ESD Should Not End Up as a Buzzword or Slogan

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Representatives of the education sector from 10 SADC countries are meeting in Windhoek to facilitate the implementation of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), which was launched earlier this year. Having prepared a draft strategy for Education for Sustainable Development, to support education in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the next step was to develop and implement action plans and activities at sub-regional and national levels. As SSA recognizes that education is important for building an equitable and caring society, one of its challenges is to turn sustainable development into reality for people’s benefit. With this in mind, participants who are from two of UNESCO’s cluster offices, including Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, are expected to familiarize themselves with the global DESD developments and the contents of the SSA ESD Strategy, recommend supporting programmes made through ESD, draft proposals for supporting interventions of ESD into education systems prepared and also ensure that EDS focal points have the tools to develop National Strategy for ESD and lead partnerships of ESD networks expanded for the implementation of the SSA ESD Strategy. Yesterday, Permanent Secretary for Education, Vitalis Ankama, who opened the workshop on behalf of Minister Nangolo Mbumba, urged all partners in government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to work together to achieve the goal. Mbumba said capacity deficits across states and non-state actors continue to pose obstacles to sustainable development, and Africa should bolster the quality and efficiency of the continent’s human capital, physical infrastructure, climate for business transactions mediated by sound economic policy especially that HIV/AIDS has eroded the capacity in many countries. And, despite efforts by governments and partners and resources deployed in the past few years, capacity gaps still persist, he added. While HIV/AIDS has undermined what could have led to sustainable development, the education sector has not been spared in that teachers are missing and orphans and vulnerable children and infected children are the order of the day in schools, said Simon Nhongo, UN Resident Coordinator. To be in line with the statement of commitment made by education ministers in March 2006, Nhongo said the ESD should not end up as a buzzword or slogan but should turn out to be concrete reality for individuals, organizations and governments. “It is the only way we can bequeath to our children and grandchildren the better world they undoubtedly deserve,” he added. Considering that Africa is not the same anymore, the UN Coordinator said the timing of the DESD could have been better but that Africa should start now to leave a better world for its children through education.