28 November, 2019 - Minister Mitchell O’Connor opens the 5th National Forum on Education for Sustainable Development

The Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today (Thursday 28th November) opened the 5th National Forum on Education for Sustainable Development in the Hibernia Conference Centre, Dublin Castle.

The forum is being held under the National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development (2014-2020) and will focus on sustainable development goal 4, the objective of which is that by 2030 all learners will have acquired the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “This important forum today provides a platform for us to showcase and celebrate exemplars of quality, excellence and innovation in Education for Sustainable Development within the Irish education system. It will allow us to listen to and share our knowledge of, and vision for educating future generations towards the creation of a sustainable world and to meet the 2030 SDG targets”.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor welcomed Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland who is giving the keynote address to the forum saying that: “It is truly a great privilege Mary to have you here with us today to share your wisdom and inspire our young.”

The aim of the National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development is to ensure that education contributes to sustainable development by equipping learners with the relevant knowledge (the ‘what’), the key dispositions and skills (the ‘how’) and the values (the ‘why’) that will motivate and empower them throughout their lives to become informed active citizens who take action for a more sustainable future.  The Minister referenced a number of actions already being taken by the Department and other bodies in this regard.

Other speakers at the forum include the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on access to quality education at early years level (SDG 4.2), the Department of Education and Skills on inclusion in the Irish education system (SDG 4.5), Jack O’Connor, UN Youth Ambassador on sustainable development and global citizenship (SDG 4.7), a number of representative schools on different aspects of sustainable development and the Central Statistics Office on the development of a central Irish SDG portal to map data on the implementation of SDG targets. 

As we near the end of the lifetime of the current strategy in 2020, the forum also allows reflection on progress made under the National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development and to facilitate discourse about future direction post 2020 and towards 2030.

 

Notes to Editor

Organisations and Schools presenting at the Forum:

Green Schools represented by Shilleagh No 1 N.S. Co. Wicklow

Our World Irish Aid Awards represented by Glor na Mara National School, Tramore, Co Waterford and St Michael’s School, Roscommon

 

SEAI – One Good Idea competition represented by Beech Hill College, Monaghan (overall winners),  St Attracta’s Community College Sligo, and St Mary’s High School, Cork

 

WorldWise Global Schools represented by Aoife McMahon, Santa Sabina Dominican College, Sutton, Co. Dublin.

 

  1. National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

 

  • National  Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development  (ESD) launched in July 2014
  • Strategy pre-dates the UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Interim review completed – launched by the Minister at ESD Forum in November 2018
  • DES chairs the ESD Advisory Group made up of relevant Departments,  organisations, NGOs and other stakeholders.

 

The ESD Strategy aims to ensure that education contributes to sustainable development by equipping learners with the relevant knowledge (the ‘what’), the key dispositions and skills (the ‘how’) and the values (the ‘why’) that will motivate and empower them throughout their lives to become informed active citizens who take action for a more sustainable future.  It covers three key policy areas: environmental, socio-economic (including Gender Equity) and political.  Key measures in the Strategy for the Department include:

-          Integration of ESD principles where relevant into the curriculum at all levels.

-          Integration of ESD principles into ITE and teacher CPD programmes

-          Integration of ESD principles into the school building programme

-          Collaboration with stakeholders in relation to delivery of ESD and related programmes (Development Education (DE) and SDGs)

 

Some of the key developments highlighted in the ESD interim review are:

 

  • The establishment of an Advisory Group comprising key actors in relevant areas to advise on issues arising and support my Department in leading implementation of the strategy
  • The integration of ESD in the curriculum (e.g. SPHE, politics and society), in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes for teachers. 
  • The school buildings programme – energy efficiency / retrofit
  • Working with stakeholders in supporting a range of school programmes including the Green Schools programme, World Wise Global Schools, Blue Star Schools etc.     

 

The Department works closely with a number of stakeholders in delivering the ESD Strategy including the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Department of Foreign Affairs/ Irish Aid, Green Schools, An Taisce, ECO-UNESCO, SEAI and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) among others.

 

  1. UNs 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

 

The ESD strategy fits with the UN Sustainable Development goals (SDGs) introduced in 2015. The UN’s 17 SDGs are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. 

Under SDG 4 – Quality Education, the target (4.7) aims to ensure that by 2030 “all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.  The ESD Strategy aligns closely with this goal. 

The Department is represented on the D/Communications Climate Action and Environment led Inter-Departmental Working Group which is overseeing delivery of the National Sustainable Development Goals Implementation Plan 2018-2020.