Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) and Rhodes University are privileged to host the 2013 International Training Programme (ITP) participants in the course ‘Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education’. The International Training Programme on Education for Sustainable Development is focused on building knowledge and capacity for integrating environment and sustainable development issues into curriculum, teaching and learning, research and community engagement in universities in Africa and Asia. It uses a reflexive model of professional development, which encourages participants to, through encounters with new knowledge and ideas on sustainable development and university education, to conceputalise change oriented practices and curriculum innovations in their contexts, and through this to develop contextualized applications of the course in home country contexts. The ITP responds to the many pressing sustainable development issues on the African continent including enhanced human well-being, management of ecosystems and ecosystem services, climate change, water security, deforestation, poverty and other forms of marginalisation. Participants are supported with conceptual capital and examples of practice; and are able to exchange experiences at international and regional levels through international two week programme in Sweden, and a regional two week programme in Africa and in Asia.
The ITP has been running since 2008, and Rhodes University has had the privilege of working on this programme since then. Since its inception till date, academics from 35 countries in Africa and Asia, 23 of which are in Africa; a total of 121 institutions, 68 of which are in Africa; 261 participants; 161 of whom are from the African continent, and together the programme has supported 142 change initiatives in participating universities; 84 of these in African universities, showing a practical approach to re-orienting university education towards sustainability. Participants on this year’s programme are from four different countries in Africa: Morocco, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique. This year’s participants also hold various forms of office in the Higher Education system: some are from Higher Education Ministries - in Morocco, Mozambique and Ethiopia - while others are Deans of Faculties, Pedagogical Directors in the University, Professors, Lecturers, Researchers and Heads of Institutes and Heads of Departments. Participants also cross disciplinary boundaries, and include natural sciences, social sciences, languages, economics and management, education and engineering (amongst others).
Apart from the ITP participants, two senior Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) officials, Marie Norlund and Catrine Lossmann are visiting the course to observe how it is and has been working. Marie is the Department Controller in the Department for Global Cooperation. She follows up on appropriation in different units such as capacity and development (where the ITP features), research, civil society, business, loans and guarantee. Catrine is the programme administrator of the capacity and development unit, and one of the things she does is to support programme officers that are responsible for programmes just like the ITP. Sida has a long history of supporting environment and development concerns on the African continent and their support has made a strong impact on this sector. They have also valued investing in Education and sustainable development and their contribution to the continent of Africa and current visit to the course is well appreciated.
The Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) at Rhodes University has been working with Sida via their involvement in the SADC Regional Environmental Education Programme, and more recently the International Training Programme for Education for Sustainable Development in Africa and Asia for over 15 years now. They are a trusted and highly valued partner. Through their involvement on these programmes, Rhodes University staff both in the ELRC and also in the Centre for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning (CHERTL) have been able to broaden their understandings of sustainable development on the continent, and more importantly to learn so much about higher education on this continent.
Change projects that are already emerging from the current 2013 ITP participants include:
-Strengthening the sustainability unit and integrating sustainability issues through different university research thematic areas
-Integrating ESD into Higher Diploma Programme
-Incorporating ESD within Secondary Teacher Education curriculum
-Applying Kaizen principles for sustainable development management in Higher Education
-Transforming the lives of firewood collecting women into a sustainable future
-Integrating SD within the English department curriculum
-Promoting awareness and good practice for sustainable development in higher education
-Mainstreaming sustainability concepts in the Master of Science Programme in Regional and development planning in Faculty of Economics and Management
-Development of operational manual to guide the establishment of a curriculum and research development fund for ESD
-Integration of ESD into teachers training programme
-Development of the new Masters and PhD programme of innovation management
-Integration of SD into Science and Technology curricula