Comprising half of the population, young people under the age of 25 have an important role to play in the present and future state of the planet Earth. Civilization risks destabilization if young people are misdirected towards violence, viciousness and unsustainable consumption.
For the success of Agenda 21 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that highlight the significance of equitable access of education for all, it is important to ensure that favorable steps are taken for measurable and clear post 2015 education goals. Education is not only seen as a development goal in its own right but an important catalyst to reach other development goals. Educating young people from the primary level about sustainable development is also essential to speed up the process. The young people of today are our future. Many children today are oblivious to the role they play in society. Their lives mostly are centered on family, home, school and friends. At this stage they are unaware and might not understand how their actions affect the world around them. From a young age they should be taught the basic values of environmental protection, development and how they can act as agents of change not undermining the role they can play. With the favorable and right information, children will find it fun to go green. Recently the concept of green schools has emerged in many places. The green schools stress the importance of environmental protection focusing on Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It is noteworthy though that it should not be limited to specifically three Rs rather can extend to Respect, Repair, Reflect and Refuse too as has been pointed out by some environmentalists. There has to be a paradigm shift in the accepted models expanding the outreach keeping in mind the differences and focusing on the commonalities which we share as global citizens.
Green schools initiative that has been implemented by some schools around the world that integrates efforts that make schools environment friendly and involve children thinking about issues pertinent for the community in the context of sustainable development. Various programs have been implemented by some schools but still a lot needs to be done when it comes to curriculum development related to education for sustainability at all levels.
During Nektarina’s My Green Planet Competition
Inculcating in young children the importance of planting trees, saving water and electricity etc through fun activities definitely encourages them to develop a world view that is beneficial for future generations. However it is important to bring to consideration the fact that in many places even access to basic education has become a luxury that jeopardizes quality education. Here governments play a vital role to step in and work on reforms that take up the issue of education seriously. According to UNDHR access to basic education is a right of every child. And sadly many young children today have been denied this basic right. In many developing countries the plague of child labor has ruined the life of many children. There are numerous factors that play a role in this and the biggest factor so far is the economics. This vicious cycle traps many people giving them a future we don’t want. The future we want holds the promise of a better tomorrow and no matter how idealistic that might look, it is not impossible. The only action needed is to put the world in a spinning order by taking necessary measures and steps that focus on a greater common good. By understanding the simple concept of going green not pampering the complexities but knowing and acknowledging that it is indeed exciting to go green and it will save us a lot of trouble in the future.
I just want to share a small initiative from here which was taken in Punjab province in Pakistan with the help of Japanese government. Informal education tools were introduced in some public schools focusing on “value education”. Working in the curriculum development team we had to keep in mind the limited resources and in all subjects be it English, Geography or History we did come up with exercises that broadened the outlook of children. Instead of old school methods of writing everything down on black boards it was about taking children out and play. For example tree planting activities not only informed them about the entire process of photosynthesis and components of soil but also made them aware that it is fun to go green. The only reason I share this experience is because sometimes it is not entirely about money. It is about the passion that we all need to ignite in each one of us to contribute positively in whatever small way we can. There is a dire need of conscientious citizens of the world who love the planet and consider it home. It should not be about the fines we pay if we litter or break a signal. That consciousness can save our future generations.
The involvement of children and youth in environment and development is critical to the long term success of Agenda 21. Providing access to education for all citizens will not only help to curtail poverty but will also promote economic growth and pluralism. To engender the core values needed for sustainable societies it is important to integrate sustainability into education for children and young people. Essentially transferring the skills, knowledge and values will enable children to understand diversity in societies, respect for others and natural resources of our planet. Education for Sustainable Development that originates from Agenda 21 helps circular and green economy by bringing together various approaches to education and trainings that equip children and young people with initial knowledge, values, rights and skills to work towards a just and sustainable society. Teaching children about sustainability ensure global citizenship and productivity that let them adapt to climate change and reduce their vulnerabilities to disasters. It prepares them to face the challenges being faced by the world currently and try to come up with creative solutions.
My Green Planet Competition
A sustainable society encompasses the impeccable model where every child in present and future generations have an access to basic health care, food, safe drinking water, education and safe environment to grow, contribute and learn. This ideal society also ensures that it is free from pollution, contamination, violence and dangers of disaster. During the fragile period of childhood a child is vulnerable to stress including conflicts, economic crisis, climate instability and environmental pollution and requires stable surroundings that will help in the emotional, physical and mental development. The neglect of children’s rights has irreparable and detrimental consequences. The prosperity of children acts as a positive development in the way to a sustainable society.
