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.