Eswatini became the ninth country to join the Sustainability Starts with Teachers (SST) programme. A virtual workshop held from 4 – 5 May 2021 kick-started the implementation of the programme in the country. Over 55 Teacher Educators, Technical Vocational Education, and Training educators, senior government officials and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) experts attended the event.

Participants developed a common understanding of the context for ESD in the country, shared ideas for the implementation of the SST programme, including its vision, objectives and expected impact.

In his opening remarks, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, Mr Betram Steward expressed confidence that the training programme would equip teacher educators with the necessary skills to work towards sustainable development.

In spite of the enabling policy framework, various speakers acknowledged systemic weaknesses in integrating ESD in the entire education system. The main constraining factors raised include the general lack of understanding of ESD, which leads to a lack of political will, and supporting structures within institutions. Participants also pointed at poor implementation plans, resistance to transform to ESD-compliant pedagogies and an exam-oriented system that appears to promote rote learning as other constraints to ESD integration in the education system.

The gaps and opportunities presented during the workshop inspired participants in developing initial ideas for their own institutions’ “Change Projects”. These are institutional transformative initiatives in Teacher Education and TVET institutions supported by the SST programme.

Eswatini will join Malawi and Tanzania in the Regional Training Course on ESD starting in September 2021. Traditionally, the course takes place at Rhodes University but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s course session will be online. The course will give participants an opportunity to present and further develop ESD Change Projects in their institutions