachers, who are usually not specialised in this particular area;

Nektarina Non Profit, along with its partners, considers that a change is necessary to give issues like sustainability, sustainable development, environmental protection and responsibility increased coherence and impact in the public schooling. We therefore propose the following recommendations for your consideration:

  • A separate subject addressing all aspects of sustainability / sustainable development (environmental, social and economical), should be introduced in the curricula of public schools, at all grades (kindergarten to high school), with varying complexity appropriate to the age levels;
  • Depending on the number of hours that can be legally spent by pupils for education activities at school, this subject can be first included in the curricula as an elective one and aiming to become compulsory as the educational necessities and the popularity of the subject grows;
  • The operational objectives, curricula and textbooks for the new subject should be established through the regular procedure undertaken for other subjects, including public debate;
  • Training courses for teachers who will be in charge of this subject should be organised in order to assure the quality of the educational process;
  • As it is envisioned that the subject will unify all related existing topics, such as ecology, environmental awareness, environmental protection, etc, it should comprise a fairly extensive practical part, including outdoors activities, hands-on environmental projects and other similar activities.

Expected benefits and results:

  • An education system that keeps up with today’s realities, providing pupils with a clear, unbiased view of how our planet works and how human actions and choices are likely to influence it;
  • An increased engagement of pupils with sustainability issues in a critical and creative manner resulting in greater ‘ownership’ of the issues and a willingness to lead an active, responsible, community-involved life;
  • A decrease in environmental problems in the future due to a more responsible, civilised and informed attitude;
  • A raise in awareness related to sustainability issues in the society as a whole, stemming from the propagation of values and attitudes taught in school to the communities where pupils live;
  • An education system connected to and fully capable of matching European standards and values.

Timeframe:

  • Until 2015: preparation of all relevant documentation, including curricula, textbooks, training courses for teachers, obtaining all necessary authorisations and approvals
  • As of 2015: full introduction of the new subject focused on sustainable development in the curriculum;
  • 2020: first results of the new education system are starting to show.

Should you agree to enter a dialogue with Nektarina Non Profit and its partners, we will be happy to provide more details about our project. Furthermore, we are ready to support any activity aimed at introducing the new subject in the curricula, including participating at meetings and work groups, offering our help and expertise, sustaining public debates, etc.

We look forward to hearing from you and we hope that you share our view that this is a matter of vital importance for future generations and one in which the education profession has a unique and critical role to play. 

With kindest considerations,

Nektarina Non Profit

rethinking education

E4S and the Rethinking Education Strategy

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On November 20th the European Commission (EC) launched a new strategy called Rethinking Education to encourage Member States to take immediate action to ensure that young people develop the skills and competences needed by the labour market and to achieve their targets for growth and jobs. We explored the key points that this new strategy calls for and we noticed that our Education 4 Sustianbility (E4S) project connects in a way or another with five out of the eight stated objectives. Below you can find the ways in which we believe the EC Rethinking Education Strategy may interact with the E4S project (original text from EC in Italics): 
  • There needs to be a much stronger focus on developing transversal skills and basic skills at all levels, especially entrepreneurial and IT skills.
The mentioned transversal skills should include sustainability issues, which should be a common trait in all subjects. Especially in entrepreneurial skills the component of sustainability is imperative.
  • Member States need to improve the recognition of qualifications and skills, including those gained outside of the formal education and training system.
Recognition of skills gained is important, as sustainable development skills can be obtained through several means, including non formal education, practical activities and also by studying in other countries.
  • Technology must be fully exploited, in particular the internet. Schools, universities and vocational and training institutions must increase access to education via open educational resources.
Technology is a great way to learn about sustainable development and the web platform that our project is offering will provide a unique environment to share good practice.
  • These reforms must be supported by well-trained, motivated and entrepreneurial teachers.
Our project supports the special training of teachers in the field of sustainable development for the purpose of acquiring the skills necessary to teach the new subject.
  • A partnership approach is critical. Both public and private funding is necessary to boost innovation and increase cross-fertilisation between academia and business.
As a long-term goal of our project we basically want pupils to get out of school with an understanding of sustainability issues that will allow them to grow sustainable businesses later on. So a partnership between schools and businesses can only help shorten the way and benefit both sides. Source: http://ec.europa.eu/education/news/20121120_en.htm Image source: http://www.scoop.it/t/learning-large
climate_action_sustainable_innovation_forum_logo

