Ministry of Education, Guyana

Tuesday, 01 November 2016 15:39

Education For Sustainable Development

Article Index:

6.0 Pillar 2: Integrate ESD into the Education System

The successful integration of ESD in the formal, non-formal and informal education systems is a central pillar that relies heavily on the institutional capacities built in the leading agencies.

6.1 Whole school/Institution approaches

The whole-school approach requires active and participatory learning which calls for the entire school - including students, educators and administrators - to be actively engaged in working toward a sustainable school or institution that can sustainably utilise resources available to it with little environmental impact which leads to sustainable societies.

The whole-school approach for ESD is the incorporation of teaching and learning for sustainable development in the formal education sector, not only through aspects of the curriculum, but also through practical sustainable school operations such as integrated governance, stakeholder and community involvement, long-term planning, as well as sustainability monitoring and evaluation and continual improvement. Through community involvement, schools and communities will both benefit from the skills and learning opportunities available within their specific environments. Students are expected to apply what they have learnt and to take home this knowledge to educate their parents and communities. This partnership leads to the development of sustainable societies.

The whole-school approach will allow education for sustainable development to be tackled in a holistic manner rather than in isolation. This asserts that ESD be truly education for sustainable development rather than education about sustainable development.

6.2 Priorities of Application for ESD

6.2.1 Culture
‘Culture is the sum total of the ways in which a society preserves, identifies, organises, sustains and expresses itself.’ There are three important ways to think about culture:

  • Culture as art, ritual, literature and other forms of emotional expression.
  • Culture as meaning-making, including political, religious, ideological and other ideals about development
  • Culture as a key influence on human behaviour and surroundings.

Education for Sustainable Development must be addressed through an understanding of the culture specific to a particular place since culture is the lens through which development issues are viewed. This understanding and inclusion of culture better informs and contextualises sustainable development.

‘Guyana is endowed with a rich and diverse cultural heritage, comprising European, African, Asian and Indigenous traditions, each with its own unique characteristics’ (National Cultural Policy, 2008).

This Policy supports the implementation of the National Cultural Policy (2008) which seeks to promote, protect and preserve the nation’s cultural heritage and enhance its contribution to community empowerment and the national development process. It will, therefore, through education, seek to support the implementation of the following objectives:

  • ‘To promote and strengthen Guyana’s diverse cultural identities;
  • To enhance social cohesion, collaboration and participation of all peoples in the cultural life of the nation;
  • To promote community action on cultural practices that promote and enhance human dignity;
  • To conserve, protect and promote Guyana’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
  • to develop a vibrant cultural industries sector’ (National Cultural Policy,2008)

Culture defines our life. As such, some reflection is necessary to recognise how certain cultural practices affect sustainability, both positively and negatively. This is a delicate issue that must be dealt with tactfully and respectfully. Hence the role of culture in addressing the following priority areas for ESD content must be understood.


6.2.2 National Priority Areas for ESD Content

Guyana’s special features and unique educational needs in relation to sustainable development have led the identification of the following priority areas for ESD. These priority areas for content were identified through several consultations with key stakeholders and the steering committee.

These priority areas align with the United Nations seventeen Sustainable Development Goals as well as the UNESCO Seven Sustainable Development Strategies to provide a good guide for Education for Sustainable Development. The priority areas have been identified for ESD content and linked to the relevant SDGs as shown in Appendix 2.

The Sustainable Development Goals are:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere;
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture;
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages;
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all;
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all;
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation;
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries;
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns;
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development;
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss;
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels;
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Each priority area addresses certain goals. However, overall, they all address goals 1, 4, 5,
10 and 11 to bring about further equity by addressing social issues through ESD.


6.2.2.1 Biodiversity and Biodiversity Management

Most of Guyana is covered by a variety of biologically diverse, intact natural ecosystems upon which people depend in different ways. The importance of and means to achieving sustainable use, protection and management of these ecosystems and their biotic and abiotic components are central to Guyana’s sustainable development and must be known by all.

