OMEP-UK Early Childhood Education for Sustainable Citizenship Award

April 14, 2019 by


Sustainable Development means making our decisions today so that they; ‘meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.  The subject is therefore all about the future needs and well-being of preschool children.

Education for sustainable development presents humankind (as a species) as interdependent with the natural world, recognising that the plants and animals around us live in an ecological balance, and that we are also interdependent with each other, as individuals, as groups, cultures, and as nations.  In terms of early childhood development and learning, our understanding of interdependency begins with our learning about ourselves, and about how we respect and care for each other and the wider environment.

From September 2019, the UK chapter of the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (the Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Préscolaire)(OMEP) will be offering early childhood education and care providers the opportunity to apply for an Education for Sustainable Citizenship (ESC) Award.  This OMEP-UK scheme has been developed to support a wide range of early childhood education providers including childminders, preschools, and nurseries who are already working with parents in supporting the objectives of Education for Sustainable Development in early childhood.  The associated resources and training materials offer an optimistic, and pro-active approach to the subject that celebrates sustainable achievements and innovations and encourages children to feel themselves involved in the creation of a more sustainable future.

The scheme is organised around an OMEP ‘ESC Passport’ that is provided for each child. The passport will provide discounted entry to wildlife conservation parks and other related community resources and services.  Each child is able to collect up to 15 award stickers for entry into their passport, and these show their ESC achievements at Bronze, Silver and Gold level.  To be awarded each sticker, parents and preschool practitioners work together to support the child in completing educational activities that range from the identification three wild birds, the identification of wildlife habitats, to the recycling of waste materials, and the recognition of cultural and linguistic diversity. The activities are set at an appropriate level for the age group, they are based upon commonly available environmental resources, and provide the foundations of an education for sustainable citizenship that addresses all aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

OMEP UK are offering accredited training for experienced independent early years trainers and support staff so that they can work with settings in achieving the Award.  As it has been developed here, Education for Sustainable Citizenship should not be seen as a curriculum add-on or an additional commitment: ESC provides a highly motivating new perspective in early childhood with really transformational potential.  Experience has shown that the activities and experiences of ESC improve learning outcomes and wellbeing right across the curriculum, the setting and the wider community.

Campaign to save Lemurs

March 1, 2017 by

Please support the 180 preschool children in Kent who are currently campaigning as sustainable citizens for the protection of their wildlife heritage and for the Lemurs of Madagascar. In the process they are learning to care for the natural world and they are learning that they can contribute towards protecting it. Resources and strategies have been developed that introduce the children to the roles of Wildlife Rangers who are employed to take care of the Lemurs. The children will engage in socio-dramatic play acting out the roles of Lemurs and Wildlife Rangers.  Radio telemetry equipment is being used to show them how the Rangers will win (with the funding provided) in their game of ‘hide and seek’ and how they will be able to protect the animals. Later the children will learn that celebrity animals like the Lemurs are an integral part of complex local ecosystems and that their loss has implications for countless other natural species who share their habitat. It may be some years before they fully understand the importance of biodiversity and of the actions that they are taking, but for now they are all exercising their Right as identified in the UN Convention to have a voice on all matters that materially affect them. They are learning to care about the natural world and they are learning that they can take action to protect it. Please support them. A campaign poster made up of all the children’s faces is available for download HERE. Please print it out and display – lets show them that we all support them.

Yagi2s  poster3

SchemaPlay Collaboration with Kent CC

March 1, 2017 by

A collaborative project between Kent County Council Early Years and Child Care Service and SchemaPlay was launched in October 2016. The work has initially involved six preschools in developing training resources for Education for Sustainable Citizenship (EfSC). These resources were to be applied across the authority but these initial aims have now been developed further in the collaboration, and the intention is to supplement the work with the development of a more appropriate and comprehensive ESC curriculum auditing tool kit, and a preschool accreditation scheme with the potential of national and even international application. Inequality and underachievement provide a significant barrier to sustainable development and the work carried out has therefore been focused as much on raising effectiveness and outcomes, as on the traditional concerns of developing the foundations of environmental, economic and sociocultural education in early childhood.

Early childhood economics education has been identified as an area in need of development in education for sustainable development. One of the early activities that was therefore developed in the pilot preschools involved the children growing hyacinths for sale to parents at Christmas. The children were then able to decide what to spend the income on to support their playful learning in the preschool. Each child initially ‘bought’ their pot, soil and bulb from a ‘Nursery in the Nursery’, and in many of the settings the children went on to set up a shop for their parents to buy the flowering plants.



