July 29, 2016 | Friday

Education as a Key to Sustainable Development

By Arlinda Beka, Director at Kosovo Education for Sustainable Development

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) has entered the agenda of Kosovo society, though following global trends, quietly and almost without being noticed. In various countries of the world, driven by the declaration of the Decade of ESD 2005-2015 by UNESCO, part of the national agenda has become focused on designing education for sustainable development. Kosovo has also started to include ESD in important policy documents of development and education. This year, two important documents such as the National Strategy for Development and the Strategic Plan for Education in Kosovo 2017-2021, have embraced principles of education for sustainable development.

We, as Kosovo Education for Sustainable Development (KESD), are very happy to have contributed to the promotion of ESD in Kosovo. In five years of our existence, we did not achieve all that we intended – as we have a lot to do. However, we contributed to sustainability becoming part of the vocabulary of politicians not only at election time, not only part of academic writings as evidence that that they are part of modern global trends, and not only as one of the issues preoccupying environmentalists eager to preserve the environment. KESD, together with other organizations and individuals has managed to include ESD in all of the following areas; politics, the academic world, schools, civil society, even encouraging active citizenship through different campaigns, such as to protect the environment. ESD, today is widely recognized as part of the Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 declared by the United Nations.

Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is important, but I, being a professor and lecturer at the University of Pristina, see goal four “Quality Education” of particular importance. Quality education is the key to achieve other goals. In Kosovo, also, the change should come through changes in education. German scholar Gerhard de Haan in his article The BLK ‘21’ programme in Germany: a ‘Gestaltungskompetenz’-based model for education for sustainable development” concludes that any effort towards sustainable development must have education as a starting point. Furthermore, David Orr in his book Earth in Mind suggests his six principles of education related to sustainable development as “Education as environmental education, Education as a way of mastering one’s personhood; Education as a responsible way of carrying for the world, Education as a way of understanding the impact of the knowledge of the people and communities in real life, Education as an exemplary way of teaching, and Education in connection with the real world”. In Kosovo as well, education is the path to sustainable development ranging from the early childhood education up to the university level. Because the development of a country depends on the quality of teachers and education of children we must work toward an active society and a healthy environment that can be a source of vital goods for our children and children of our children. This is the area in which KESD is focused on.