To honor the Millennium Promise that is embedded in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) it is important to accelerate efforts. There is a need for collective responsibility that is not time bound like the promise itself. Post 2015 agenda should center on the rights of children and their well-being. Much needs to be done to meet our responsibility of giving the “MDG generation” a fair opportunity to live a healthy and just life no matter where they come from.
By investing in children we increase the possibility to upsurge collective prosperity, eradicate poverty and move towards equity. Investment in children is a fundamental step to strengthen their productivity as engaged and capable citizens contributing positively to the society and the world at large.
It might sound dogmatic but sustainable development does start with healthy and safe children. Some will definitely agree by arguing that the children of today are the future playing a vital role in shaping a better tomorrow. However in practice the issues related to children and young people often come into the category of “social” issues. It is important to note that issues being faced by children are inseparably linked to guaranteeing economic growth, environmental protection and stable societies. Undermining the role of children would be hazardous to us and the planet we share.
As it has been found in the 2012 report by UNESCO there are 250 million young people including school going children that lack basic literacy. It is promising to note that education has been included as a vital part of the sustainable development framework that is inextricably linked to other development goals but now it is also important to implement education reforms that focus on sustainability starting with early childhood education programs. Sustainable development should be introduced in early childhood education and at other levels. Implementing pedagogy for sustainable development is not common in the field of early childhood education. Many early childhood educators can adopt interesting, appropriate, positive and suitable ways to address the issue of sustainable development which otherwise is seen as a depressing issue that cannot be dumped on young children. However it is important to note that before imparting such a vast concept no matter how interesting and appropriate the approach can be there is a need for a clear understanding at all levels of what is sustainable development. Early childhood education does have a role in constructing a sustainable society. A proper curriculum should be made for children and young people at all levels with the help of educationists, environmentalists and governments keeping in mind the concerns of the developing and developed world.
Many studies have found that the concerns and issues of the developing and developed world vary. In the developing world the basic concern would me child mortality and development during the early years whereas the later might be concerned about curriculum changes to improve the quality of education. The disparities and polar extremes should be kept in mind while dealing with education for sustainable development. It is a challenging task but with a collective effort where all stakeholders contribute positively it is not impossible. It might seem like a long road ahead but each step forward no matter how small the step is can bring us a bit closer to our destination.
Investing in quality education helps to generate immediate and long term benefits across all magnitudes of sustainable development. The development impacts of education do not affect the immediate circle in a positive way but the society as a whole too. Educating children on sustainable development supports action towards climate change. With a better knowledge and understanding children can express a sense of responsibility for the environment as has been seen through some surveys conducted.
Education not only supports action towards climate change but also helps in reducing poverty and supporting child health. There should be a merger of two agendas that are dealt separately including poverty eradication and sustainable development. Both agendas should be tackled simultaneously and both are reinforced by education. Children are not only shapers of the world but also shaped by the world. The core of sustainable development is healthy, safe and enlightened children. Being at the heart of sustainable development children are the foundations of a just and equitable society. When the basic rights and needs of the children especially the most vulnerable and poorest are met a society can thrive. Children are the building blocks of a prosperous society and investing in their education along with other rights yields high and long lasting results.
For the development goals to be truly sustainable and sustained, children rights including the access to basic quality education, equity and MDGs should be fundamental. Ensuring that children have a safe and healthy environment to grow where the risks of social, economic and environmental degradation are minimal is important for the global progress on sustainable development. Recognizing children and young people critical partners for sustainable development being the inheritors of the planet and respecting their voices and participation in needed today. Investing in their education is the foremost step which lets them be critical thinkers not accepting the realities as they are rather coming up with creative solutions, empowering them to be effective problem solvers, advocates and agents for positive change.
It has been shown in the past through experience that young people and children with a better knowledge and understanding of things end up contributing efficiently successfully. To help young children grow into skilled, responsible and capable individuals it is important to have basic education access, their education incorporating the fundamentals of sustainability inclusive of various factors will help us produce effective guardians of the world. The Millennium Development Goals targets should prioritize learning opportunities and education systems that provide quality education including knowledge about the environment and sustainability at large. There is a need of reforms in the current ailing education systems that don’t pay much heed to the significance of sustainable education. Through innovations and potential reforms these existing system can be brought to the cutting edge where the potential of children and young people isn’t undermined.
My Green Planet Competition