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More About the Sustainability Starts with Teachers Programme

Sustainability Starts with Teachers is a UNESCO-led capacity-building programme for teacher educators on Education for Sustainable Development in Southern Africa.

Teacher educators from Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Primary and Secondary Education, and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) from 11 countries are involved.

Through Teacher Education Change Projects, teacher educators and student teachers learn valuable lessons which contribute to policy engagement and change, addressing global, regional and national sustainability challenges.

The Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme supports teacher educators to prepare future teachers for teaching sustainability across the curriculum, using a whole-school approach which involves the entire school community and facilities in sustainability practices.

The Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme is innovative as it builds on and strengthens existing regional network of alumni that were previously supported by Sida with professional learning programmes on Education for Sustainable Development. First preference for inclusion in the programme is therefore given by Sustainability Starts with Teachers and UNESCO to those who have been involved in previous Education for Sustainable Development work in their institutions.

National orientation workshops are organised by the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) in partnership with country stakeholders in participating countries to set up the applications process.



Together with national, regional and international partners, UNESCO carries out activities under this programme to achieve the following expected results:

  • Sustainability principles integrated into education and training environments, with emphasis on curriculum change in Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institution programmes.
  • ESD capacity of teacher and TVET institutions enhanced via an Advanced ESD Regional Training Programme the Sustainability Starts with Teachers Course.
  • ESD reinforced in national and international education and sustainable development policies, with emphasis on policies influencing the education of teachers and TVET educators for Goal 4 of the SDGs (Target 4.7).
  • ESD Professional Networks strengthened in southern Africa.
  • Science education and uptake of science-related careers enhanced through ESD integration and engagement.

Policy Dialogue

UNESCO is working with education and sustainable development government partners to ensure that the Education for Sustainable Development is integrated at policy and practice level.

UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa activities are aligned with national and regional aims for inclusive sustainable development. Policy dialogues to advance Education for Sustainable Development in teacher education will be held annually.

The purpose is to engage policy actors and educational leaders in capacity-building programme activities in countries as a way of advocating for Education for Sustainable Development integration into policies and leadership activities in teacher/TVET education.

The programme will co-develop monitoring and evaluation tools and evidence to inform policy from the capacity building processes and policy dialogues.

The monitoring and evaluation tools and evidence from this programme will feed into national and regional reporting on SDG 4, Target 4.7, emphasizing the importance of strengthening teacher education for wider achievement of this target.

Country Reference
Group Members

Each country has a national reference group member who will work closely with the Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme to advise course participants and support the Change Projects in the countries. The national reference group members are experienced Education for Sustainable Development teacher educators with experience of supporting the Change Project approach.

Namibia: Dr Sirkka Tshiningayamwe, University of Namibia, Namibia

Botswana: Dr Nthalevi Silo, University of Botswana, Botswana

Zimbabwe: Ms Iris Chimbodza, Belvedere Teachers College, Zimbabwe

South Africa: Dr Zintle Songqwaru, Rhodes University, South Africa

Zambia: Professor Overson Shumba, Copperbelt University, Zambia

Lesotho: Ms Makamohelo Nyabela, Lesotho College of Education, Lesotho

Country representatives for the other countries will be appointed as the programme rolls out in those countries.

Teacher Education - Sustainability Starts with Teachers
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