China National Working Committee for UNESCO Project on Education for Sustainable Development (CNWCESD)
  • Date submitted: 7 Sep 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: China National Working Committee for UNESCO Project on Education for Sustainable Development (CNWCESD)
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Suggestions on Further Promoting ESD in International Society after UN-DESD
----Taking ESD Experience, Challenges and Future Commissions in Ten Countries in Asian-Pacific Region as Examples

In recent decade, in older to deal with severe challenges human beings? society is facing and to fulfill the commitments made by each government, the international society has paid great attentions on educational functions for sustainable development since the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. Taking implementing the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) (hereinafter for short DESD) as an opportunity, educators in the global society carry out theoretical researches and practice on ESD, and produce abundant and fruitful achievements.
Nowadays, there are still challenges, and commitments made in the World Summit in Johannesburg still are not completely fulfilled. To further fulfill the educational function for promoting sustainable development though ESD, it?s extremely necessary to summarize experience on ESD in all countries comprehensively before the World Summit on ESD in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, and to make clear deployments on further promoting ESD after UN-DESD.
Based on the experience obtained by ten countries in Asian-Pacific Region, the review report is made to exhibit the actual situations and to provide suggestions.

1 The Experiences on ESD from Ten Countries in the Asian-Pacific Region
1.1 The first effective driving force to promote ESD is to construct authoritative and professional national organizations.
In the Asia and Pacific region, some countries have already established the national organizations and agents. For example, the Korean National Commission for UNESCO established the Korean National Committee for ESD in 2009; the Ministry of Education in Laos established the National Working Group on ESD; the national working committee on ESD under UNESCO is the main steering organization for ESD in Japan; the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Education are two main steering organizations for ESD in Indonesia; China National Commission for UNESCO established the China National Working Committee for UNESCO Project on Education for Sustainable Development (hereinafter for short CNWCESD) which has taken charge for implementing ESD nationwide since 2002. According to the experience in Korea, Laos, Bangladesh, Japan, Indonesia and China, such institutions shall be formed by officials from ministries of education and UNESCO national commissions so as to guarantee the high authority of ESD. Meanwhile, experts on education, environment, culture and other fields should be invited into these organizations in order to make professional and strong plans and guidance.

1.2 The dominant factors to direct and inspire principles and teachers actively to participate in the innovational practice on ESD are to put forward the overall theory and connotations of ESD in light of each country?s actual conditions.
In East Asia, ROK, Japan and China are taking the lead in carrying out theoretical researches on ESD. ROK established several research institutes to promote the development of ESD. In 2005, Tongyoung, Incheon and Ulju three cities established three Regional Institutes on ESD, and organized several seminars with the themes of Green and Creative Human Resources, Curriculum Innovation and Teaching-Learning Process, Educational Competitiveness, the Human being and the Biosphere, etc. Japanese government valued highly theoretical research on ESD, and the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, Science and Technology developed on the Guidelines for the Development of National ESD Indicators in Asian-Pacific. The theoretical researches by CNWCESD in China were represented mainly by the Basic Course in Education for Sustainable Development and several papers nearly 800 million words from 2003 to 2010, and these researches centered on two-level connotations of ESD, teaching model of ESD, cultivation of sustainable learning capacity, the significance of writing ESD in the National Outline, creation of high quality education in ESD, quality education creation though ESD and the indicators for sustainable schools.

1.3 To organize educational experts to implement research and practice of ESD persistently can promote the shift from the research to public policy and incorporate ESD into the national and local outlines.
To incorporate ESD into national development outlines has been a common agreement among countries in Asian-Pacific region. ROK government released its National Vision for Sustainable Development and the National Strategy for Sustainable Development. Besides, ROK legislative body approved the Basic Law on Sustainable Development, the Environmental Education Promotion Act and the Framework Act on Green Growth. The National Socio-Economic Development Plan 2006-2010 (NSEDP) and National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy (NGPES) Lao government issued were two dominant policies for promoting ESD. Based on the Agenda 21, Malaysia released the National Policy on Biodiversity and the National Integrity Plan with focus on building the awareness and capacity for the educatees to respect nature, and preserve environment. In the recent, the 9th Malaysia Plan issued by the government also emphasized the important role of non-governmental organizations (NGO) in ESD and called for further spread ESD to promote environmental awareness and knowledge. The Nepal government launched the Nat-Com Participation Program to promote ESD. The program aims to provide fund for selected schools to implement micro programs on ESD. The Japanese enacted a series of acts to provide legitimate protection for the promotion of ESD. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UN Climate Change Conference these international conventions are the main legitimate guidance in Indonesia. In early 2010, the State Council of China issued the ?National Outline for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020)? (for short ?National Outline for Education?). The ?National Outline for Education? lays considerable attention on ?focusing on ESD? in its strategic subject and requires education institutes at all levels to implement ESD, and incorporates ESD contents into all courses. It marks that ESD has been shifted from a single research topic and education program to a national public educational policy.