New Book: International Research on Education for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood

October 28, 2016 by

Just published by Springer


This book offers a perspective on Education for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood (ESDEC) that is far removed from the ‘business as usual’ notion of an extended, predominantly environmental, educational curriculum for preschools. It presents a vision of sustainable development that has relevance to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) from birth to school; it is relevant as much to homes, family support and health settings as it is to educational settings, and is as much concerned with health and wellbeing as with education. The book provides a perspective that is fundamentally embedded in notions of interdependency. It places an emphasis upon the importance of recognising the interdependency of peoples within and between nation states; the ecological interdependencies of the natural world; of humanity and nature; and most significantly the interdependency of adults and children. These emphases have their origins in the grassroots studies included in the ten chapters representing countries from around the world. The book reflects the idea that only global solutions and initiatives are capable of addressing the global challenges of climate change, environmental pollution, and global threats to ecological systems and biodiversity.


Siraj-Blatchford, J., Park, E. and Mogharreban, C. (Eds.) (2016) International Research on Education for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood, Springer

Update on UN Envoy for Global Education

October 28, 2016 by

We reported on Gordon Brown being appointed UN Envoy for Global Education in 2012. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have now established Target 4.2 to: ensure that by 2030 “all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”. Brown is now Chair of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity and the following extracts are from the preface of this committee’s latest report where Brown argues that securing every child the right to education “is the civil rights struggle of our generation.”

“As we show in this report, education – especially the education of girls – is a catalyst for cutting child and maternal deaths, and lifting people out of poverty. Investing early and sufficiently, including everyone, and leveraging synergies with other sectors is the best way to reap the benefits of education.”

“…we call for new action to ensure that all countries – developing and development partners – are held accountable for meeting their responsibilities to children, and for the United Nations to scrutinize countries’ educational advancement and draw attention to any who are failing to invest and improve.”

Recommendation III of the report on Inclusion suggests that the early years are prioritised; “where social returns are highest” (p10) and the report also recommends:

“…particular investment in early childhood development and in services for adolescent girls, which can deliver strong complementary health and education benefits” (p10)

ERS-SDEC Curriculum Audit Tool

September 10, 2016 by

The Education Rating Scale for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood (ERS-SDEC) is now available for download in nine languages from SchemaPlay

An account of the trails carried out by the OMEP team has been published by Springer:


Siraj-Blatchford, J., Park, E. and Mogharreban, C (Eds) (2016) International Research on Education for Sustainable Development in Early Childhood, Springer

Education for Sustainable Development and Climate Change

July 21, 2015 by

“Let us put aside what divides us and overcome narrow self-interest in favor of working together for the common well-being of humanity.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The Notre Dame Global Adaption Index identifies Kenya as one of the 25 countries most at risk from the global climate changes that are being caused by the excess carbon emissions of economically developed countries. With more economic development people have used more cars and other forms of transport, and the products used in homes and produced in factories have consumed energy which has traditionally been produced from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Historically, economic growth and growth in global carbon emissions have gone hand in hand.

But Kenya needs economic growth for sustainable development , our population needs employment, and our children need better health and education provisions.

The time has now come to break the link between economic growth and the growth in carbon emissions around the world, we need to find alternative energy sources and better ways of living with the natural world and environment. But that isn’t going to be enough for Kenya. The United Nations global plan is referred to as ‘Convergence and Contraction’, where the overall objective is to reduce carbon emissions from the current global average of 5.0 Tonnes per person a year, to 2.0 Tonnes per person by 2050. That means that with a current average Kenyan carbon footprint of about 0.3 tonnes we have significant scope for increases, and with the development of alternative energy sources like the new wind power generation scheme even more can, and is beginning to be done at a national level to help. Our ‘carbon partnership’ between preschools in Kenya and the UK have also been developed to support these changes. As a significant aspect of their Education for Sustainable Development  children in the UK are learning from our good examples of tree planting, recycling materials and wildlife conservation in Kenya. The UK-Kenya preschool partnership supports a fair and equal dialogue and we are also learning from some of best practices of the UK partner preschools. Some of our success stories are also attracting international interest (Siraj-Blatchford and Pramling-Samuelsson, 2014, UNESCO, 2014):


Why my kids never experience nature

March 29, 2015 by

Source: Why my kids never experience nature

Emergent Literacy in Early Childhood

March 6, 2015 by

87% of Kenyans can read. In Zimbabwe more than 90% can read. In the UK, adult literacy is 99%, and in many countries around the world, including Cuba, Finland and Norway adult literacy is very close to 100%. How can we do better?

Where people don’t learn to read there are mostly two reasons:

1. They are not taught

        – that is why less Kenyan woman can read than Kenyan men.

2. They are taught badly

Reading is not just sounding out words

You can’t teach a child to read just by teaching them the letter sounds

 What you need to know if you are to teach children to read:

Information doesn’t just go from the text on the page through the eyes and into the brain. When we read it is a two way process, we use our brains to read. That means motivation is important; we have to want to read, and we have to believe that we can read. When we read we can sometimes use letter sounds to ‘decode’ a word in text. But we use many other important strategies to recognise words in reading. In preschools we need to support children in their use of all of these strategies and not just through teaching them letter sounds.

