There is a significant amount of research on globalisation and education involve the study of intertwined worldwide discourses, processes, and institutions affecting local educational practices and policies. The four major theoretical perspectives concerning globalisation and education are world culture, world systems, postcolonial, and culturalist (Spring, 2008). Many researchers endorse that the major global educational discourses are about the knowledge economy and technology, lifelong learning, global migration or brain circulation, and neoliberalism.
From the sessions, I understood that the major institutions contributing to global educational discourses and actions are the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and UNESCO. International testing, in particular the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and instruction in English as the language of commerce are contributing to global uniformity of national curricula (Spring, 2008).
However, there are critics of current global trends support educational alternatives that will preserve local languages and cultures, ensure progressive educational practices that will protect the poor against the rich, and protect the environment and human rights.
Therefore, personally I am keen on the theme of sustainable development which is linked with that of the global dimension within the cross-curricular dimensions of the National Curriculum. Sustainable development is a global issue as well as the local one (Atkinson, 1999). I believe as a future teacher, this topic would be interesting to be discussed and analysed. This is because in the future I probably will be addressed by such responsible to educate students with such knowledge.
Definition of globalisation and sustainable development
Definition of globalisation
This term is used in a variety of contexts, to indicate economic interdependency and the power exerted by some multinational corporations that no longer have strong links with any particular country, but see themselves as transcending national boundaries (Soubnita, A.T, Sheram. et. 2000).
"The technological revolution seems to be one of the most powerful engines of the globalisation process" (Friedman, 1995: 341)
In addition, development is driven by one particular need, without fully considering the wider or future impacts. We already are seeing the damage this kind of approach can cause, from large-scale financial crises caused by irresponsible banking, to changes in global climate resulting from our dependence on fossil fuel-based energy sources. The longer we pursue unsustainable development, the more frequent and severe its consequences are likely to become (IISD, 2012), which is why we need to take action now. Â
Definition of sustainable development
I believe that the need to avoid further depletion of the world resources is a general understanding on the definition of sustainable development term. It is globally known that the concept of sustainable development formed the basis of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The summit marked the first international attempt to draw up action plans and strategies for moving towards a more sustainable pattern of development. It was attended by over 100 Heads of State and representatives from 178 national governments. The Summit was also attended by representatives from a range of other organisations representing civil society. Sustainable development was the solution to the problems of environmental degradation discussed by the Brundtland Commission in the 1987 report Our Common Future (Dressner, 2002).
From the reading on several articles and books, I agree that sustainable development is about making sure that people can satisfy their basic needs now, while making sure that future generations can also look forward to the same quality of life. Thus, I understood that sustainable development recognises that the three 'pillars' - the economy, society and the environment are all interconnected. "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." (IISD, 2012)
1.3 Personal views
My stand is that the concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance differently, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations that we face as a society.
Therefore, I believe that sustainable development is about finding better ways of doing things, both for the future and the present. We might need to change the way we work and live now, but this doesn't mean our quality of life will be reduced. Having gained popularity at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit (the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) the term sustainable development is now widely used and misused (IISD, 2012).
There are goods and bad things regarding globalisation and the relation to the context of sustainable development.
Globalisation and sustainable development in environmental aspects
Living within our environmental limits is one of the central principles of sustainable development (Dresner,2002) . Thus, respecting the limits of the earth's environment, resources of biodiversity with aims to improve the environment and ensure that the natural resources needed for life are unimpaired and remain so for future generations should be understood by global.
Firstly, Dresner (2002) suggests that one of the principles of sustainable development is any development activity should help to sustain and not harm our natural resources. Both scientists and ordinary people have noticed that the Earth's life-support systems are taking strain that once fertile areas can no longer sustain people ( Atkinson, 1999) ; global fishing stocks have been depleted; the atmosphere, water courses and our food supplies have been polluted. It is difficult to determine how much of this kind of development the Earth can take. It is also hard, for each activity, to predict its impact on ecosystems. For this reason, I believe that there is a need to apply the precautionary principle that we can do to restore our environments, which in turn opens up many new development opportunities. Examples include organic farming, de-contaminating the soil and re-growing forests. On a macro-scale, if we are to sustain the planet, we must reduce population growth and change our patterns of consumption (IUCN, UNEP and WWF (1991)).