Sustainable Innovation Forum 2012

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Climate Action, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will this year host the high-level Sustainable Innovation Forum, 6 December 2012, at the InterContinental Hotel Doha, alongside the UNFCCC COP18 proceedings. The forum will be the premier destination for senior governmental representatives, global business leaders, UN governing bodies & non-governmental organisations. Now in its third year, the Forum will concentrate on solutions, actions, and leadership as well as the challenges and opportunities that exist for increased sustainable development. The Forum will once again feature high-level government and private sector panellists covering three short plenary sessions, followed by an evening of informal networking.
  • Plenary panel I – Public-Private-Partnerships: Creating Effective Alliances for Building Green Economies With special emphasis on emerging markets and nations, this plenary session will bring together government bodies, state companies and the private sector to discuss how to mobilise public-private partnerships (PPPs), highlight best-case examples, and examine how PPPs can both maximize green growth and be scaled globally;
  • Plenary panel II – Sustainable cities: Examining the future for our urban population Urban areas are uniquely positioned to lead the greening of both the Middle Eastern and global economies through improvements in transport, energy, design, construction and utilities. This session will look at the challenges faced in both developed and developing urban landscapes, and the solutions available now;
  • Plenary III – Technology and Innovation: Accelerating the green economy The final panel session will focus on the latest break-through green technologies and innovations that global business and industry are developing and integrating into the green economy, including examining advances in ICTs and communications, manufacturing, energy and fuel, agriculture, water and food security.
We look forward to the outcomes of this forum. We will be following up on it once conclusions are drawn. Source: http://www.cop18qatar.com
EDUvision conference

EDUvision Conference: Education vision & challenge for future generation

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EDUvision 2012, International Expert Science Conference – “Modern approaches to teaching the coming generations” will take place on 6th-7th December 2012 at Tehnološki Park in Ljubljana, Slovenia. At this international science conference there will be presented and led to debate the challenges of modern approaches and methods of teaching and assessment and evaluation skills that enable future generations to increase motivation for learning, encourage creativity of pupils / students, intensify higher proceeds of knowledge and interaction with everyday life and, not ultimately, individual personal growth.  There will also be discussions on how to introduce innovations in teaching that are enabled by new technologies. Investing in human capital is one of the most important cornerstones of sustainable development of human beings as well as human society in general. The public is invited you to attend the international conference as an active participant, lecturer, sponsor and exhibitor. Do not miss the unique opportunity to enhance your knowledge and to gain skills which can be applied to your own professional working field and society in general. The International Science Conference will contain five sections:
  • KNOWLEDGE ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION
  • MODERN APPROACHES AND CHALLENGES
  • EDUCATION ADAPTATION TO NEW TECHNOLOGIES
  • COMMUNICATION AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT (HUMAN RESOURCES)
  • TEACHING ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
More information about the conference you can find on the conference website: http://www.eduvision.si/international-conference.
350px-Jelacic_Square Zagreb

International Conference: Are civil rights and obligations connected to environmental issues in education?