1.4 The main tool to strengthen the capacity of construction of ESD is to organize the training for principles and teachers at national, local and school levels regularly or irregularly.
Most country in Asian-Pacific region has already strengthened the training for principles and teachers. Korea National Commission for UNESCO and Seoul Office of Education established ESD teachers training program for primary and secondary educators, with the aim to train teachers and researchers to implement ESD research. Laos Ministry of Education organized trainings for principals, teachers, researchers and officials. In China, under the leadership of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, CNWCESD and Beijing Academy of Educational Sciences have organized 10 national seminars. More than 10,000 principals and teachers from member schools, experimental schools and model schools attended these seminars. At the same time, 100 thematic trainings were organized, and tens of thousands of principals and teachers received the trainings.

1.5 The critical part of implementing ESD in primary and secondary schools is to incorporate the knowledge, capacity and lifestyle on social, economic, environmental, cultural sustainable development into the curricula.
Under the guidance of the idea of ESD, most countries in Asian-Pacific region started to reform their curricula, and incorporated the ESD scientific knowledge, learning capacity and value into the curricula. In regard of curricula development, Laos Ministry of Educational attaches great importance to the use of ESD ideas in curricula reform. In the process of curricula evaluation, ESD is also an important aspect. In Malaysia, in terms of curricula development, ESD is mainly embodied in environmental education, Education for All. Curricula development is an important aspect in Bangladesh?s ESD, which absorbed various elements of ESD into basic education curricula including Human Rights, Gender Equality, Health, HIV/AIDS Prevention, Good Governance, Population Education, Cultural Diversity, Natural Resources, Climate Change, Rural Development, Sustainable Urbanization, Disaster Crisis Management, Poverty Reduction, Corporate Social Responsibility, society, culture, environment and economy. ESD curricula development in Nepal has its own characteristics. Teachers, policy makers, students, parents, business, communities are all participants in the process of curricula development. In terms of content, core concepts like environmental protection, pollution control, and sustainability of society, economy and culture are all integrated into the curricula. ESD curricula reform in Tango centered on the value education, and incorporated the cultural diversity, learning capacity and self-identity into curricula. The idea of ESD has already been put into pre-school education, primary education, secondary education, higher education and informal education all educational sectors. Under the leadership of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and Ministry of Education, CNWCESD directed schools at all level to form the national curricula, local curricula and school-based curricula 3-level curricula system. The curricula system reflects the basic idea of ESD. At the same time of curricula construction, China also attaches great importance to reform the teaching methods in primary and secondary schools, and achieve good results.

1.6 The effective methods to implement the ESD practice and spread successful experience are to construct ESD experimental schools and districts and to organize workshops on exchanging ESD experience.
Japan, China and Indonesia are the three leading countries in constructing ESD experimental schools and districts. The Ministry of Environment in Japan selected 14 regions nationwide to construct ESD communities. Indonesia paid attention on the construction of Environmental Awareness Schools. Meanwhile, China has already constructed member schools, experimental schools and model schools in 3-level school system. The Chinese National Commission for UNESCO had selected 15 regions in 3 provinces, municipal cities and autonomous regions to create ESD experimental districts.

1.7 To carry out evaluation and assessment on educational quality for ESD
Some countries in Asian-Pacific region have already carried out researches and assessments on educational quality for ESD. China has started to work on evaluating and assessing educational quality for ESD since 2004. CNWCESD had developed and made the educational quality evaluation and assessment criteria for ESD which include five first-level basic indicators on school management, curricula and teaching, teachers? training, energy-saving and emission-reducing campuses construction, students? quality, ten second-level criteria and twenty third-level items. CNWCESD had organized and implemented the national evaluations and assessments on ESD experimental schools for three times since 2008 in accordance with the criteria.