Particular emphasis must be placed on citizens learning about the various ecosystems and species, their interactions, and the ways in which they benefit humans and other species - both directly and indirectly. Particular focus must be placed on ecosystems and associated species such as mangrove and other forests, wetlands, and savannahs, which either help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and or are susceptible to changes in climate. In the Caribbean Region, the mangrove ecosystem found along the intertidal coastlines is important for coastal protection and is critical to our response to climate change and its potential impacts – especially that of rising sea levels. Guyana’s vulnerability to climate change is predicted to worsen with the greatest impact projected to affect the coastal zone where there is the highest population concentration. The role of mangroves as carbon sinks and their value to the livelihood of coastal communities through fisheries and other resources need to be researched. Strategies for mangrove protection, restoration and sustainable management must be implemented.

Research has to be conducted to determine how the changing climate has affected, is affecting and will affect biodiversity.

6.2.2.2 Agriculture (Food and Nutrition Security)

In 2013, Guyana was among 38 countries which met internationally-established targets in the fight against hunger, chalking up successes ahead of a deadline set for
2015. Guyana has satisfied Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Number One: to halve the proportion of hungry people. Our progress was measured between 1990 to
1992 and 2010 to 2012 against benchmarks established by the international community at the UN General Assembly in 2000. In addition, the country has also met the more stringent World Food Summit (WFS) goal, having reduced by half the absolute number of undernourished people between 1990 to 1992 and 2010 to 2012. In recognition of its achievement, Guyana and the other countries were honoured at a high-level award ceremony at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome in July, 2013. Guyana’s outstanding achievement in meeting these targets has been, in no small measure, due to its commitment to investment in the agriculture sector.

Guyana’s National Strategy for Agriculture (Vision 2020) sets out a plan for the country’s agricultural development based on food and nutrition security, and the development and creation of new industries based on agriculture, such as fuel production, fashion, furniture and craft, all within the context of a green and sustainable sector.

Agriculture plays an important role in Guyana’s economy, contributing almost 25% to our economy while accounting for over 33% of employment and 40% of export earnings (National Agriculture Strategy; 2015 Budget Speech). The future of the sector is, however, extremely vulnerable to the potential impacts of climate change. Guyana’s Second National Communication report has predicted that the potential impact of climate change on Guyana’s agriculture sector will be severe, with a decrease in yields due to increase in temperatures and frequency of flooding or drought in different parts of the country.

Recognising the importance of agriculture to national development and food and nutrition security, Guyana has developed, and is currently implementing, a number of plans and strategies aimed at the enhancement and security of the sector. These programmes (The National Strategy for Agriculture, Agriculture Disaster Risk Management Plan and the Food and Nutrition Security Strategy) have all recognised that capacity building and education are critical to the sustainability of the sector. The Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) as well as National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) conduct training and research in modern agricultural techniques to support good farming practices. These institutions must work with the Ministry of Education to support agricultural science education in schools.

Agriculture is site-specific and its practices must be aligned with present sustainability efforts. Research must, therefore, bridge old and new knowledge in order to improve teaching and learning in sustainable agriculture. It is critical for sustainable agriculture to be integrated in the education system, while ensuring that public and private sector agencies and farmers incorporate education into all aspects of their programmes and agendas.

The implementation of this Policy, in collaboration with the sector-specific policies and strategies, will ensure a practical approach to learning that is relevant to the future of Guyana’s food and nutrition security.


6.2.2.3 Energy

The realities of Guyana’s energy situation must feature prominently in education. This will emphasise the economic and environmental consequences of Guyana’s reliance on fossil fuels as well as the finite nature of such energy sources. ESD will help students to appreciate their individual contribution to the problem and prepare them to aid the national effort to address energy management. Energy conservation practices must be taught and become the norm in the school and classroom. Students must be encouraged to take this knowledge home and practise the same in their communities. Students must be educated about alternative energy opportunities relevant to Guyana and encouraged to undertake projects to develop solutions for their schools and communities. Ideally a school’s energy use could be completely transferred to alternative energy and used as a teaching tool.

All sectors need to embrace alternative environmentally friendly sources of energy to ensure the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goal 7.

