Regional ESD Policy Dialogue kicks off

Botswana’s Minister of Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr. Douglas Letsholathebe officially opened the Southern Africa regional policy dialogue on education for sustainable development (ESD) on 11 May 2021. 

Organised in the context of the Swedish-funded Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme, the Policy Dialogue brought together policy makers and ESD experts to discuss the integration of ESD into policies and leadership activities in teacher education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET). 

Speaking from Botswana, Minister Letsholathebe said building teacher educators’ capacities on ESD was the “first and foremost step towards an effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs”.

The prioritization of teacher capacity building on ESD is a clear indication that we understand and appreciate the role that teachers play in the promotion and implementation of strategies towards the achievement of SDGs through ESD and that indeed, ‘Sustainability Starts with Teachers’.
Dr. Douglas Letsholathebe

He urged educators and policy makers at the meeting to commit to being the change agents needed by effectively playing a leading role as champions of ESD in their respective countries. He encouraged them to promote ESD not only as a subject but also as a whole-school approach, which forms an integral part of the school culture. 

The Minister said ESD should be mainstreamed into education policies and programmes, with particular emphasis on the curriculum for Teacher Training Institutions and Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges. He further encouraged participants to advocate for the establishment and strengthening of ESD professional networks in the Southern African region.

Addressing the same meeting, UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen said ESD is at the heart of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs.

ESD is not only a crucial element of Target 7 of SDG 4 on Education, but a binding element running through all the 17 SDGs.
Prof. Hubert Gijzen

Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Zambia Her Excellency Åsa Pehrson said Sweden remains committed to supporting ESD and capacity building initiatives for teachers in the region. 

ESD aims to develop skills that empower individuals to question and reflect on their own actions, to examine their current and future social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts, from a local and a global perspective. Through ESD, learners are able to gain critical life skills and the capacity to be active in the pursuit of sustainable development.

UNESCO and its partners have long lasting experiences on capacity building of teachers on ESD in the SADC region. Since 2019, 11 countries in the SADC region are being supported under the programme, Sustainability Starts with Teachers. 

The Policy Dialogue which ends on 12 May 2021 is expected to showcase the good work emerging from  the  Sustainability Starts with Teachers  programme. About 150 delegates from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are taking part in the policy dialogue.