This is what researchers have found when they studied eye movements in the process of reading. We typically follow the red arrows – we don’t ‘read’ the letter sounds – we don’t even look at each word – we work out what it says as we go along… We look for meaning in the text.


We typically skip over 15% of all content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs) and 65% of all function words (prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and pronouns (Paulson and Freeman, 2003).

What is good preschool practice?

Children need to want to read…

  • Read aloud to the children every day, and talk with them about the books.

We need picture story books to read to them so that they learn how much fun reading is.

We need to use information/reference texts with children so that they can see that we continue all our lives to learn through reading

Children need to believe they will be able to read…

  • Children need to see the adults around them reading so that they develop the expectation that they will read as well
  • Provide and refer often to signs showing the names of plants in the environment, classroom resources and the materials things are made from

Children need to hear most of the words used in a text before they read them.

  • We need to talk with children more so that they are introduced to new words and ideas before they find them in print.
  • Engage children in conversations about what is happening in the community and environment around them
  • Listen and respond to what they have to say.

This is why it is always better to teach children to read in their mother tongue (or home) language.

Children should learn to enjoy the sounds of language

  • Introduce them to rhymes – identify words that end with the same sound
  • Enjoy alliteration – when several words begin with the same sound
  • Match sounds – play a game with pictures – which of these words begins with a ‘d’ sound?

Play with the alphabet

  • Use blocks, cards and puzzle games
  • Start with the letters significant to the children – “Look Wambui’s and Wanjiru’s names start with the same letter ‘W’

Support emergent writing

  • Encourage children to scribble and ‘play’ at writing – write with pencils, charcoal, chalk, sticks in the dust
  • Teach the children to form the letters of their name

Notes prepared by Mercy Macharia and Professor John Siraj-Blatchford


Nursery Rhymes and songs

One, two, three, four, five, Once I caught a fish alive, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, Then I let it go again. Why did you let it go? Because it bit my finger so. Which finger did it bite? This little finger on the right.

Ukuti, Ukuti Wa mnazi, Wa mnazi, Ukipata Upepo Watete.. Watete.. Watetemeka..

Namba moja, mbili, Tatu, nne, tano. Hesabuni tena!

Nani mganga Tausi, Kalimanjila – La Lala salama – Ma Mama mzazi – zi Zizi la ng’ombe – mbe Mbele ya nyumba – mba …


  • Fine feathered friends
  • Meenie miney moe
  • Wee Willie Winkie

Make up a meal with the children using alliteration words: “tasty tomatoes”, “leafy lettuce”, “mixed up maize”, “pasty pilau”, “ugly ugali”, “chilli choma”, “sausage stew” and “chapatti chai”. 


Bats conservation and learning through making things

February 15, 2015 by

Nakuru West preschool in Kenya together with their UK partner Sunbeam preschool joined together in an education for sustainable development project on bat conservation and learning through making things. The children learnt about bats by making bat models using recycled materials.

As an introduction to the project, the children at Sunbeams preschool sent a cuddly toy bat to Kenya together with a picture story book about bats.

This was received by Nakuru West children and their teachers:

teachers-bat bat photo

Nakuru West preschool decided to join their partner friends in making bats using locally available materials which included charcoal for black colour, papers for wings, and cardboards from toilet rolls for bats body, sticks, strings, and blunt pins.

Snapshot 3

They also made a makeshift house for the bats.

Snapshot 8

As they carried out the activity, the teachers engaged in a dialogue with the children who learnt how bats cuddle together and hang upside down in their houses during the day as they sleep, and go out during the night to eat mosquitoes and moths. The children said they were happy to learn about the bats and how important they are to their lives. As long as the bats eat mosquitoes children will not get sick together with their siblings who are at home, thus they will always be happy healthy and able to attend school. Children also learnt how good it is for them to make sure they protect the environment and the bat habitats. They learnt a song about the bats, the song had numeracy and they sang counting about how bats went out one day and what would happened to them.

The teachers too were happy to learn more about the bats and decided to work together and to keep reminding the children about the bats. After we carried out the bat making activity each child was given an opportunity to go and put his or her made bat in the makeshift habitat.

Snapshot 9

The children were happy to learn that bats sleep while facing upside down. It was a very interesting activity and the children said they would look to see the bats and see if they are eating mosquitoes.

The teachers also learnt that it is important to make things out of recycled materials for teaching and also ensuring that children are fully engaged in the manipulation of such materials to have a clear view of what it entails.

Reported by Cecilia Wangui.