The Journal of Education for Sustainable Development has recently published: Contributions of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to Quality Education: A Synthesis of Research
This idea of ‘quality education’ is all the vogue these days, especially in UN / UNESCO circles. Here is the Abstract …
This research is a synthesis of studies carried out in 18 countries to identify contributions of education for sustainable development (ESD) to quality education. Five common questions were used for the interviews in each country to solicit education leaders and practitioners’ views on the outcome and implementation of ESD. The analysis revealed that major themes repeated across the 18 studies, showing that ESD contributes in many ways to quality education in primary and secondary schools. Teaching and learning transforms in all contexts when the curriculum includes sustainability content, and ESD pedagogies promote the learning of skills, perspectives and values necessary to foster sustainable societies. The research also identified the need to integrate ESD across all subjects, to provide professional development for teachers to ensure ESD policy implementation and to adopt ESD management practices to support ESD in the curriculum in order to broaden ESD across countries.
The key phrase in all this is: “to solicit education leaders and practitioners’ views on the outcome and implementation of ESD“. Thus, it is more about opinion than proven fact.
The paper concluded that there was qualitative evidence that ESD contributes in many ways to a quality education. In particular, it says that when the curriculum includes sustainability content — delivered in terms of local, social, economic and environmental contexts — teaching and learning transforms primary and secondary education in all contexts. It further said that there was (qualitative) evidence that ESD pedagogies facilitate the learning of knowledge, and promote the learning of skills, perspectives and values necessary to foster and maintain sustainable societies.
The authors concluded, however, that there was a need for further research which “demonstrates the contributions to quality education and the extent of those contributions”. That is, there’s a need to go beyond the opinions of experts if any of this can be demonstrably shown to be the case, and implies a need for the sort of empirical research studies that are routine in the medical sciences but rare in education.
You can download the full paper here.