1.8 To create active circumstance for youngsters to receive ESD, it?s necessary to cooperate with stakeholders to explore social resources and establish school-society cooperation networks in the process of implementing ESD.
In ROK, government, local administrator, research groups, and schools formed the social ESD network. The Korea Research Institute of Vocational Educational Training (KRIVET), the Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science & Creativity (KOFAC), the Korea Institute of Curricula and Evaluation (KICE), the Korea Arts & Culture Education Service (KACES), and the Korea National Park (KNP), and National Museum of Korea (NMK) actively participated in ESD. In Laos, Enterprises, communities, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and regional organizations have become active forces in advancing ESD. In China, ESD member schools, experimental schools and model schools carry out thematic activities by exploring social resources, and establish ESD activity bases. At the same time, some ESD experimental schools established friendly relationship with schools abroad.

2. The challenges for Ten Countries in the Asian-Pacific Region in implementing ESD
With the difference on political systems, economic development patterns, cultural traditions and teaching models, countries in Asia Pacific region start to implement ESD at different time. Therefore, there are differences among countries. Meanwhile, different countries are facing different challenges and problems.

2.1 Although some countries have already organized the national ESD organizations, they hardly issued the national policies on ESD. Thus, some countries are implementing ESD by experts and professional organizations, and hardly spreading ESD nationally.
China, Japan and the South Korea have enacted the national policies on ESD. However, other countries just carry out ESD practice by few experts and professional organizations. Therefore, it shows an unbalanced situation in implementing ESD among countries in Asian-Pacific region.

2.2 Some countries in Asia Pacific regions established organizations with certain authorities, but these organizations are under the leadership of few experts, and can not create influential effects. Besides, the ministry of environment, resources management departments, and communities also participate in ESD, but they seldom put ESD into formal educational system.
Some ESD implemented by communities, vocational educational institutes, and NGOs are for the adults. Without inviting educational experts, this kind of ESD can not provide the educational suggestions for routine teachings, and hardly be incorporated into the formal educational system. Thus, the correct ESD should center on students in primary, secondary and higher education, and should cultivate them with knowledge, capacity, value and lifestyle the sustainable development needs.

2.3 Few countries do not carry out ESD theoretical research, especially do not incorporate universal ideas in DESD into each country?s practice. Thus, it?s necessary to promote all countries to carry out local researches, and to give operational guidance to schools at all levels.
There?s a misunderstanding on ESD. Many experts and officials even professional experts think that ESD equals to environment education and has no connect with routine teaching. Therefore, those experts and officials would not like to spend time on carrying out theoretical researches on ESD, and they do not want to direct young researchers and scholars to implement ESD.
Without systematic theoretical researches, some countries replace ESD with Education for International Understanding or Education for all simply and indiscriminately. Even on some international conferences, these countries make the national reports on Education for International Understanding or Education for All, rather then on ESD, which would not urge teachers and students to accept the idea of ESD, and can not incorporate ESD into formal educational systems in these countries. In order to achieve the high quality educational results, it?s necessary to carry professional researches on ESD in the process of implementing DESD.

2.4 A lot of countries in Asian-Pacific region enacted regulations and acts mainly on curricula reform and ignored to create integral and systematic ESD school-running mechanisms which include curricula constructions, teaching reforms, teachers? trainings and constructions of ESD schools.
Some countries in Asia ?Pacific region issued the policies on ESD, but most of contents are about guiding principles, working deployments and requirements, and seldom about curricula construction, teaching reforms, trainings for teachers and school-constructions these integral and systematic guidance. These policies documents cannot direct teachers and principles to study, research and obtain the scientific connotations on ESD seriously, and cannot encourage them to promote practice on ESD consciously and persistently.
To achieve the expected results of DESD in 2014, it?s urgent to change this situation. To create quality education though ESD can be fully achieved by reforming teaching, curricula and training in accordance with DESD.

2.5 Some countries fail to implement training for principles and teachers with plan and arrangement.
It?s difficult for some countries to implement ESD training for principles and teachers when they fail to publish ESD theoretical teaching materials and fail to invite professional ESD experts as instructors.

