The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, T.D., has published the “National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development, 2014-2020”, Ireland’s first such strategy.
Education for sustainable development fosters and strengthens the capacity of individuals to make judgements and choices in favour of sustainable development.
The Strategy aims to ensure that learners are equipped with the relevant knowledge, and the key dispositions, skills and values to motivate and empower them to become informed citizens acting for a more sustainable future.
Eight ‘priority action areas’ have been identified. They include leadership and coordination, data collection and baseline measurement, and promoting participation by young people in decisions that affect them.
Each of the eight priority areas has a series of recommendations. These recommendations encompass all areas of the education system, from pre-school through to further and higher education, as well as non-formal and community education, and the Youth sector.
The ESD plan promotes greater participation by children and young people in decisions that affect them within the education sector, principally through student councils. This is in keeping with the Minister’s drive to ensure the voice of students is included in education. The establishment of more student councils at primary level will be encouraged, and the existing student council model at post primary level will be reviewed.
Welcoming the Strategy, Minister Quinn highlighted the importance of the Department of Education and Skills promoting sustainability in its own practice, “As an architect, I am delighted that the Department has won awards for sustainable design in our school building projects.
“This National ESD Strategy commits the Department to continue to build infrastructure that is cutting edge in terms of sustainability, as well as seeking to reduce its own energy usage and that of other institutions within the education sector.”
“I would like to extend my appreciation to those who generously contributed their time and expertise. In implementing the ESD Strategy, the Department will be seeking to work closely with you in this important area.”
An ESD Advisory Group is to be established, representing stakeholders, and chaired by a DES official, for exchanging best practice, building partnerships and mobilising stakeholders.
The publication of the National Strategy for ESD fulfils Ireland’s commitments under the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. It is also one of the commitments in Our Sustainable Future, the National Strategy on Sustainable Development, which was published by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in 2012.
Eight priority action areas:
1. Leadership and coordination
2. Data collection and baseline measurement
3. Curriculum at pre-school, primary and post-primary
4. Professional development
5. Further education and training
6. Higher education and research
7. Promoting participation by young people
8. Sustainability in action
The report is available at http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/National-Strategy-on-Education-for-Sustainable-Development-in-Ireland-2014-2020.pdf