Moreover, the world's environment has continued to deteriorate (IUCN, UNEP and WWF (1991)). For example, forests continue to disappear or be degraded at a rate of 14 million hectares a year; greenhouse gases are still increasingly pumped into the atmosphere, but there are a big amount of report mentions that the US has rejected the Kyoto Protocol and the present targets for emission reductions are clearly inadequate; there is a forthcoming crisis of water shortages around the world,such as in India where some parts of India still struggling to have enough fresh and clean water supply; and new technologies such as genetic engineering pose new environmental and health threats (IUCN, UNEP and WWF (1991)).
Globalisation and sustainable development in society
To discuss further, we should know that the focus of sustainable development is far broader than just the environment too. Atkinson (1999) mentions that it is also about ensuring a strong, healthy and just society. Thus, I believe this means meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity (Orr, 1992).
In addition, Spring (2008) advises that the way we approach development affects everyone. The impacts of our decisions as a society have very real consequences in people's lives. Poor planning of communities, for example, reduces the quality of life for the people who live in them. Sustainable development provides an approach to making better decisions on the issues that affect all of our lives (Orr, 1992). By incorporating health plans into the planning of new communities, for instance, we can ensure that residents have easy access to healthcare and leisure facilities.
As I understood from sessions of the lessons, our world is far from fair. The majority of the global population do not have access to resources; these same people suffer disproportionately from pollution, resource depletion and land degradation. Therefore, a question; How do we work towards greater equity, environmental justice and social sustainability?
A report states that South Africa has taken a huge step forward by abolishing unfair apartheid laws and instating a democracy that recognises equal rights (Cassius Lubisi, 2008). However, inequalities remain in the way people participate in the economy and benefit from it. On a global scale there are calls for fairness in international trade regulations, which currently benefit the wealthiest nations and discriminate against less powerful ones.
There are sum of research reporting economic injustices within each country. Therefore, in my view, there is a need to review the economic policies and practices in terms of their people impact. There are questions such as to what extent do they reduce the appalling income gap in South Africa? What best supports the livelihoods of the majority? A few capital-intensive projects or many smaller, job-intensive ones?
Of course, people's well-being is not only dependent on jobs or income while social sustainability also involves education, health and a healthy environment, security, opportunities for relaxation and spiritual renewal, and people's right to participate in decisions that affect them (Orr, 1992). This includes the right to information about the environmental health impacts of development activities, and the right to legal action if such activities prove to be harmful.
Globalisation and sustainable development in economics limitation
Speaking through the economics specs, a principle to this is to achieving a sustainable economy is aimed to building a strong, stable and sustainable economy which provides prosperity and opportunities for all, and in which environmental and social costs fall on those who impose them (polluter pays resolution), and efficient resource use is incentivised (Dreser, 2002).
A report from IISD (2012) states that sustainable development can lead to savings; as a result of SDC scrutiny, UK government has saved over £60m by improving efficiency across its estate.
I always have a thought that more development means for environmental protection and reduce poverty. Here a great mess started, because I believe linking the two concepts sustainability and development together opened the door for some to interpret the call for action as a call for more of the same development (Orr, 1992). They argued that where there is poverty and suffering, there is simply not enough economic growth. So I assumed that the focus on the idea of sustainability shifted from sustaining living resources, to sustaining development.
There are other ways of thinking about development as a kind of development that would sustain or nourish people, including the poor, and at the same time not overshooting the Earth's capacity to renew ecological resources. In Caring for the Earth, A Guide to Sustainable Living, a coalition of environmental agencies described sustainable development as improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems (Wackernagel and Rees,1996). The Brundtland Report (1987) talked about development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. These ideas really require us to think in a different way about the needs of the present, especially the plight of the most needy, but also beyond them, about the future. In this view, what we need to focus on how to sustain people and the planet not following the old misleading path of economic growth as we know it.
