Sustainability Starts with Teachers programme kicks off in Malawi
Malawi launched the Sustainability Starts with Teachers (SST) programme with a two-day workshop on 23 and 24 March 2021. Held in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, the virtual workshop was attended by 55 Teacher educators, Technical Vocational Education, and Training (TVET) educators from all corners of the country, senior government officials and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) experts.
This workshop kick-started the implementation of the programme in Malawi. Participants were able to develop a shared understanding of the context for ESD in the country, initiate the implementation of the SST programme, sharing its vision, objectives and expected impact as well as discussing the implementation processes of the programme.
In his opening remarks, Director of Technical Services in the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Dr. Godfrey Kafere highlighted that ESD is recognized and integrated in a number of national frameworks including the National Development Plan Vision 2030, Malawi’s Vision 2063, National Education Sector Investment Plan (2020-2030) and the TEVT strategic plan (2018-2023).
Despite the enabling policy framework, government through various speakers acknowledged systemic weaknesses in teaching sustainability issues in school and teacher education institutions. The main constraining factors raised include the general lack of understanding of ESD, which leads to a lack of political will, and supporting structure within institutions. Participants also pointed at poor implementation plans, resistance to transform to ESD-compliant pedagogies and an exam-oriented system that appears to promote rote learning as other constraints to ESD integration in the education system.
The gaps and opportunities presented during the workshop inspired participants in developing their own institutions’ “Change Projects”. These are institutional change initiatives in Teacher Education and TVET institutions supported by the SST programme.
Malawi will be joined by, Tanzania and Eswatini in the Regional Training Course on ESD starting in September 2021. Traditionally, the course is held at Rhodes University but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it will be online. The course will give participants an opportunity to present and further develop their ESD Change Projects.