The strategy of Education for sustainable development in the region of Baikal: experience and perspectives
After the Worldwide Summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg in 2002 UNESCO has initiated the program for ten years of education for sustainable development (ESD). This issue has become the subject of my scientific research for a long period of time, and the ideas have started to implement in practice of educational establishments of the Republic of Buryatia.
The Strategy of sustainable development was worked out for our region after the analysis of national and international educational conditions, experience of educational institutions work, on the basis of cooperation among scientists and experts, politicians and managers.
The results of ten years activity
Scientific ideas of sustainable development for the Baikal region were developed in the doctor's degree dissertation and further publications of the author and my disciples. Five dissertations of candidates of pedagogics analyze different aspects of education for sustainable development: didactic basics of a national and regional component of ecological education, the usage of telecommunication projects in the system of ecological education, problems of intercultural and ecological education in various multicultural environments, ecological education at different stages, including preschool education. The concept of ecological education in social and natural environment was developed by the author of the article at the beginning of the 2000s, it has been supported by many schools and has been described in publications (1, 2, 3).
Education for sustainable development is widely used at many schools and it has introduced a number of positive changes in their activity. Among those it is possible to note the practice-focused character of ecological activity, "coordination" of nature protection work and actual environmental problems of a settlement or district, involvement of children and adults in joint activity, development students’ practical skills.
The ideas of Local Order-21 were involved into the work of secondary educational institutions in different settlements: settlement Onokhoy, in villages Kizhinga, Khuramsha, Barguzin, etc. On the basis of high schools of local community the ideas of social partnership, realization of intersubject communications, development and implementation of social and ecological projects are fulfilled. The root of education in pilot schools is combination of theoretical and practical training in the development and realization of programs of education for sustainable development in local communities. The distinct feature of school models is the orientation on ethnic traditions of people living on the coast of Baikal, special culture and ecological basis of Buddhist philosophy.
Interactive methods and trainings were approved, information technologies were used in the process, including international projects, for example, «Water for the sake of life » (2004-2006), «Practice-oriented ecological education and the Internet». Practical actions were carried out to solve social problems of local settlements, for example, in the village of Barguzin students with their teacher Matkhonova S.P. have solved a long-term problem with the river Bannaya. They have strengthened the riverbed which used to break its banks and cause floods in the streets of the settlement every spring.
The scientific school of the author has issued scientific and educational publications devoted to this problem. One of the last editions is the methodical set «Baikal treasure schest» which was approved by the Board of the Ministry of Education and science of the Republic of Buryatia of general and supplementary education. The book is an integrated course for pupils of primary and secondary school. The project is supported by the Program of development of the United Nations and the company Coca-cola. The book will be presented at the conference.
Interaction between public ecological organizations and educational institutions has been established: Baikal information centre "Gran" and the Buryat state university have developed and carried out international projects, and signed a contract for four years with German colleagues – public “Union of ecology and ecological education” and the University of Osnabruck. The innovative program «Intercultural ecological education» (co-authored with G.Becker) is fulfilled and the project «Biological and cultural variety of regions: Buryatia - Niedersachsen» has been carried out for eight years, it has received the award «Official project of the United Nations in education for sustainable development (BNE) 2005-2014» three times.
The optional course for bachelors of pedagogical education «Education for sustainable development» was developed and introduced into the curriculum. What competence should a teacher possess in carrying out the ideas of education for sustainable development at school? We develop such general competences according to Federal State Educational Standard: the ability to use knowledge in modern natural-science mapping of the world in educational and professional activities, to develop welfare programs for various categories of population, including usage of information technologies. We support such special competences as readiness for tolerant perception of social and cultural distinctions, regardful and careful attitude to natural and cultural heritage, readiness to join interaction with social partners in realization of welfare projects.
We consider communicative competences to be important in practical activities of a teacher: skills to avoid conflicts, and to work in a team, abilities to plan and organize the process. The success is defined by availability of knowledge, system thinking, and emotional responsiveness, system of ethics and values, and readiness to act.
- Education for sustainable development in our region as well as all across Russia remains to be work of enthusiasts, and it has occasional character, it depends on ideological inspirers on behalf of scientists, and understanding of this educational field importance by chiefs at different levels: republican, regional and school levels. Education for sustainable development reminds a tree – a fur-tree: the subject is evergreen, today it is decorated by beautiful calls and proper words, correct objectives, models and technologies; separate enthusiasts conduct an optimistic New Year's round dance, teachers like children are pleased with new ideas, but there is a danger that after a holiday (at the end of UNESCO program) it will be thrown out.
- The majority of scientists and teachers tend to be frightened or worried at the concept «education for sustainable development». They think this issue is about everything without precise character, thus it is prevented from getting into current curricula and programs. There are no clear or obvious borders of its content, it implies various subjects: energy, health of social justice, climate change, globalization, different approaches are used: complete and interdisciplinary, system approach and others.
In my opinion for the further practical realization of education for sustainable development ideas it is necessary:
- that the best practices of schools and local communities should be announced and the platform for experience exchange should be created throughout the territory of the Russian Federation;
- that we should continue to work on sustainable development ideas to be introduced into public consciousness, politicians and civil servants who take decisions, mass-media and business community; people do not know or do not accept the ideas of stability as a need of today;
- Understanding continuous character of education for sustainable development and considering its weak sides we should concentrate efforts on preschool and primary school (to develop curriculum, grants, etc.) and preparation of future teachers as basic agents of education for sustainable development. The ideas of education for sustainable development have not been scientifically and practically introduced into professional training of future teachers in the aspect of readiness for ideas of education for sustainable development fulfillment at school.
- Considering the commercial character of education and science its hopeless to expect actual results that ideas of education for sustainable development will be implemented into the system of continuous education without such investments as financial, in teachers’ preparation, support of scientific research in the form of grants established by state and specialized ministries. Education for sustainable development remains to be occasional positive experience in separate regions and communities.
- Subjects of education for sustainable development are as various as life. If education for sustainable development is issued as an educational order, which each person will see vital «lifelong education» and «education for sustainable development» will be two sides of the same coin.
- Dagbayeva N.Zh. The school of ecological development: monograph (co-authored). – Ulan-Ude: Buryat state university publishers, 2003.
- Dagbayeva N.Zh. The models of ecological-oriented schools in the educational area of Baikal region: - Ulan-Ude: Buryat state university publishers, 2002
- Dagbayeva N.Zh. The development of school ecological education for local population sustain// Pedagogics.- 2004. - №3.
- Dagbayeva N.Zh. Education for sustainable development; the experience of multicultural interaction.- Ulan-Ude: Buryat state university publishers and Nuso-Verlag (Germany), 2009.
- Dagbayeva N.Zh. Ecological education of students in varied social and natural conditions: - Ulan-Ude: Buryat state university publishers, 2007
- Baikal little treasure chest: study set for primary and secondary school students. Writing team, editor-in-chief Dagbayeva N.Zh. – Moscow, Buryat state university publishers, 2012.