My view is that this principle should be about economic activities that sustain people and planet and not about maintaining an economy, especially one based on development-as-growth, which is as noted would harm the planet and fails to benefit the majority of South Africans (Cassius Lubisi, 2008).
Sustainable Development calls above all for reforms in the manner that some countries conduct their economic activities (Wackernagel and Rees,1996). Numerous measures have been proposed including:
Removing unfair trade barriers Economists estimate that this would allow poorer countries to generate a total income three times the sum of official development aid;
Removing Government subsidies that harm the environment and the poor;
Upholding the polluter pays principle that those who do harm, must pay for redress;
Instituting clear paths of responsibility and liability as for example, a CEO should be liable for the accuracy of a company's environmental reporting;
Shifting the tax base from labour to resource use; in other words, rather than taxing us on what we earn through the work we do, tax us on our impacts and what we consume;
Price products not only on what value has been added to them, but also in terms of what value they have deducted from the common natural resource base;
Increase resource productivity ; create wealth with ever fewer resources.
(Wackernagel and Rees,1996)
On a micro-scale, the question is not what constitutes a sustainable business but rather on how to sustain business as usual is taught in any business school and does not require a new concept (Spring, 2008). The question that lingers is, what kind of business will sustain people and the planet? I personally believe that truthful answers will require many companies to change either the nature of their business, or the way in which they go about it.
Education for Sustainable Development
5.1 How to educate?
In the 1990s, mounting concern over environmental and development problems has meant greater support for an educational approach, which not only considers immediate environmental improvement as an actual goal, but also addresses educating for 'sustainability' in the long term (Wackernagel and Rees,1996). Although some education literature has embraced this new focus of environmental education for sustainability (EEFS), it has failed to outline the essence of this approach and has neglected questions about how it differs from the environmental education of the 1980s (Billet, 2001). No document exists to date which translates the goals of EEFS into guiding principles for its development in schools (Spring, 2008). Essentially, I think EEFS needs further definition.
5.2 Within business, society, government and educational institutions
"Education for sustainable development is a life-wide and life-long learning endeavor which challenges individuals, institutions and societies to view tomorrow as a day that belongs to all of us, or it will not belong to anyone." (UNESCO, 2004:9)
The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005,2014) was initiated at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where everyone agreed that without education, sustainable development will remain nothing more than an interesting idea. This global initiative has sparked inspirational innovations around the world (IUCN, UNEP and WWF (1991)) which I think later bringing a very big impact to the world of education.
5.3 What is education for sustainable development?
In my opinion, there is little difference between environmental education and education for sustainable development (ESD). The Environmental Education Association of Southern Africa (EEASA) has for years argued that environmental education is about sustaining all life, in socially just and economically fair ways. EEASA members have seen environment as the inter-relationships between ecological life-support systems and the economic, political and other social systems interacting within and with the natural world (Billet, 2001). I would recommended that environmental education be not just for children and teachers, but for everyone, in particular those who, as corporate or political decision-makers, have an immediate impact on the world.
The implementation of sustainable development in education is expected to produce a higher national workforce to enhance economic growth too (Mohd Zanal, 2009). Mohd Zanal views that an economical aspect is one element in Sustainable Development, and through education in which the country expects to produce more students who are more likely trained in field-related skills. The main question here is what are the elements required in the curriculum at the secondary school level if it would be supportive to the sustainable development of the country?
However, based on my schooling experienced years back then, this understanding of environmental education is not widely shared, and many assume that environmental education is only for children to learn about nature. The Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) provides an opportunity to widen the public understanding of the role of education in moving towards ecological sustainability and social justice. This is good because I certain that it gives chances to spread the awareness the importance of education, apparently to educate people about ecological sustainability.
I am agree with the lead agency for the Decade is UNESCO, which advises that countries and groups can interpret education for sustainable development differently in ways that suit their particular context. UNESCO itself has interpreted the idea as an umbrella concept for its various initiatives including the 'Education for All' campaign associated with the Millennium Development Goals, as well as gender-sensitive education, rural development, health care, community involvement, literacy, HIV/Aids, human-rights education, peace education, and environmental education. This idea is hoped can be achieved and practised around the world.