SDG Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Therefore, renewable energy must not be given peripheral attention but must occupy the focus of any strategy to move away from non-renewable energy sources. Since many of these developments are taking place in the developed world, links should be made to identify, select, modify and use these technologies in Guyana. This activity must take place at the government and private sector levels. The Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) must play a pivotal role in facilitating this transformation toward sustainable and modern energy for all.

In hinterland communities, the use of solar energy is encouraged. This is a move away from reliance on the fossil-fuel-based national electricity grid. This must be recognised and used in education. GEA must be a part of the broad-based ESD coordinating body that will take the lead in school programmes geared toward building awareness and driving the transition to sustainable energy. Schools and learning institutions must be at the forefront of energy audits which will provide relevant information for decision-making on sustainable energy use.

6.2.2.4 Water

While Guyana does not lack for water resources, a lot of this water is not readily available in a potable form. Considerations must be made for its sustainable use. The warming of the atmosphere has resulted in changes in the global water cycle (IPCC, 2013). The consequent floods and droughts have adversely affected Guyana’s agricultural production. Guyana’s economy is agriculture-based and an integrated water resources management approach must feature prominently in ESD. This will raise sustainable water-management consciousness among students, to incorporate water conservation into their lifestyles, and to develop positive changes in water conservation behaviour. The ESDCB will collaborate with Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) to develop effective educational approaches and materials on integrated water resources management and protection.

In addition schools should begin by reviewing their present water management practices and incorporate rainwater harvesting systems where possible. This section seeks to address the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6:

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all


6.2.2.5 Solid Waste Management

The current global and national patterns of consumption resulting in the generation of significant amounts of solid waste must change. Solid Waste Management (SWM) as advocated by ESD (learning to reduce, reuse and recycle waste) is imperative. Solid waste management in Guyana is a national environmental issue, particularly in urban centres. Lifestyle changes have resulted in increased production of solid waste. The systems of waste management have not kept apace with these changes. Citizens must understand the role that each individual plays in contributing to Guyana’s SWM problem; the effects of improper SWM on economics, health, the environment, and culture; and how each person can contribute to better SWM. School and community programmes that address the reduction of solid waste, its reuse and its proper disposal must be implemented. This approach will support the National Solid Waste Management Strategy, which calls for collaboration among national and regional institutions to facilitate improvements in SWM, and support education that leads to behaviour change management.

Guyana is taking steps to reduce waste, especially non-biodegradable waste, through the recent ban on the importation of Styrofoam boxes for use in the fast-food industry. The private sector will be educated on SWM and encouraged to reduce the amount of waste produced by their operations in a move toward zero waste.

6.2.2.6 Environmental Education

Environmental Education deals with an understanding of the ecological principles that holds natural environments together. The environment is made up of delicately balanced cycles which are interconnected. Understanding the impact of human activities on these cycles is of paramount importance. Natural cycles are affected by human activities and can subsequently have an impact on human life. Environmental Education in this context comprises of an understanding of both the natural urban environments and the relationships between them. It is therefore necessary for the development of consciousness in the way people relate to and utilise the environment in their day-to-day lives as producers and consumers.

Learning about the environment, through the environment for the environment contextualises and effectively delivers environmental education. This approach of using the environment as nature’s first laboratory builds the required consciousness and capacities for a new generation of citizens sensitive to the issues of sustainable development. Environmental Education must be delivered through multi-, trans- and interdisciplinary approaches as it is relevant to all citizens no matter their field of study or work. As such environmental education must not be isolated to the formal education system. The work of NGOs and other institutions is valuable in the delivery of non-formal and informal environmental education.


6.2.2.7 Climate Change Education

The infusion of Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development (CCESD) is critical for all countries. This was the main focus of several of UNESCO’s regional conferences in the Caribbean and Latin America which led to the development of the Tortola Declaration (2011) and the Caribbean Sub-Regional Climate Change Education Plan (2015). Although it is crucial for all countries, each country will have to pay special attention to CCESD according to its own needs. Guyana has made progress in undertaking initiatives to integrate climate change into formal and non- formal education, as indicated in section 2.4.1. These efforts must never stop as climate change deniers still exist even at the decision-making level. Priority actions must build on these earlier initiatives and also take cognisance of the relevant proposed actions outlined in the National CCESD Follow-Up Action Plan (University of Guyana Consulting Team, 2013); Public Education Programme and Implementation Strategy in Guyana’s Second National Communication to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (GoG, 2012); UNESCO’s Tortola Declaration (2011); and the Caribbean Sub-Regional Climate Change Plan (2015).

