Ecological, social and formative justice: Pillars for sustainable and transdisciplinary education in the region

After participating in the Red-EDS2030 meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean, organized by UNESCO, we reflected on the challenges faced by the region to achieve education with a view to sustainable development and greening education. The valorization of local knowledge, ecological awareness about the climate crisis and the risks of natural disasters, as well as the consideration of territorial gaps, were some of the topics addressed.

Government representatives, ministries of education, civil society organizations and researchers from 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were part of the first Regional meeting of the ESD2030 Network. The meeting sought to become an instance to reflect and build a roadmap towards education framed in sustainable development.

Five axes were considered priorities for this meeting: promoting policies; transform learning environments; develop the capacities of teachers and educators; empower youth; and accelerate actions at the local level. During two days, various representatives from the region learned about the particular realities of the participating nations, while sharing common visions, such as the need for three essential conditions for sustainable development in training contexts: social, ecological and educational justice.

Likewise, some of the transversal problems of the territory were reflected on, such as social gaps, precariousness, mental health, insecurity and even issues related to basic needs, such as nutrition. Along these lines, it was emphasized that these deficiencies are linked to each other as symptoms of the socio-ecological crisis that affects the planet.

More resilient and transdisciplinary schools

At the meeting, our Learning Manager, Amparo Irarrázaval, presented the training experiences that take place under the leadership of Fundación Mar Adentro. Among the initiatives he presented, he highlighted the role of the Active Teacher program, which seeks to raise awareness about the value of socioecological education inside and outside the classroom, as well as generate experiences to expand and diversify the role of teachers when teaching. on nature conservation from a transdisciplinary perspective.

In this regard, Irarrázaval pointed out, as a foundation “it is important to recognize ourselves within the framework that we provide non-formal education programs, a perspective that gives us flexibility without losing sight of the school curriculum,” and expressed the importance of care and well-being not only of the students, but of the teachers in their work of comprehensive training. In the same way, he emphasized the foundation’s particular view of the importance of art as “a tool to generate knowledge.”

Along the same lines, our Director of Learning, Manuela Méndez, who was also part of the meeting, highlighted the need to promote the sensitivity training of students and teachers in relation to aesthetics. “We observe the importance of learning by doing, since many times it is not possible to understand without paying attention to the senses and experiences through the body,” he expressed.

After the meeting, both reflected on the central directions to encourage awareness that the socio-ecological crisis is a determining factor of the present and that, therefore, impacts the educational field as part of a social reality that mainly affects countries with high rates of inequality.

 In this sense, they explained, one of the greatest risks is related to natural disasters, since in the current context of climate change the extreme meteorological events that generate them are more frequent, and directly affect the quality of education, since they often They imply the closure of schools for prolonged periods or prevent optimal conditions for teaching-learning processes.

Given this reality, there is a need to strengthen intersectoral work; the access of educational communities to educational material with territorial relevance; skills development, as well as empowerment and climate resilience. At the same time, it becomes crucial to support sustainability and climate change initiatives that have emerged from local educational communities; generate teacher training and more resilient schools that function as potential refuges in the event of disasters.

 In more general terms, they noted, the meeting also contributed to combining criteria to address education with a focus on sustainable development, not only based on the three pillars of environmental, educational and social justice, but also from a transdisciplinary perspective incorporated in the training and management.

Irarrázaval explained that the need was observed to establish “communication between the institutions in line with intersectoral work between the ministries, as well as considering the local knowledge of the territories in the training processes, which is related to incorporating various types of knowledge that “Aim at the co-construction of a possible future, given the urgency of the socio-ecological crisis”

Méndez, meanwhile, assured that although the concept of environmental education, at the beginning, was linked mainly to conservation with a scientific focus , “we have understood that multidimensional components coexist. Only through transdiscipline is it possible to investigate possible futures and, at the same time, the way to put this perspective into practice can be through art as a bridge to connect knowledge.”

Regarding the projections of the meeting, they stated, they will seek to conduct the debate to establish an alliance towards education for sustainable development that considers the quality of training as a basis . Thus, a quality education would not be circumstantial, but would go through and give meaning to the sustainability that it seeks to aim for. In the same vein, this alliance will also be oriented towards learning for climate action, incorporating aspects such as adaptation and resilience in schools and their educational communities.

This meeting was organized by the Regional Office of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago). Among its objectives, it will seek to generate a document that reflects the regional context on ESD in view of the Global Meeting of the ESD Network 2030 to be held in Tokyo, Japan. You can find out more details HERE .