We find ourselves in an era marked by complex global challenges intertwined with local social-ecological issues. The challenge facing teacher education today is to prepare future teachers with the socio-ecological knowledge, skills, attitudes and values essential for sustainable living by reorienting current unsustainable ways of thinking and doing. The Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme aimed to strengthen the implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in teacher education institutes and prepare future teachers to teach sustainability across the curriculum, using a whole-school approach that involves the entire school community and facilities in sustainable practices. Teacher educators from 11 southern African countries participated in UNESCO’s Sustainability Starts with Teachers (SST) capacity-building programme that initially kicked off in 2019. A total of 180 Higher Education Institutes from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the project.
This resource book developed for the Education for Sustainability – Change Projects in Southern Africa, shares examples of innovative curriculum transformation in teacher education by foregrounding the critical role of an ESD change project approach. It is an effort to support the transformation of education to tackle the planetary crisis and encourage behaviours founded on social justice. We share some of the change projects completed by the SST course participants. Each course participant identified a matter of concern and chose a situated change project focused on curriculum innovation, change, community engagement, and policy development. The resource book draws on the global framework entitled “Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”(ESD for 2030).
This resource book’s diverse examples are chosen from 143 institutional change projects and highlight innovative and forward-thinking pedagogical approaches designed specifically for educators. The introduction chapter provides the context to the change projects shared in this resource book by describing the SST programme’s background, purpose, mechanisms, processes, activities, actors and their perspective roles, and outcomes. Each Change Project is discussed as a case study and includes an introduction to the project, the identified matter of concern, the change project objectives, the Community of Practices, change project results, lessons learned, and a conclusion with the next steps.
Covering a wide array of topics, the showcased change projects in this resource book span five key matters of concern:
- Access to Education
- Teaching and Learning Approaches and Resources
- Reducing, Recycling, and Reusing Waste
- Community Engagement and Sustainable Development
- Assessment of and as Significant Learning in ESD in Teacher Education
This Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) change project resource book was developed out of the need for a resource that shares innovative curriculum transformation in teacher education by foregrounding the critical role of an ESD change project approach. From our research and change project case study, it is evident that the change project model has proved to be catalytic in mobilising curriculum transformation in participating institutions and advancing ESD in national policies. Implementing transformation through communities of practice around change projects has proved to be an enormously cost-effective capacity development model. It is also evident that ESD change projects have the potential to empower transformation beyond teaching and learning, including economic transformation of institutions, as well as inspiring a sense of self-reliance in individuals and communities of practice.
This resource depicts a vision in which education catalyses sustainable development, societal transformation, and environmental stewardship through collaborative, transformative learning experiences supported by ESD change projects. It’s an uplifting collection that will inspire and support educators, policymakers, and changemakers in their commitments to steering Southern Africa and beyond toward a more sustainable future.