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Teaching and Learning

Sustainability Starts with Teachers Programme

SARUA and its programme partners – UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (SARUA), Rhodes University and SWEDESD, completed the final teacher educator action learning workshop of the Sustainability Starts with Teachers project in Johannesburg, South Africa from 14 to 15 March 2018. While the formal activities of this phase have now been completed, delegates agreed that it is only the start for a process of curriculum innovation and enhanced Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Southern African countries.

The two day workshop programme offered delegates the opportunity to share with their peers and government representatives the change projects that they have initiated at their respective institutions, with their respective communities of practice. Since delegates only participated in one of two previous workshops, held in Zambia and Swaziland, it meant they could also network with teacher educators they have not previously met.

At the two workshops SARUA organised and hosted in 2017, 60 teacher educator delegates from nine SADC countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – were introduced to a five point action learning programme on how ESD can be introduced into curricula.

The delegates were requested to initiate Communities of Practice on ESD in their respective Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) upon their return, who could help them to refine and implement change projects that they had begun to define. Since late 2017, change project coordinators have been submitting project frameworks and documents to a shared online resource. Based on an assessment of the submissions received, a selection of 40 delegates were selected for attending the review workshop. The objectives of the two-day review workshop were to:

Provide an opportunity to the leading TEI change project managers to showcase their projects, their communities of practice and what they have achieved in terms of ESD curriculum innovation;

Provide an opportunity for passionate, but lagging project managers to learn from the experiences of others on how they can address shortcomings and create the necessary momentum for their projects;

Offer a networking opportunity for participants in different workshops, representing all nine participating countries, to discuss other forms of sharing and collaboration;

Plan for future phases or follow-up projects of Sustainability Starts with Teachers with all those involved.

From the presentations and discussions it emerged that some change projects have developed their own momentum, while others have struggled to get off the ground. The workshop became a forum for sharing ideas and giving advice on how ESD change projects could be approached to ensure success.

Some shared critical success factors for change projects that emerged from the workshop included the need for institutional champions to support projects, the importance of functioning communities of practice, the effectiveness of continuous reflection and project monitoring, and the need for innovative ways to address shortages of resources, equipment and learning materials.

It was agreed by all that the process of ESD strengthening should continue and that the change projects already started and made available online should become thriving projects, which can also inspire future teacher educators to address ESD. Delegates agreed that the evaluation framework for their projects would become a new way in which they would see what projects had value.