Roundtable Meeting on Education for Sustainable Development with UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan

The UN Information Center, New Delhi organised a Roundtable Meeting on Education on Sustainable Development. The meeting was organised on 14th August, 2019 at the UN House, New Delhi. Various stakeholders in education, skill development and training sectors were invited to share their thoughts on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and to ideate upon ways to integrate ESD into mainstream education. 

Brainwiz partnered with UNIC to organise this meeting.

LIST OF ATTENDEES

Mr. Rajiv ChandranOfficer-in-Charge, UN Information Centre
Dr. Bhaskar ChatterjeeIAS (Retd.), Former Director General & CEO, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs
Dr. Yoko MochizukiSenior Project Officer UNESCO MGIEP
(Late) Mr. Kamal SinghExecutive Director, UN Global Compact Network in India
Dr. Biswajit SahaDirector (Training and Skill Education), CBSE
Mr. Aseem KumarHead, Asia Pacific Resource Centre, UN Global Compact Network in India
Dr. Sanjay DubeyDirector (Administration & Policy Research), NHRC
Dr. Sabeena MathayasConsultant, NSDC
Nabila JamshedPublic Policy Specialist, UN in India
Dr. Neelam GuptaPresident, AROH Foundation
Dr. Swati JhaProject Director, American India Foundation
Mr. Vikram BhatRepresentative, Delhi Government
Mr. PP BhardwajHead Personnel, WAPCOS Limited
Mr. Shivendra SinghEditor, India CSR Network
Ms. Swarnima LuthraPrincipal, ASN Senior Secondary School
Ms. Shuchi BajajRepresentative, Sprigddales School
Tarush JainFounder, Brainwiz
Iqbal AhmedConsultant, AROH Foundation

The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Rajiv Chandran and Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee. Before the meeting, the participants were provided with a brief on what is Education for Sustainable Development and what are the points that the group should look at discussing during the meeting. The meeting started at 10:30 am.

OPENING REMARKS

Mr. Chandran, in his opening remarks threw light upon the importance of a meeting like this one because not it brings all stakeholders at a common platform Mr. Chandran mentioned the partnership UNIC has had with Brainwiz in the past and praised the work of AROH Foundation in the sustainability sector. Both Brainwiz and AROH Foundation were partners with UNIC for this Roundtable Meeting.

Dr. Mochizuki highlighted that there were two major strands in UNESCO’s strategy to advance ESD:

  1. To mainstream SD into education through activities like teacher training
  2. To integrate ESD into SDGs by encouraging countries to promote ESD

WHAT IS EVERYONE DOING IN ESD

Every organisation participating in the Roundtable shared how they are contributing to generating awareness about the SDGs.

  1. ASN School has implemented models of ESD in promoting the SDGs by creating awareness amongst students from kindergarten all the way through to Class 12
  2. Springdales School has set in motion an international dialogue on peace
  3. AROH Foundation is the recipient of an award from GCNI for their district development project that catered to all the 17 SDGs
  4. CBSE organized a conference in Cochin in 2018 on “ How teachers and Principals can share their best practices in ESD ”. SDGs are adequately mapped in the learning outcomes of activity-based learning content prepared by CBSE for schools.
  5. The Delhi government initiated the Happiness Curriculum with Hon’ble Dy CM’s vision to end the 3-Ts (Tokenism, Textbooks, Teacher-led) in education
  6. NHRC is making efforts to promote education for Human Rights via online and offline means.
  7. The American India Foundation (AIF) has undertaken initiatives to translate books on UN into Oriya and Gujarati so that the children understand concepts better.
  8. NSDC is focused more on competency-based education, training, and assessment
  9. UN Global Compact has reached out to almost 1300 schools through partner organizations and led initiatives to encourage participation in efforts trying to create awareness about SDGs.
  10. Brainwiz is using ESD as a platform to enhance the 21st-century skills of NCC Cadets and school students.

NEED FOR ESD

Dr. Neelam Gupta presented her views on mainstreaming ESD for rural populations. She said that a whole-institution approach toward ESD and an interactive learner-driven pedagogy will be the key to achieving the SDGs. Mr. Jain threw light upon how Brainwiz used ESD as a platform to first, highlight the 21st-century skills of leadership, collaboration, empathy, research, and communication of 500 young NCC cadets and further enhance those skills by providing them opportunities to solve problems that their own community faces.

WHERE DOES THE PROBLEM LIE?

Dr. Chatterjee said, “ Child today suffers from information overload and that the curriculum cannot stretch beyond a certain number of hours as students are already burdened with school and homework ”. He added that just didactic communication does not bring SDGs into the students’ DNA. 

Mr. Chandran mentioned that innovation remains a key aspect to achieving the SDGs through ESD. Mr. Kamal Singh confirmed that schools in India lack awareness of the SDGs and it is a major problem. Dr. Mochizuki observed that ESD, as a movement, struggled a bit to secure feasibility due to the absence of concrete partnerships. It is very hard to separate ESD from SDGs but Dr. Mochizuki requested everyone to see ESD as a separate entity with its own stakeholders.

