Promoting education, public awareness & training

Promoting education, public awareness & training

What is the role of education in reaching sustainability?

"Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development."
Kofi Annan

"Education, including formal education, public awareness and training should be recognized as a process by which human beings and societies can reach their fullest potential. Education is critical for promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to address environment and development issues. While basic education provides the underpinning for any environmental and development education, the latter needs to be incorporated as an essential part of learning. Both formal and non-formal education is indispensable to changing people's attitudes so that they have the capacity to assess and address their sustainable development concerns. It is also critical for achieving environmental and ethical awareness, values and attitudes, skills and behaviour consistent with sustainable development and for effective public participation in decision-making. To be effective, environment and development education should deal with the dynamics of both the physical/biological and socio-economic environment and human (which may include spiritual) development, should be integrated in all disciplines, and should employ formal and non-formal methods and effective means of communication".

Education, as a lifelong process, is widely accepted as a fundamental prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable development.  It is critical to meeting basic human needs, achieving equity, capacity building, providing access to information, and strengthening science.

In Agenda 21 Education is organized around the three issues of:

  1. reorienting education towards sustainable development;
  2. increasing public awareness; and
  3. promoting training.  

The primary objectives in addressing these issues include:

  • striving for universal access to basic education,
  • reducing adult illiteracy,
  • integrating sustainable development concepts in all education programmes to achieve interdisciplinary learning,
  • promoting broad public awareness, and
  • strengthening vocational and scientific training.

Key questions for this area

If you are studying or teaching in this area, or are looking to add content to your unit, the following are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • What is the role of formal educational institutions?
  • How does informal learning fit into the scope of awareness raising?
  • What has the Australian TAFE sector done to reorient education towards sustainability? What about the university sector? Primary and secondary schooling?
  • What are the challenges in providing access to basic education in all countries?

Useful resources 

If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, check out our resources for inspiration.

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