The aim of CCESD is to create and enhance knowledge, inculcate attitudes and values, develop skills, and modify behaviour in support of ESD more broadly and climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies specifically (University of Guyana Consulting Team, 2013).

The proposed Public Education Programme and Implementation Strategy for climate change identifies the major target groups, the objectives and necessary activities. Two of the major target groups identified have relevance for this Policy, namely: children and youth, and teachers and teacher trainers. The objectives for the two target groups are:

  • Teachers and Teacher trainers
  • To train and retrain teachers and teacher trainers to deliver environmental education lessons which address aspects of climate change at the nursery, primary, secondary, and technical levels
  • Children and Youth
  • To increase knowledge of climate change issues through integration
  • To provide opportunities for local actions (in a local environmental setting) that address climate change
  • To develop in youths skills to discern the causal relationships between lifestyle choices and climate change impacts, and to promote opportunities for critical thinking and problem-solving.

This Policy supports the implementation of these objectives and the National CCESD Follow-Up Action Plan. Importantly, CCESD will highlight ‘personal responsibility’ as a critical component for mitigating climate change; and will identify convergence of climate change and other priority areas, including disaster risk reduction, energy and waste management.


6.2.2.7 Disaster Risk Management

Save the Children, UK states that globally it is estimated that 350 million people,
175 million of which are children, will likely be affected by disasters related to climate change within the next decade. Public awareness and education are key drivers in the successful implementation of policies and therefore there is need for awareness on climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk management and the low carbon initiative within Guyana.

In recent years, Guyana has seen an increase in disasters such as flooding and drought. As a result of the dynamic interplay between high tides and high rainfall, the drainage and irrigation network is compromised. Conservancies, canals, dams and sluices designed to support agriculture and protection of the coastal zone are susceptible to high risk of flooding, while at other times, affected by drought. In the hinterland regions, flooding resulting from high-intensity rainfall cuts off communities for extended periods of time. Droughts have resulted in an increase in savannah fires. These disasters affect both the coastal and hinterland regions, impacting schools and normal operations of other public services. The closure of schools as a result of these disasters negatively affects education delivery and directly impacts sustainable development.

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) Guyana, works in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and other local and international institutions to address these problems. Approaches taken to address disasters risk reduction and management must be included in the teaching and learning process. Guyana is in the process of adapting the UNESCO Sandwatch Programme which aims to build understanding of changes in the coastline. Sandwatch provides a framework for children, youth and adults, with the help of teachers and local communities, to work together to critically evaluate the problems and conflicts facing their beach environment, and to develop sustainable approaches to address these issues. It also helps beaches become more resilient to climate change. Therefore, Sandwatch is a programme that is beneficial for the understanding the effects of rising sea levels and coastal erosion.

6.3 Pedagogical Innovations in Sustainable Development

The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) has highlighted the importance of developing more active and participatory pedagogical approaches within ESD, and the need for research that provides empirical evidence of the impacts and outcomes of such approaches. Effective student-learning is essential for the fostering of better understanding of the world in which we live. Basic scientific literacy is essential to facilitate this understanding which creates opportunities for empowerment toward the achievement of sustainability.


Pedagogical traditions and national cultures have considerable influence on teacher professional practices. In order to ensure effective learning, the teaching process has to incorporate new ideas and strategies to modernise the delivery of education. Therefore, teacher education must become a key driver for change toward education for sustainable development. Focus must be placed on pedagogical innovations in teacher training. This will lead to more active and participatory learning which includes the UNESCO Pillars of Learning for Education for Sustainable Development. Pedagogical innovations will serve as key agents of change in providing the infrastructure that will transform education and society for the creation of a sustainable future. Some pedagogical innovations are under a pilot phase with planned expansion. These innovations are discussed below.


