Education for sustainable development

Our education system should create awareness about and trigger conversations around social and environmental awareness

Published - April 22, 2023 11:26 pm IST

Get students involved in conversations about environmental issues.

Get students involved in conversations about environmental issues. | Photo Credit: Freepik

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”

This famous saying reinforces the relevance of participatory approaches for teaching-learning processes. Education is not static but evolves and changes with time. It should be used as a tool that will facilitate sustainable living and also provide opportunities to think critically, innovate and provide solutions towards local challenges that have a global relevance.

The world community’s adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 has set the agenda for 2030. It rests on the principles of the four Ps (Peace, Prosperity, People and Planet) and also advocates global partnerships that will facilitate transformative impacts based on economic, social, and environmental improvement for all sections of society. The coronavirus pandemic also had a massive global impact leading to institutional failures, a slowdown of economic growth and a corresponding surge in environmental and health threats.

Technology in education

Technological advances in education have led to hybrid learning models that present an opportunity for students to skill themselves in digital education. The current blended education balances traditional teaching with digital modes, and will further pave the way for more integrated and technology-led interventions. This transformation will ensure a continuity of education processes and introduce a cloud-based integrated platform, that will bring all stakeholders (parents, teachers, the administration and the student community) together. This will ensure transparency and also allow automation of administrative work, giving teachers more time to focus on students’ learnings.

In the Indian context, technology adoption in schools is aligned with the objectives of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and provides early exposure to youth about new frontiers. For example, learners who are versed in Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques can secure work opportunities in areas related to Science and Social Science specialisations that need technical skills related to data collection, analysis and creating of scenario mapping. Sectors related to real estate, forensics, farming, resource prediction and futuristic planning offer a range of work opportunities to GIS experts.  

Remote sensing is the art and science of acquiring data without being in direct physical contact (by using sensors on aeroplanes or satellites). This is a must for every learner aspiring to acquire a 21st-century education. AI has a range of applications in sectors such as banking, medicine, security, e-commerce and telecommunications. Wildlife scientists bank heavily upon tracking species movement, especially during the reproduction phase and migrations. The Very High Frequency (VHF) radio devices used at first have been replaced by Global Positioning System (GPS) units. Wildlife conservation is also making use of aerial drones, infrared cameras, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, devices that monitor movement in real-time and GPS geolocation. This helps to identify and locate species, making it easier to limit losses due to illegal hunting, and to create a database of their specific activities.

Use the demographic dividend

Today, 65% of India’s population comprises youth below 35 years. While this demographic dividend should translate into more job opportunities, it will be possible only if employability skills are enhanced by transforming our education system into being more practical and industry-oriented. With one out of every six people in the 15-24 age group, it is critical that we work with youth through each opportunity that can trigger conversations around social and environmental awareness and usher in a new paradigm of change.

Our education system should create awareness about sustainability and negate the scepticism around the warnings being issued about the degrading environment. Teaching and learning experiences should be based on local context and avenues for interactions with practitioners for knowledge exchange are a must.

(A monthly column from WWF-India)

The writer is the Director, Technology for Conservation and Coordinator-EIACP (MoEF&CC), WWF India

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