Education for Sustainable Development: Knowledge and environment in South African schooling
The United Nations’ launch of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in 2005 has focused international attention on the concept of education for sustainable development (ESD). This paper covers the emergence of ESD in relation to environmental education in South Africa. It critiques the core concept, sustainable development, and identifies a trend in ESD to de-value a knowledge base, particularly in relation to the natural environment. A sociology of knowledge perspective is used in conjunction with the writer’s own experiences in environmental education. A critical/social realist approach is proposed as a way past the impasse of traditional education versus the progressivism of ESD. A disciplinary knowledge base is seen as foundational in teacher education and schooling in order to develop environmentally literate and responsible citizens. Strategies to achieve this include the introduction of a few selected environmental issues across the curriculum, making use of selected teachers rather than all teachers, and including core environmental literacy courses in teacher education.
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