Education for sustainability: A Historical Background

Lindunda Muyunda

Lindunda Muyunda

By Lindunda Muyunda

Education for sustainability is a relatively new term in global discourse on the role that education can play in bringing about values and attitudes, and behaviours that can lead to sustainable harvest of the ecological fruits that nature has endowed to our planet.

Sustainable development and education for sustainable development (ESD) or education for sustainability (EFS) are informed by four major themes  that arose globally after the second world war (WWII) – peace, freedom, development and environment.

Although the world had entered a relatively peaceful period after 1945, there were just too numerous trouble spots around the world, in the name of the cold war that pitted supporters of each of the major opposing super powers against each other, with the Berlin Wall as a symbolic representations of the Cold War. So peace became an elusive comfort zone, always in sight but never achieved.

With the end of the colonialism, beginning just after 1945,  arose new independent states, mostly in Africa and Asia. The concept of freedom had arrived. And with it, the principles of good governance and, human, children and women, minority and indigenous people’s rights.

Independence also brought with it the need to improve the wellbeing of  the “new free citizens of the world”. Rhetoric about economic development to improve people’s welfare echoed and reechoed around the corridors of power, and with it the concepts of equality and equity.

Lastly, as climate change took its toll in the droughts of the mid 1970s and 1980s, the fourth dimension of environment was brought to the attention of the world.

Our consumption levels and development activities were depleting ecological resources at a much fast rate than nature could replenish them.  Beginning as local or regional phenomena, environmental concerns soon gained international currency, warranting global action to maintain the ecological status quo, and to ensure we continue harvesting ecological products right into the future.

In the next article, we shall discuss the rise of the terms related to sustainability and education for sustainable development.

Muyunda Lindunda
IT Teacher
Konkola Primary Trust School