While all these initiatives have considerable merit, there is a very real danger with such a full 'mixed bag' ( Spring, 2008) that the environmental dimension of sustainability may be separated from other development goals, and lost or conveniently left out of the equation. For example, a company running business training for rural development could promote their courses as 'education for sustainable development', even if they never mention the need to use natural resources sustainably or to minimise pollution.
For a sense of what education for sustainable development might involve, I agree with the four domains of the Implementation Plan for the Decade:
Creating access to basic education for all
Re-orienting existing education programmes
Raising public awareness and understanding
Vocational and professional training for sustainability. The idea is to have Education for Sustainable Development in thousands of local situations on the ground, involving the integration of the principles of sustainable development in a multitude of different learning situations. (UNESCO)
1. Creating access to basic education for all
The UN argues that if countries are to develop sustainably, everyone should have a basic education. In parts of the world, formal education is not yet universal especially for girls (UNICEF, May 2005). In South Africa schooling is compulsory (Cassius Lubisi, 2008). On the other hand, regardless of government subsidies, many children still do not go to school because of severe poverty, too few schools and poor communications and technology.
More deceptive is the fact that even those who are enrolled in schools are often absent. Where social support is inadequate, many learners stay home to care for babies and sick parents. In the many schools without ablution facilities, teenage girls are forced to miss classes each month. There is a report states that some 40% of South Africa's children are kept out of school to perform domestic duties or work in the fields. Even if a child makes it to school, government's limited capacity to deploy existing resources often results in poor facilities and poor teaching (Cassius Lubisi, 2008). Thus I understood that this resulting to thousands of learners are deprived of the education that is not only their right, but the country's key to social and economic development.
Teachers' roles : Raising awareness and understanding : How?
Creativity, teaching methods and industrial relations are the important elements of sustainable development efforts in the particular subject. This is consistent with the recommendations of Mohd Zanal (2009) who stated that sustainable development, in particular concerning to the development of teaching methods, interaction, participation, and collaboration in teaching and learning, should focus on hands-on experiences, visits to factories, field-work, laboratory work, and placement in specific industries. Mohd Zanal also ascertained that these methods would provide students with the necessary exposure and strengthen the sustainability of technical and vocational education. Supplementary teaching methods should also incorporate problem-solving skills, creativity, and innovation skills. Mohammad Sani (2001) considers that teachers undergo continuous education. This is prevalent particularly when viewed in a number of contexts such as changes in the educational environment itself, change in the value of school and personal values, and changes in school management. This view was also supported by Halif (2006).
The state training programs and courses in this service are essential in enhancing the level of teaching professionalism in facing challenges, which stem from outside the profession, such as the changing aspirations of society, and changes in technology. Internal challenges faced by teaching staffs ( the teachers, perhaps) would be the situation of educational organisations (governance), such as changes in curriculum, pedagogy and changes in government educational policies. Each student, for a certain period of time, will be placed in an industry related to their field of study. Billet (2001) viewed learning in the workplace as not only being very useful to students, but a matter which could not be avoided. Many students found the experience of working, partaking in conversation and gaining advice and knowledge from experienced employees pivotal in acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary for carrying out actual tasks.
Further studies of learning in the workplace by Billet (1999, 2001) found that day-to-day activities in the work environment were a very important source of learning and experience to work. It was found that students received guidance in both direct forms through interaction with other employees and indirect form through observation and discussion of activities in the workplace. Workplace learning is also important to teachers or trainers and should become an in-service activity as part of their lifelong learning ( Mohammad Sani, 2001).
Any meaningful efforts to improve the quality of teaching, the facilities at schools, and the health of communities are valuable steps to increasing access to basic education, and meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which are integral to sustainable development. I believe that the challenge now is to help teachers to meet their obligations and do justice to the exciting possibilities in the curriculum. I hope as a future teacher I would have the opportunity to teach this interesting topic on sustainable development as a global issue.