The United Nations Global Sustainable Development Goals set a new direction for education, and to their great credit governments across Africa have engaged the process. Most African governments now expect their schools to address the Education for Sustainable Development frameworks.
Education for sustainable development (or Environment & Sustainability Education) is about the content people learn, its relevance, how it’s linked to global challenges and how learners develop competences to address these challenges in a sustainable way. However, adapting new theories, knowledge and concepts to local contexts can be an uphill task. Teachers need help to enable them to apply new ideas. PACE is proving particularly relevant. It gives teachers a practical connection to Education for Sustainable Development. PACE content and activities, the practical focus on real life environmental issues, problem solving and sharing solutions can help teachers overcome some of the challenges they face.
During the school holidays our PACE trainers ran a series of workshops for teachers introducing PACE, the approach, content and ways in which it can help them. Our trainers shared their own experiences of how PACE can make school learning more relevant and useful to students at the same time as building conservation values.
The forward looking SIIMA Primary School, in Kampala, Uganda, had their PACE workshop in August.
They learned about the opportunities and value of using practical activities in their lessons, like making a simple hand washing demo, pictured right, made from waste materials, fun to make and use, can be reproduced at home and gives a practical focus for teaching water, sanitation and hygiene to young children. The participants saw how to use films, about people addressing Human Wildlife Conflict for example, to better understand ecosystems and to develop more understanding of how different organisms live together. They learned about using the school grounds for maths lessons – teaching children about trees and different species at the same time as they build numeracy and sorting skills, or how to use data from the school garden to practice making graphs and calculating statistics.
Teachers at SIIMA commented that PACE resources “suit our normal teaching and look very helpful in the way that they present real life teaching and learning,” they said that PACE was already helping them to be more creative and innovative. They each designed lesson plans and a work programme that integrated their new knowledge.
In July a similar workshop at Mbouo-Bandjoun in Cameroon looked at how PACE links into social science teaching, it was described as ‘a solution, a topical teaching resource that fills gaps and opens many opportunities for teachers.’
The workshop participants came from several schools, by the end of the day, after consulting different resources from the PACE pack they each elaborated their own ESD micro-projects. The projects address environmental problems in their schools or communities and will be carried out with their students. They range from recycling paper and composting to making Biochar and using it as a soil improver. Biochar is similar to charcoal but used to add structure and hold nutrients in soil. Biochar acts as a carbon store, carbon is held in the soil rather than being released into the atmosphere. An excellent method for improving agricultural productivity and addressing climate change.
The workshop groups will reconvene in October.
We look forward to learning about how they get on and seeing feedback from students and colleagues.