6.3.1 Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE)

The Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) model mentioned in Section 2.4.2 is one pedagogical innovation which adequately meets the needs of ESD. Through its use of the scientific method, IBSE leads learners through a logical train of thought to inquire about and ultimately better understand the interconnected nature of the world around them. IBSE encourages questioning which allows learners to take an integrated approach which brings together learning from other disciplines. It aids the development of an understanding of the relationship between elements within a system which is a building block in learning to appreciate the relationships that

connect systems to each other. For example, the UNESCO Sandwatch programme, with its use of the methodology – Monitoring, Analysing, Sharing and Taking Action (MAST) for beach environments - mirrors the IBSE approach and utilises the environment as nature’s laboratory. Learning about the environment, through the environment is a pedagogical model that reconnects learners with nature.

UNESCO’s Global Micro-science Experiments Programme has incorporated the use of IBSE. The use of small amounts of resources which provides learners with ‘hands on’ experiences in the sciences builds on their understanding of the scientific method. The implementation of this programme allowed many schools to introduce practical lessons in the sciences especially in hinterland communities where water and electricity supply is limited. Several experiments were infused in lessons that were re-oriented to ESD.


6.3.2 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)


The integration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is discussed in section 2.4.2 of this Policy. This integration is seen as a pedagogical innovation which merges several disciplines to foster integration in education. This builds on the application of the Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) which applies the scientific method to integrate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

STEM is utilised in science fair projects. Students identify challenges facing their school or local communities and apply STEM to propose innovative and sustainable solutions. This type of project-based learning encourages team work and the development of critical thinking and research skills. The development of these skills are important to foster the transformation of Guyana towards a knowledge-based society.

The establishment of STEM clubs as “challenge labs” and experimental spaces opens up new pathways for pedagogical approaches that fosters ‘learning by doing’. STEM education for sustainable development will therefore aid in the creation of the future we want.


6.3.3 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education for Sustainable Development

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is an essential and powerful tool in enabling the development of innovations that promote and maintain sustainability. Deliberate attempts must be made to utilise this tool effectively. It is critical to ensure that education relevant to the modern technological world can be delivered. The infusion of ICT into the teaching environment is, therefore, of critical importance. Teachers must effectively use ICT to innovate and solve problems, and

deliver curriculum in new and more effective ways. The success of ICT is largely dependent on how effectively the tool is implemented and used.

Research into ICTs best suited to this purpose must be conducted in order to encourage the development of new methodologies and strategies to aid teachers in the delivery of the curriculum. ICT also allows for global collaboration with other countries where similar issues are being tackled. For example, ICT can help quickly overcome emerging problems such as disaster management.

Pedagogical innovations must take into consideration the needs of the specific context - learning environment, readily available resources and students’ cognitive abilities. Teachers will need to constantly evaluate the learning needs and abilities of their students and use a combination of approaches as required. The formation of a local ESD teachers’ network is recommended as a professional learning community will provide the platform for coherent activities of professional development and shared practices through a high level of collaboration.

6.3.4 Research Component

The nature and context of sustainability constantly evolve with changing international and local factors. As sustainability is site-specific, there must be constant research to ensure that our understanding of it is always relevant in order to effectively practice ESD. This Policy requires a strong research component to be undertaken at the national and university levels. This will serve to inform the understanding and application of ESD. Research into sustainability will be strongly encouraged, and it is recommended that all research require consideration for sustainability where relevant. The new knowledge generated by local and international research must then be translated and distributed across the education system to properly inform teaching. The use of appropriate ICTs is critical in ensuring this activity is carried in a timely manner.


Research must be conducted utilising the data from national assessments, the monitoring and evaluation of programmes and pedagogical innovations to provide information on the areas for improvement. Training programmes for teachers must be designed to address these areas.

6.4 ESD in Formal Education

ESD in formal education is necessary for the re-orientation of education that addresses sustainable development. Teacher education and training are critical for the implementation of ESD in the formal education system. In Guyana, teachers are trained at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) for the formal education system – early childhood, primary and secondary levels. The University of Guyana offers specialised courses in teacher education and training. These two institutions will be required to integrate ESD in their courses to support the national capacity-building efforts.