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Dates of the event: November 28th and 29th 2012 Place of the event: Zagreb, Croatia Locations of the event: Day 1 (Nov 28th) – The Palace Hotel, Strossmayer Square 10 Day 2 (Nov 29th) – Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Donje Svetice 38  Language of the event: English The event is organized by the Network of Education Policy Centers (NEPC) This event will gather members of the ENjoinED Initiative and the representatives of other civil society organizations from EU and its neighbourhood countries, international experts on ESD, decision makers from the participating countries, educational experts, researchers and the representatives of the business sector from the Region. The aim of the conference is to encourage further actions in promoting Education for Sustainability through nurturing the already existing partnerships, opening the initiative to new partners, regions and sectors and finding suitable entry points for Education for Sustainability in the formal education systems. The conference is focused on the needs of the transitional societies in terms of Education for sustainability, possibilities for building cross-sectorial partnerships for (E)SD and the possible scenarios for the existing (E)SD initiatives present in the Region. In addition to this, the results of the research on ESD content in the national curricula of the emergent EU countries will be presented. The aim of the conference is to encourage further actions in promoting ESD through nurturing the already existing partnerships, opening the initiative to new partners, regions and sectors and finding suitable entry points for ESD in the formal education systems. The conference serves as the closing event of the two year EC funded project Education for Sustainable Development Partnership Initiative under IPA Civil Society Facility Program carried out by NEPC and its partners in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Kosovo, Georgia, Macedonia, Romania and Slovenia. Source: http://enjoined.edupolicy.net/index.php/hr/vijesti/127-international-conference-are-civil-rights-and-obligations-connected-to-environmental-issues-in-education-.html
doha

A look ahead to COP18 Doha

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Background Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC has been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change. The COP is the “supreme body” of the Convention, its highest decision-making authority. The COP is an association of all the countries that are Parties to the Convention. There are now 195 parties to the convention taking part in climate change negotiations. All parties to the UNFCCC are represented at the COP at which they review the implementation of the convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions to promote the effective implementation of the convention. Successive decisions taken by the COP make up a set of rules for practical and effective implementation of the convention. In 2010, governments agreed that emissions need to be reduced so that global temperature increases are limited to below 2 degrees Celsius. COP18 Doha 2012 The 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC and the 8th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol will take place from Monday, 26 November to Friday, 7 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar. The climate negotiations that will take place in Doha are critically important. As sea level rise, wildfires, and devastating droughts showcase, climate change’s impacts are already being felt across the globe. Meanwhile, extreme weather events — most recently, Huricane Sandy — serve as powerful reminders of what the future will look like if action is not taken. Therefore, negotiators will need to figure out a way to make progress, both to finalize the rules of past decisions and how to come to an international climate agreement by 2015. Points of interest Like the rest of the world, we will also be watching the outcomes of the Conference. In particular, we will pay close attention to two events that are related to our education for sustainability focus:
  • the Launch of UN Alliance on Climate Change Education, Training and Public Awareness, taking place on December 3rd and
  • the Sustainable Innovation Forum, taking place on December 6th, which will concentrate on actions, solutions and leadership as well as the challenges and opportunities that exist for increased sustainable development. The forum will discuss how to greater mobilise public-private-partnerships (PPPs), the challenges of sustainable urbanisation with an ever-increasing population, and the latest advances in technology and innovation.
As the events will unfold we will follow up on the outcomes. In the meantime, fingers crossed for some fruitful negociations in Doha. Sources: http://www.cop18.qa/en-us/aboutcop18cmp8/cop18cmp8.aspx http://unfccc.int/meetings/doha_nov_2012/meeting/6815.php http://insights.wri.org/topic/cop-18-doha http://www.cop18qatar.com/agenda/ Image source: http://www.qatarconvention.com/visitor/events-new/event-information?item=20&backArt=87
36431-awesome-karakoram-landscapes-passu-pakistan

