Education for Sustainable Futures: ESD in the Western Balkans

Education for Sustainable Futures: ESD in the Western Balkans

Source of funding

Rockefeller Brothers Fund with co-financing from EuropeAid and the Kosovan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology

Name of client/donor

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Topic area

Capacity Building for SDG Implementation; Education for Sustainable Development

Overall project value

EUR 1,200,000

Date

December 2012 – May 2017

Beneficiary countries

Kosovo* | Montenegro | Serbia

Number of staff

20

On December 20, 2002, Resolution 57/254 on the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) (2005–2014) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (57th Session). To facilitate the implementation of this strategy in the UNECE region, the UNECE Decade on ESD (2004–2014) Strategy was proposed. The strategy was structured according to six pillars: 1) Research on educational curricula; 2) Adaptation, alteration and revision of curricula based on the research; 3) Capacity building for teachers; 4) The development of didactic tools; 5) Networking through formal and non-formal ESD networks; and 6) The promotion of ESD. All of the many projects launched to implement this strategy followed a piecemeal approach, focusing on only one or two pillars of the strategy. The REC project team concluded that such an approach was not sufficiently comprehensive to bring about institutional change, and that the only way this could be achieved would be to work on the implementation of all six pillars of the strategy. Financing and political support for the programme were therefore obtained.

 

The overall objective of the programme is to make a direct contribution to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, providing capacity building for the universal framework programme “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in September 2015. It also seeks to contribute to the UNESCO Global Action Plan on ESD, adopted in 2013, emphasising Priority Action Area 1: “Advancing policy: Mainstream ESD into both education and sustainable development policies, to create an enabling environment for ESD and to bring about systemic change.” The six pillars of the UNECE Strategy on ESD (2004–2014) were used as the framework for the comprehensive implementation of ESD at regional level.

The main emphasis of the programme is on the integration of sustainable development concepts and ideas into the broader educational reforms currently under way in the Western Balkans. This objective is critical, as the target countries are seeking to harmonise their educational legislation with the outcome-based learning approach being adopted by many European countries. The European Community is increasingly recognising the importance of outcome-based learning, which has been supported primarily in the field of higher education as part of the Bologna Process. Outcome-based education implies that when programmes are planned, desirable learning outcomes are identified and considered in the formulation of those plans. Course content, learning activities and assessment are designed to be consistent with the achievement of the desired learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are developed, and then operationalised through the development of curricula. In order to achieve sustainable development, students must change their social behaviour, hence the utility of the outcome-based learning approach in sustainable development. The programme seeks to fundamentally change students’ behaviour through the development and operationalisation of curricula, capacity building for teachers, and the development of didactic materials to help meet the needs of teachers and students. Today’s environmental problems require not only new modes of thinking, but also new modes of interaction with the environment. The programme makes a direct contribution to this goal.

Activities are clustered into six categories, following the six pillars of the UNECE Strategy on ESD (2004–2014):

  1. Evaluation of current educational standards, programmes and methodologies applied in the field of ESD.
  2. Development, amendment and upgrading of curricula based on research results.
  3. Development, upgrading and promotion of didactic materials such as Green Pack and Green Pack Junior to meet the newly adopted educational curricula.
  4. Organisation of training programmes for school teachers and educators in order to promote ESD.
  5. International expert exchanges on national ESD work and activities.
  6. Promotion of ESD at national and international level.

 

Evaluation of ESD in national legislation and curricula

In each of the target countries a comprehensive analysis of existing educational curricula was carried out and concrete recommendations were made on changing, amending and adapting the curricula based on the results of the research.

 

Upgrading, amending and adapting curricula based on research results
 

  • In Montenegro, inter-subject topics on sustainable development were identified for pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, as well as general education subjects in vocational education, and officially approved.
  • In Serbia, 599 learning outcomes directly or indirectly related to sustainable development were identified for each subject field in the new Serbian framework curricula for primary and secondary education; 252 learning outcomes directly or indirectly related to sustainable development were identified for 18 high-school subjects and general education subjects at vocational schools; and 347 learning outcomes directly or indirectly related to sustainable development were developed for 16 subjects at primary schools. The Institute for the Advancement of Education, school teachers and REC experts were directly engaged in the development and approval of the learning outcomes.
  • In Serbia, sustainable development requirements were developed and adopted for the Rulebook on the Advancement of Professional Expertise and School Performance in Serbia for primary and secondary education.
  • In Kosovo*, learning outcomes related to sustainable development were formulated for Core Curriculum I and Core Curriculum II.
  • In Kosovo*, inter-subject topics related to sustainable development were formulated for Core Curriculum II.
  • In Kosovo*, an explanatory paragraph on sustainable development was included within the framework curricula.

 

Development, upgrading and promotion of new and existing educational products
 

  • Development of Green Pack Junior in Montenegro and Serbia.
  • Upgrading of Green Pack to align with educational standards in Kosovo*, Serbia and Montenegro.
  • Development of “How to Use the Green Pack” tool for Serbian curricula.
  • Development of an inter-subject topic guidebook for teachers in primary and secondary schools in Montenegro.
  • Development of a manual on ESD for Kosovo*.
  • Development of an online module on sustainable development for Serbia.
  • Development of a best practices handbook for teachers on the implementation of sustainable development learning outcomes in the curricula.
  • Development of an online version of Green Pack Serbia.
  • Development of an online version of Green Pack Junior Montenegro.

 

Organisation of training programmes for school teachers and educators to promote ESD

In Serbia

  • Learning outcomes were piloted in 41 practice schools and 122 pilot schools for over 10,000 teachers, and an online module on sustainable development was created.
  • 50 Green Pack and Green Pack Junior trainings were held.
  • Two trainings on cross-thematic planning were held using sustainable development themes.

In Kosovo*

  • 40 Green Pack and Green Pack Junior trainings were held.
  • 15 courses on sustainable development and its connection with the new Kosovan curriculum framework were delivered.
  • 10 trainings on inter-subject topics and learning outcomes related to sustainable development are planned.

In Montenegro

  • 30 Green Pack and Green Pack Junior trainings were held.
  • 1 training programme for high school principals on the newly developed inter-subject topics will be developed and two trainings held.
  • 1 training programme on the newly developed inter-subject topics for primary school principals will be developed and five trainings held.
  • 5 trainings for pre-primary school teachers on inter-subject topics related to sustainable development will be held.
  • 5 trainings for primary school teachers on inter-subject topics related to sustainable development will be held.
  • 5 trainings for secondary school teachers on inter-subject topics related to sustainable development will be held.
  • 5 trainings for vocational school teachers on inter-subject topics related to sustainable development will be held.

 

International expert exchange on national ESD work and activities

High-level experts had an opportunity to exchange experiences on the state of ESD in their respective countries at a meeting held in November 2015 in Montenegro.

 

Promotion of ESD
 

  • A national television series was developed on the Green Pack in Montenegro.
  • A launch event for Green Pack Junior was held in Montenegro.
  • A Committee on ESD in Kosovo* was established with the participation of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Health, the Association of Kosovan Municipalities, the Regional Environmental Center, and the Ministry of the Environment.
  • A promotional event was held in Kosovo*, at which high-level experts from the ministries involved presented the results of educational reforms through ESD.
  • An ambassadorial briefing will be held in Serbia regarding REC collaboration with the Ministry of Education to reform educational curricula in line with sustainable development concepts and ideas.

 

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

  • Capacity building
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Institution building

Project Publications