The aim of the curriculum, especially in ESD, is not only to organise and deliver content, it also concerns the development of attitudes and values, such as respect for human rights, ecological integrity, and equity. Acquiring such values must be nurtured throughout the schooling and education and training system.
It is thus important for teacher/TVET educators to focus on values and to develop the potentials of students. To be able to do this effectively, teacher/TVET educators must be able to fully articulate and explain the place of values in the curriculum.
The International Earth Charter movement offers some very helpful ethics principles that can be considered when we are responding to sustainability challenges in education and curriculum innovations.
The Earth Charter offers 16 ethical principles that were developed via a world-wide social movement consultative process including the late Wangari Maathai which are organised around four key themes:
1) Respect and care for the community of life
2) Ecological integrity
3) Social and economic justice
4) Democracy, non-violence and peace.
Visit the website of the late Wangari Maathai’s organisation, known worldwide as the ‘Green Belt Movement’. When you are going through this website, and reading up about her work, consider the values above. Which of these values did she support in this initiative. You can also encourage your students to join movements such as this, and you can find interesting teaching materials and more on the website. How could you integrate work such as that done by Wangari Maathai into the TVET curriculum or teacher education programmes that you run?
Can you identify similar initiatives in your country (see some of the video’s below) that also demonstrate ethics-led transformations of society that reflect the principles of sustainability and the Earth Charter ethics? However, there is need to consider this critically because sometimes things are not quite what they are said to be.
Think about the implications of these responses for ESD in Teacher Education and TVET, and how you might find good examples of responses to share with your students. It is especially important to identify alternatives that they can be part of, and contribute to so that they can experience ethics-led learning and actions.