Our focus countries – part 6

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Last, but not least, we end our tour presenting our focus countries this week with the Asia group: Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. A short description of their specific features can be found below, but in the Wiki section you can look for more detailed information covering various aspects. Bangladesh is located in South Asia and it is bordered by India, Burma and the Bay of Bengal. The capital and largest city is Dhaka. If you ever wanted to experience the living reality of the idiom “when it rains, it pours”, Bangladesh is the place to be. During the yearly south-Asian monsoon, almost all the water collected by the Himalayas in Nepal, north/northeast India and Bhutan transits through Bangladesh on its journey to the Bay of Bengal, depositing life-giving minerals to the soil all along the Ganges Delta, the largest one in the world. While most of the country lies at or just above sea level, the flat landscape gives way to low undulating hills in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the hilly regions of Sylhet, some of which climb to 1,000 m above sea level. Visits to this area offer an experience of the true diversity that Bangladesh possesses, both geographically and culturally. In terms of forest cover, Bangladesh’s natural places are sadly few and far between. While the world’s largest mangrove forest at Sundarban remains protected, many of Bangladesh’s other national parks have not fared so well. Thankfully, with increasing stability and economic development, conservation programmes are finally starting to get off the ground. Finally, the region’s last major significant geographical feature is a massive 120 krn-long strip of beach lining tile internal eastern coastline of Bangladesh, said to be the longest natural beach in the world. Starting at Cox’s Bazaar, the white sand stretches all the way down to the Teknaf Peninsula, poking up again briefly at the coral reef island of St Martin’s. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the snow-covered Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards to the tropical rain forests and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. The capital city is New Delhi, while neighbouring countries are Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. India has achieved all-round socio-economic progress during the last 64 years of its Independence. It has become self-sufficient in agricultural production and is now one of the top industrialized countries in the world. India is one of the oldest civilizations with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. The country has metamorphosised into one of the most sought after destinations for travel, much due to the presence of several renowned world heritage sites, and an inherent spiritualistic force, which pulls enthusiastic travellers towards it from all over the world. The country is a pictorial of landscapes, opulent historical sites and royal cities, golden beaches, lofty mountain ranges along the Ghats, lush greenery, tropical rain forests, colourful people, rich cultures and festivities. Nepal lies in the south of Asia and it is bounded on the north by the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China and on the east, south and west by several Indian states. The capital city is Kathmandu. Nepal is a land of extreme contrasts in climate and geography. It has a unique topography ranging from lowlands with sub-tropical jungles to arctic conditions in the Himalayan highlands. Within a mere 150 kilometres the land rises from near sea level in the south to over 8000 meters in the north. This, together with the monsoon rainfall along the south facing slopes, has resulted in compacting virtually all climate zones found on planet Earth. As a result, Nepal has been endowed with a great diversity of life-zones providing a home for a large variety of plants, birds and animals. To many visitors, the Himalayan Kingdom conjures up the images of snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills. Indeed, out of ten world’s tallest mountains, eight stand in Nepal. But the country has much more to offer than just the high breathtaking Himalayas. A small country, Nepal is diverse geographically as well as ethnically with more than 61 ethnic groups and 70 spoken languages. The visitor will find rich cultures and vibrant traditions, exquisite temples and monuments as well as fast flowing rivers and tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, making your trip an unforgettable experience. It is the only Hindu Kingdom in the world. However, all the people from different races and religions live in harmony and there is an ideal blending of Hinduism and Buddhism. Pakistan lies in Asia, strategically placed at the crossroads of Middle East, South and Central Asia. The country borders Iran, India, Afghanistan, China and the Arabian Sea. The capital city is Islamabad. The landscape of Pakistan ranges from lofty mountains in the north, the Karakoram, the Hindukush and the Himalayas, through dissected plateaus to the rich alluvial plains of the Punjab, where the Indus River flows south to the Arabian Sea. Then it follows the desolate barrenness of Balochistan and the hot dry deserts of Sindh blending into miles and miles of golden beaches of Mekran coast. Amidst towering snow-clad peaks with heights varying from 1000 m to over 8000 meter, the valleys of Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu recall Shangri-La. The cultural patterns in this region are as interesting as its topography. The people with typical costumes, folk dances, music and sports like polo and buzkashi provide the traveller an unforgettable experience. Modern Pakistanis are a blend of their Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Indo-Iranian, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, White Hun, Afghan, Arab, Turkic, and Mughal heritage. Waves of invaders and migrants settled down in Pakistan throughout the centuries, influencing the locals and being absorbed among them. Thus the region encompassed by modern-day Pakistan is home to the oldest Asian civilization and one of the oldest in the world, the Indus Valley Civilization.   Sources: http://www.visitbangladesh.gov.bd/en/home/bangladesh-country-profile.html http://india.gov.in www.visitnepal.com http://www.tourism.gov.pk/explore_pakistan.html Image source: http://www.traveljournals.net/pictures/36431.html