UNESCO and sustainability in classrooms

Sridivya Mukpalkar

We ushered in the seventh billion baby not so long ago, and with these happy tidings, we are reminded of the fact that we, and our children, need to re-look at our lifestyle choices and ensure that the future is as good or better than today. Teaching children sustainability approaches can be exciting and inclusive, as I’m sure this issue of Teacher Plus will compel you to believe. UNESCO has a dedicated website on sustainability education for teachers that extends some of the issues we discuss here, and help us enliven classroom discussions on these vital issues.

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future (TLSF) http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf is part of UNESCO’s program on sustainability. TLSF aims to create a curriculum that instills in students, teachers, trainers, policy makers and educators the responsibility to contribute to a sustainable future. The site answers diverse questions such as why should teachers learn about sustainability, how can they teach about sustainability and vitally, the website elucidates teachers’ role for a sustainable future.

The program is divided into four themes: Curriculum Rationale, Sustainable Development across the Curriculum, Contemporary Issues and Teaching & Learning Strategies; all in multimedia format. The website hosts 27 modules and the duration of the entire program is about 100 hours. Each module explores different aspects of sustainability and through activities, lesson plans and plenty of examples, reinforces the concepts introduced in the module. Various resources including articles, activities, lesson plans, presentations and games are easy to download and print for classroom use (though printing may not be a great idea, ahem).

The site employs a simple layout and language, while the examples and activities are generic and easy to adapt to a teacher’s setting.

The Dissemination & Training Toolbox is another big element of TLSF. The Toolbox provides different ways to train teachers and implement TLSF into a curriculum. There are many resources in the form of presentations, text and other media. The Toolbox also has workshops plans and sample workshops that can be used for trainings.

UNESCO’s TLSF is part of its big plan for a sustainable future, i.e., ‘UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development’, which began in 2005 and will go on till 2014. Teachers are not just a part of this grand plan but key influencers and change makers. The website, I hope, will be a continuation to your discussions and plans fostered by this issue. Happy surfing!

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