2.6 It?s usual to replace ESD with environment education in informal educational system.
In some countries, some organizations and agents implement environment education with this single theme, and fail to obey the recommendations by DESD to implement integral and systematic ESD with Four-Respect core ideas. Obviously, ESD can not equal to environment education merely.

2.7 Indicators and quality evaluation on ESD fall behind the practice.
A lot of countries in Asia and Pacific region do not make the quality criteria for evaluating ESD in formal and informal education, and they are waiting UNESCO to publish the evaluation criteria and assessment requirements. Without the criteria and requirements, the development of ESD in Asian-Pacific region would be effected. It?s quite pity that some countries have been waiting for criteria and assessment requirements for one or two years.

2.8 Most countries failed to launch international exchanging and cooperative activities on ESD.
In recent decade, the Asia-Pacific Offices for UNESCO and the Beijing Office for UNESCO had organized ESD training workshops, seminars, and experience exchanging conferences for many times, which effectively promoted the international co-operations and exchanging activities among countries in this region. Under the guidance of the two offices, and under the leadership of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, CNWCESD had successfully upheld the biennial Beijing International Forum on ESD for four times since the year of 2003, which promoted the international cooperative and exchanging activities in Asian-Pacific region. However, the international co-operations and exchanges among countries in the region are not widely organized, which will restrict the further promotion of ESD in these countries.

3. Eight Suggestions on Further Promoting ESD in Global Society in Post UN-DESD
The DESD will be completed in the year of 2014. At that time, every country will make its own final national report on ESD. It?s proved by the theories and practice in 10 countries in Asian-Pacific region that ESD is and will be an integral and systematic theory and teaching model with time sprit. The ending of DESD will not mean that the value and influence of ESD also will disappear. After 2014, a number of countries, experts, government officials, principles and teachers will continue to implement ESD. Besides, social, economic, environmental and cultural sustainable development in each country needs ESD much more persistently and deeply, because ESD can provide intellectual and human resources support for each country.
Facing these challenges and problems, it?s extremely necessary for UN to organize ESD experts and educators to deploy the commissions and to make the researches after UN-DESD in the future four years. Also, it?s the indispensible obligation for UN to further promote all government to take actions to implement ESD. In a conclusion, the suggestions are:

3.1 To carry out overall theoretical research on ESD
The correct theoretical knowledge is the precondition to further and persistently implement ESD. ESD is an advanced educational theory with time sprit. Among the Education for all, Inclusive Education, ESD and Education for International Understanding advocated by UN, ESD is the only education concept relating to educational function, policies, educational goals, values, educational contents, teaching methods, educational resources? exploration and development, and stakeholders. Thus, ESD is an integral theoretical system and connotation system to educational reform and development in new century with the aims of promoting the economic, social, environmental and cultural sustainable development.
After years of consideration and practice, CNWCESD made the definition for ESD as follow: ESD is created in the process of sustainable development with the aim of cultivating the educatees with scientific knowledge, values, learning capacity and lifestyle in order to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural sustainable development. To certain level, ESD is a refreshing element for the traditional educational theoretical system. The research on ESD theory would meet the needs of implementing DESD, and promoting the development and innovation of ESD in each country in the future. Therefore, Asian-Pacific countries should organize educational experts and officials to carry out ESD theoretical research much more comprehensively and deeply.
Given the real condition of Asian-Pacific countries, it?s necessary to make the researches on the following aspects: the basic connotation of ESD, value education of ESD, ESD promotes the sustainable development of human hen society, sustainable teaching and learning, ESD and EFA, ESD and Inclusive Education, ESA and EIU.

3.2 To setup the clear direction of promoting quality education though ESD
It?s obvious that ESD is an important method to refresh and innovate the traditional educational theories. To carry out theoretical researches on ESD is to meet the need of further implementing DESD, and to promote all countries to create ESD theories and practice deeply and comprehensively in the future years. In some countries, to promote Quality Education though ESD is gradually regarded as an important content in the field of educational reforms and innovations. Based on this, it?s necessary for all governments to organize ESD experts to set the clear direction for ESD, which will shift the core contents of ESD from thematic education, like environment protection, climate change education, to comprehensively Quality Education.

