Sustainability Starts with Teachers 2021 Course: Off to a good start with record numbers!
A record 300 participants have registered for the online 2021 Sustainability Starts with Teachers (SST) Course, as the initiative moves a gear up in southern Africa.
The course focusses on teacher educators and educators working in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions, and aims to support them via an action-learning programme to bring about education for sustainable development (ESD) changes in their institutions and programmes.
In this third year, the SST programme is working with teacher and TVET educators from Eswatini, Tanzania and Malawi. In the second year (2020), the programme worked with teacher and TVET educators from Zambia, Lesotho and South Africa while in the first year (2019) participating countries were Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Officially opening the 2021 Course, UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen said the third regional course was an important milestone of the SST programme.
Prof. Gijzen reported that 166 teacher and TVET educators from 77 institutions were engaged in producing ESD transformative projects in their institutions. He mentioned that the model of the project is explicitly ‘change oriented’ and that all institutions work on change projects with communities of practice, thus extending the reach of the programme beyond immediate course participants.
The Regional Director said the SST programme had become an integral element of the global ESD for 2030 initiative and called development of a more ambitious ESD programme.
Joining him, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice Chancellor at Rhodes University inspired participants with his comprehensive engagement with the programme’s objectives.
VC’s Mabizela’s ethical and holistic commitment to the next generation’s well-being through education was visible in his words.
He warned that we could not build a sustainable society if social ills persist. For this reason, he said there is need for strong and holistic partnerships such as the partnership between UNESCO, Rhodes University, SIDA and regional governments, which is visible in the SST initiative.
Representing the Ministry of Education and Training in Eswatini, Phumzile Hlophe, noted said the Ministry has high regard for ESD. She stated that the SST course is important in equipping educators with ESD knowledge and skills, and that this will be “useful in addressing challenges and complementing the existing educational space”.
Dr Kafere, Director of Technical Services in Malawi said the course links well with SADC objectives. He made an important statement about teacher education, and teaching saying teaching is one profession that creates all other professions.
Speaking from Tanzania, Dr L. Mtahabwa, Commissioner of Education in Tanzania noted that the SST course is “very timely in our context”. He said that Tanzania was re-thinking the concept of teachers when it comes to sustainability matters where parents and community members are also teachers”. In doing this, he raised the important perspective that learning for sustainability is a shared concern and hence the Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme encourages development of Change Projects in communities of practice.
Michelle Bouchard, Programme Manager from the Swedish International Development Agency attended the opening ceremony and complimented the programme for the achievements made despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sustainability Starts with Teachers Course will be completed online over the next few months; participants will be developing their institutional change projects, and will be meeting in cluster groups. They will also join webinar series that will be on offer over a four-week period.
This year the Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme will feature the Alumni of the programme, and will link up with the African Regional Centres of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development.
Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), the ‘Sustainability Starts with Teachers’ (SST) is a regional capacity-building programme for Teacher Educators on ESD. It seeks to strengthen ESD in teacher education institutions for teacher educators from Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), primary, secondary, and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
The SST programme addresses in particular the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which is oriented towards the achievement of educational quality within a lifelong learning framework, and focuses specifically on Target 4.7, which requires all governments to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development. It is active in 11 countries and the 2021 focus countries are Tanzania, Eswatini and Malawi.