6.4.1. Teacher Education and Training

For teachers to effectively practise ESD, they must be conscious and sensitive to relevant issues such as climate change, the environment and the contextualised meaning of sustainable development. It therefore follows that the success of education comes from well trained teachers. ESD starts at the teaching-training level, and those who train teachers must see ESD as a priority, supported by updated curriculum and teaching methods. Effective teacher training is at the very core of the re-orientation of education for the achievement of sustainability. Dynamic interaction in the classroom and hands-on approaches should be encouraged to develop students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills which will be required for sustainable development.

In Guyana, teacher training/education is divided as follows:

  1. Pre-service - full-time teacher training/education conducted through the Cyril Potter College of Education and/or the University of Guyana prior to entry into the teaching service
  2. In-service– teacher training for practising teachers conducted through CPCE for teachers on the job
  3. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) - courses and training workshops conducted for practising teachers

For effective integration of ESD, concrete actions must be developed and implemented to enhance and promote inter-disciplinarity in teacher education and training. The development of flexible structures and incentives in Cyril Potter College of Education and the University of Guyana is imperative.

Since supplemental training in ESD offered to teachers in the formal education system alone is not adequate to fully integrate ESD in the education system, the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to introduce a mandatory/core course on ESD for all teacher trainees at the Cyril Potter College of Education and the University of Guyana are highly recommended.

To enhance ESD, teachers must be effectively trained in the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). This will allow them to follow the developments pertinent to sustainability both within local and international contexts (Section 6.3.2). As sustainability factors evolve, teachers familiar with ICT tools will be able to innovate and adapt to new circumstances in order to continue the effective delivery of curriculum.

A change in classroom management is essential. However, the leadership and administration of schools must see sustainability as a crucial part of teaching and learning at all levels, and fully embrace and support these changes.

Outside of the formal methods of teacher training, professional development programmes must take place in schools to sensitise current teachers and administrators to ESD. These professional development programmes will also serve to bring teachers educated outside of formal teacher training up to par with new ESD teaching methods. A mechanism for this exists in most schools where a head of department is responsible for bringing the teachers of that subject or group of subjects up to par. This may be adapted accordingly. Through interdepartmental collaboration, trained science teachers will be valuable in expressing the various roles science and technology play in sustainability.

There is need for greater integration and cooperation among teacher training institutions, the Ministry of Education and higher education institutions which all play a role in ESD. This integration will produce teachers who are sensitive to the issues of sustainability, and as such, will be better equipped to deliver this to students in their respective areas of specialisation.

6.4.2 Early Childhood Education

Children are competent, active agents in their own right, and education for sustainable development must reflect this. They are affected by, and capable of, engaging with complex environmental and social issues. At this early stage, they must be empowered as agents of change and made to recognise the impact of their behaviours on the environment. Since patterns for life are instilled at the early childhood stage, parents, caregivers and teachers must be competent role models to lay the foundation for lifelong learning.

Guyana is in the process of making early childhood education compulsory. Children start nursery school at the age of 3 years 6 months. It is important to have programmes on ESD that target parents, guardians, caregivers and teachers prior to the compulsory school age. Mass media must play a critical role in children’s education at this stage.

Nursery teachers must, therefore, be adequately trained and must be empathic toward sustainability issues, and must be willing to learn in order to facilitate the following learning goals for early childhood education for sustainable development:

  • Learn good habits for sustainability
  • Encourage tolerance and mutual respect by developing a culture of care, not only for the environment, but also for each other
  • Have positive view of themselves and the purpose of education.

6.4.3 Primary Education

A foundation in science is necessary to develop a good command of the issues of sustainability. An understanding of the scientific method provides this foundation. The scientific method is mirrored in the Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) approach. The use of the IBSE approach fosters the development of critical-thinking skills and cooperative learning. This experience is essential at the primary level since the scientific method is the most natural way of learning. IBSE is also in line with the UNESCO Pillars of Learning for Education for Sustainable Development:

  • Learning to know
  • Learning to do
  • Learning to live together
  • Learning to be
  • Learning to transform oneself and society.