3.3 To speed up the pace of establishing the national ESD organizations.
In Asian-Pacific region, three are three types of organizations established in countries. The first type is national commissions for UNESCO to implement ESD. The second is organizations established by diplomatic ministries. The third type is organizations which are established by the national commissions for UNESCO and ministries of education together. It?s proved that the third type organizations are the best ones to carry out ESD practice in formal and informal education systems comprehensively.
Therefore, the suggestion is that it?s urgent to promote countries to establish the third type national ESD organizations.

3.4 To continue to carry out systematic and thematic trainings for principles and teachers.
ESD is a new education idea and teaching model, thus there?re no existed theories and operational models in traditional training materials. In order to help teachers and principles to implement ESD, it?s necessary to carry out systematic and thematic training for them.
According to the experience obtained by some countries, each country needs to organize the national training on ESD theory. The local educational ministries and research institutes are necessary to implement thematic training and share successful experience. The models of training include national seminars, exhibiting teaching classes, local seminars and experience-sharing meetings.
Besides, owing to the unbalanced ESD situation, UNESCO offices in each country should organize trainings and exchanging among countries, especially cross-country training among different educators, like officials, researchers, ministers, principles, teachers and stakeholders.

3.5 To promote the reform on teaching models and to construct ESD model schools and districts.
The construction of ESD model schools and districts is beneficial for experts to spread the core connotations of ESD, implement the teaching models and achieve the successful experience. Nowadays, Japan, China and Indonesia have already established ESD model schools and districts. Thus, it?s advisable for other countries to start to construct their own model schools and districts, which will speed up the development of ESD and spread ESD successful experience to boarder areas.

3.6 To enact the ESD criteria urgently and implement educational assessments regularly
The criteria are the necessary preconditions for monitoring and evaluating ESD situations in each country. It?s urgent for countries in Asian-Pacific region to make ESD criteria. At the same time, each country should make national and local criteria for directing schools? work.
Therefore, the UNESCO offices in each country are necessary to organize ESD experts to cooperate with each other to make the monitoring and evaluation criteria.

3.7 To spread and public the ESD successful experience.
In recent year, there?re more than 20 media to spread ESD successful experience in provinces, cities and countries. These media make millions of word reports to public the ESD experience, which effectively encourage the educators on ESD. The Chinese experience proved that it?s important to spread ESD experience in time.
Therefore, each country should spread its own acquired successful experience in time, which will promote the development of ESD practice and extend its influence.

3.8 To carry out international co-operations and exchanges.
In recent 10 years, UNESCO offices in Bangkok, Beijing and Jakarta made great contributions to promote the international cooperation and exchanges among countries in Asian-Pacific region. What the UNESCO offices in Bangkok, Beijing and Jakarta have done receives highly complement. Countries in Asian-Pacific region can overcome their disadvantages and further perfect ESD though these international exchanges.
Therefore, UNESCO offices in Bangkok, Beijing and Jakarta are supposed to carry out much more international exchanges, and uplift the overall quality of ESD in whole Asian-Pacific region.

The Johannesburg Declaration on Education for Sustainable Development was just published in the year of 2002, and some impassioned, sonorous and powerful words in the declaration are still clear for the public. In the opening ceremony, children from all over the world with their simple and clear words informed us that the future belonged to them. These words inspired each of us to create a beautiful and harmonious world for them through our actions, and poverty, environmental degradation and unsustainable development would not occur in this world, and the dignity of human beings would be respected. ?Children represent our common future. So we must have a strong sense of responsibility to create a new bright and promising world, which is the answer to our children".
All governments are supposed to shoulder important responsibilities, all politicians should take the historical missions and educators all around the world should taking actual actions to construct platform for ESD in order to help children acquire scientific knowledge, learning capacity, value and lifestyle the sustainable development needs.
Recalling the past decade, it?s necessary to summarize and expand the effective and actual ESD actions by all regions and countries. Facing the actual situation and future challenges, it?s urgent to reflect the ESD shortcomings and problems in order to setup the clear direction for ESD to fulfill the new missions and achieve the goals of DESD.
The children around the world, responsible educators for children?s growth and future, parents, politicians and other stakeholders are all looking forward to the new international summit on sustainable development held in 2012 sincerely and ardently.
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