Dr. Dubey said that while NHRC focuses on Gender Equality and Disability, after research and surveys on various schools, data shows that they have not been effectively translated into action which is a matter of dissatisfaction. Dr. Mathayas mentioned that there has been a constant struggle between equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes and that they at NSDC have not been able to establish equality of opportunities so far. Mrs. Swati Jha mentioned that a lot of children are forced out of school due to migration. These children require not only sustainable but also an efficient educational environment.

Dr. Gupta also reiterated that the challenges to mainstream ESD include an absence of teachers and poor infrastructure in rural schools. She recommended changing CBSE syllabus to make it more conducive to ESD. Dr. Saha said, “ There is a huge lacuna in awareness among CBSE-affiliated institutions ”. Out of 22000 CBSE schools, only 4000-5000 schools and just 10% of all teachers might be aware of the SDGs.

LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE

Dr. Chatterjee said that there is a massive financial, physical, mindset challenge is at hand but the only way to confront this challenge is to begin somewhere. Dr. Chatterjee and Mr. Chandran put the meeting into an action mode by asking about what everyone needs to do from hereon. 

Dr. Saha suggested that some sort of mentorship by the UN University can hone students to become world leaders for future sustainable growth. Ms.Mathayas added that the key is to decide how we curate the information available and how do we train people to recognize what is good and bad information.

Mr. Chandran said, “ The UN value underlying the SDGs is of leaving no one behind .” A new attitude, through innovation, must remove the idea of ‘us-them’, the ‘othering’. He requested the participation of the entire scientific community in the process and not just the social science branches. Dr. Mochizuki emphasized on the need to promote ESD as the key enabler of SDGs. Dr. Gupta said policy attention and multi-stakeholder engagements are important in the integration of ESDs into primary and secondary education.

Dr. Saha added that the initial solutions must include how fast can we reach the teachers as children remain in the school system. He suggested the implementation of an online course for teachers on ESD for which CBSE will take responsibility. Mr. Bhatt said, “ It is imperative that children realize it is as much their problem as it is of the rest of the planet ” he said. Ms. Shuchi Bajaj highlighted the need for community-based interactions and from there on building upon SDGs as local alongside being global issues.

Dr. Dubey reminded everyone that it is essential to improve and implement quality, inclusive components of education in these areas. There should be a focus on Right to Education (RTE) and Human Rights Education (HRE) which will make education sustainable. Dr. Mathayas said that there needs to be a mechanism to understand the outcomes of cognitive and socio-emotional learning and assess actions and behavioral skills. Ms. Jha said the creation of an interconnected education system can definitely lead to improvement and enlargement of the influence of ESD.

Mr. Jain suggested policymakers encourage schools and institutions for integrating ESD and organizations like Global Compact, NSDC to then bring out detailed studies on how students who undergo ESD become more employable. He suggested incentivizing the students which will be an incentive for the parents and hence, ESD could become a self-sustaining process. Ms. Nabila Jamshed also emphasized incentivizing ESD for parents. He also suggested that we can also look at non-formal education platforms to promote ESD.

Dr. Chatterjee emphasized that as part of the GAP on ESD, a country as large as India will play a key role in actualizing the SDGs. He emphasized that there is an urgent need to start something somewhere. He goes on to add that it is clear that this initiative needs more than one-fold intervention to which Mr. Chandran agrees.

Mr. Chandran said that there is a need to build on what has been achieved in tiny spots- Happiness Programme in Delhi, initiatives by ASN School and Springdales School and come up with a curriculum by bringing in CBSE into it and see what can be done. He suggested creating a fairly small circle of stakeholders as a target action force to concretize the way forward and after that, a road map would be devised. Mr. Bhardwaj resonated with Dr. Chatterjee’s idea to scale up from zero to one and said that WAPCOS shall undertake the same through practical experiences. Mrs. Swarnima Luthra, referring to ASNs curriculum, mentioned that something similar can be drawn which is workable according to the needs of different states and low cost. She also mentioned that there would be financial constraints but initially the execution can be done through partnership.

Mr. Kamal Singh called ESD a multi-stakeholder project and expressed GCNI’s willingness in devising and participating in the creation of a road map and also bringing in stakeholders from the industry on board. He said ESD starts at home and subsequently goes on to schools, higher education, vocational institutions, and to the working environment and hence suggested the involvement of the civil society and Delhi government with the project. He also emphasized that technology will be a game-changer going forward.

Dr. Chatterjee said that there was a need to work on one small unit which would later be multiplied. This unit was to be rural, fundable, enforceable, accessible, reachable, and affordable and would act as the nucleus of what can be taken in the final model. He also said that that digital steps might come at a secondary stage of the process and that there was a need for a plan that could be set in motion on the same day.

He concluded the meeting by saying that a few organizations in different states are already doing this can be the illustrations and if there is a positive outcome out of their efforts, it can help create a ripple effect. Mr. Chandran then thanked everyone once again, expressing his faith in the attendees of the meeting to come up with workable action plans to promote ESD in mainstream education. The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 pm.

Making an entire
generation Future Ready!

Now in line with the National Education Policy 2020

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