Guyana has adopted the IBSE approach in selected primary schools, and the programme is under expansion based on its successful implementation. This will facilitate the inclusion of ESD at this level. Refer to Appendix 3 – UNESCO Pillars of Learning


6.4.4 Secondary Education

Guyana has recognised that STEM subjects are core subjects to a complete secondary education. Consequently, an attempt is being made to have all students become familiar with the STEM principles (Science and Technology Policy, 2011). The foundation laid at the pre-primary and primary levels will be reinforced and expanded at the secondary level. This will facilitate learning that will equip students with functioning knowledge of the issues relating to sustainable development, including climate change, the environment and social realities. Secondary education will seek to build capacity to develop solutions for these issues in an integrated manner by understanding and applying the social, physical, psychological, cultural and scientific principles involved. The use of STEM to solve problems in schools and communities will be encouraged, along with the application of research and inclusive decision-making. Students will learn to recognise their obligation to the human species and other life forms threatened by unsustainability, and become active agents of change. In keeping with the whole-school approach to ESD, students as well as teachers will engage in and lead ESD practices in their schools and communities. Emphasis will be placed on STEM education for girls since it is well known that women are an underutilised resource and consistently disadvantaged by

misguided traditions. Students should develop an understanding of how today’s
decisions affect the viability of tomorrow’s society.

The aforementioned efforts cannot be implemented without adequately educated and trained teachers in STEM. All teachers must have a basic understanding of STEM to relate to sustainability. Teacher training institutions must implement a flexible and locally relevant curriculum. This curriculum must be revised to reflect currency of development in knowledge pertinent to sustainability. Tertiary-level institutions must facilitate the transition of new knowledge in ESD which reflects the changing issues of sustainability and furnish constant curriculum reform.

6.4.5 Tertiary Education

Tertiary and higher-learning institutions must implement the teaching of Education for Sustainable Development and lead the research, development and application work needed to inform and realise sustainability in Guyana. The issue of sustainability is complex and, therefore, requires that students at the tertiary level learn to apply multi-, trans- and interdisciplinary approaches to solve problems of sustainability. University faculties and schools must establish joint research projects and the results of research must be distributed across the education system in order to influence learning and gain maximum benefit. The results of research should be seen in the context of sustainability and take into consideration sustainable development, climate change and the environment in order to create a culture of sustainability consciousness in all fields. Since all research on sustainability will not be generated in Guyana, tertiary institutions will have the obligation to screen external research findings for relevance and share them across the education system.


6.4.6 Education for Sustainable Development in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

‘Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) are powerful forces that can help people to become active and ecologically responsible citizens, workers and consumers able to address local and global challenges.’ (UNESCO ESD+TVET, 2012, p. 2)

In Guyana, Technical and Vocational Education and Training was restructured to make a direct contribution to the realisation of sustainable economic development and ultimately a better standard of living for all through the implementation of the TVET Policy (2011) and the TVET Strategic Plan (2013). The inclusion of ESD in TVET is, therefore, important as it provides another avenue for the inclusive practice of ESD by producing a citizenry informed in sustainability.

Persons undergoing training in technical specialties must understand their impact on the achievement of sustainability and how they can make positive contributions to achieving national targets, and in their own world of work. The TVET curriculum must reflect this by encouraging environmental mindfulness, as well as, a standard for the production of resilient, sustainable infrastructure and systems with appropriate application of relevant technologies.

The private sector must become aware of sustainability issues which require specific training programmes to be designed and developed for managers and supervisors.


6.7 Quality Assurance

To ensure integration of ESD into the education system, the establishment of a quality assurance system which includes monitoring, evaluation, validation, corrective/preventive action and continual improvement is recommended. This quality assurance system will ensure the following:

  • Independent peer review of ESD teaching materials;
  • Accreditation of teachers and teacher trainers;
  • Accreditation of ESD training programmes;
  • External review of the integration of ESD in the education system.

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