Last updated: 24Apr2018

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) In-Country Workshop Theme:
Addressing Sustainability through Transformative Education November 20-22, 2017

Workshop Report Universities Case Study

Education is pivotal in achieving sustainability. Its changing landscape necessitates conscious and concerted efforts among stakeholders in the academe. A number of ways can be done to equip the students with deeper understandings on the multifaceted role of education for sustainable development (ESD). One of which is the conduct of in-country workshops to ascertain transformative education by infusing ESD concepts in the Teacher Education Curriculum (TEC) thereby producing graduates who are equipped with competencies that address sustainability.

The proceedings of the in-country workshop held in Cebu City, Philippines last November 20-22, 2017 speaks of the dedication of the organizers from SEAMEO and UNESO and that of the select Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) of the Philippines.


Five TEIs positively responded to the in-country workshop invitation by sending their ESD focal persons to Harolds Hotel in Cebu City, Philippines. SEAMEO’s Deputy Director, Dr. Ethel Agnes P. Valenzuela, discussed about the urgency to address the gaps transformed as priority areas- advance policies, enhance learning and training environments, build the capacities of educators and trainers and empower and mobilize the youth, with the Philippines identified as pilot ground for environmental concerns.

It was also stressed that teachers are powerful agents of change who can deliver the educational response to advance sustainable development through their wide ranging influence on policies and practices, in orienting the community, on developing solutions. It is noteworthy to point out that the first in-country workshop/ ESD training among South East Asian countries happened in the Philippines.

Key understandings that surmised are the following:

  • ESD allows every human being to acquire the KSAV necessary to shape a sustainable future.
  • ESD requires far-reaching changes in the way education is often practiced today.
  • There is a need to contextualize ESD in the Philippines.
  • ESD is a framework for sustainable future.
  • There is a need to capacitate TEIs as focal persons gained an in-depth understanding of ESD concepts, principles and practices
  • TEI’s through its faculty members to develop projects and trainings in the pre service education.
  • It is a constant challenge, for everyone to ensure that education of today adequately contribute to sustainability, by seriously looking at ESD integration principles and concepts in the TEC.
  • It is about the planning of today that makes tomorrow sustainable.
  • The participants gave their views on their confidence of understanding ESD as an essential element for pre-service teacher training and that their institution is committed to ESD integration
  • Environment was identified as the top concern for all and that the biggest challenge is to make connections between academic and societal issues so they become visible to the students.
  • As ESD provides a vision of sustainability, it must be at the heart of teaching-learning practice.
  • There is a complexity and an urgency to address the issues as these are about life.
  • One can address the problem of ESD from where we are from and from an understanding of how much of the things we learned are still relevant today.
  • Two of the gaps in the Decade of ESD (D-ESD) have been internalized- the absence of clearly articulated ESD strategies and policies, the lack of educator competencies and the need to institutionalize ESD to ensure strong political support on its implementation on systemic level.
  • Through ESD, students are empowered to take informed decisions, to imbibe lifelong and holistic learning to transform themselves and the society.
  • ESD integrated dimensions cover economic, social, environmental, political and cultural as reflected in the sample HOPE framework. More than the concept and practice are the integrated contexts that make ESD distinct.

Along with the many salient points shared on ESD was the sharing of the practices and policies distinct in each TEI; carefully identifying which are ESD-driven and which are simply an offshoot of outreach and livelihood projects. The projects include Cebu Technological University’s (CTU) Paglaum, Bohol Islands State University’s (BISU) Green Village Program, University of San Jose Recoletos’ (USJR) Win on Waste, Cebu Normal University’s (CNU) E-HELP, and Philippine Normal University’s (PNU) ACTLIFE and Green Environment. Common entry point of ESD is on environment and agriculture.

The situation analysis of ESD integration in the Philippines provided the participants with the direction to look at the framework’s dimensions on how these are clearly articulated in their projects. The introduction of the conceptual framework for ESD integration and the completion of the ESD Lens Review proved that teachers in the TEIs are centrally involved. Using an “action research” approach to ESD integration, each TEI representative described their university’s significant ESD initiative/s for the group to identify what can be done and what can be strengthened. A 30-minute interactive sharing cemented the participants understanding of ESD. All this time, the concept of ESD is in each university but was not identified as ESD. The labeling must speak of ESD’s rich contribution to the bigger arena. Closely akin to this is the creation of the link between the identified extension services to pre-service TEC, making the ‘methods’ as best for learning ESD. ESD should not be seen as extension; it should not be happening outside the university for it must, firstly, be reflected in the teachers’ syllabus. The challenge is how to deliberately place and integrate ESD in the teaching and learning processes.

Teachers as frontliners can innovate as long as the minimum requirement of the program is met and it takes courageous leaders to act on initiatives. In integrating ESD, top management is involved. Henceforth, ESD must be reflected in the teachers’ course outcomes, in the program outcomes and in the crafting of university attributes. It was underscored that commitment to develop among the students the competencies be made explicit in the syllabi if change has to happen.

The richness of the presentations of the TEIs practices allows each to come up with a context-specific ESD framework. The synthesis of situational analysis facilitated by Dr. Robbie Guevarra made the contextualization clearer. It was clearly emphasized that ESD has to be useful and not just to be visible by embedding the principles and concepts in the curriculum of pre-service teachers, making ESD not an end point but a continuing journey in education. Constantly, each has to reflect on the interrelationships of economic, methods, context, curriculum, institution, and framework in conceptualizing and implementing ESD in each university. The entry point may vary but the idea of ‘interrelationships and visibility of the elements’ should be eminent in the framework.

It was also underscored that the elements are not to be taken as prescriptive, rather, as a lens that can be used to strengthen the extension projects with a touch of local and community realities. Crucial to the implementation are the leaders’ awareness of ESD, governing policies and availability of resources, and the articulation and alignment of ESD to SDGs.

Active participation was also observed among the participants during the Appreciative Inquiry Workshop employing the 4D Cycle, facilitated by Dr. Ethel L. Abao, the dean of the College of Teacher Education of CNU. As a methodology, it highlights on what is there, not on what should have been there just like a circuit breaker that stops negative thinking. Going through the stages, it was clear to the participants the kind of future they envisioned and the steps to be undertaken to materialize their dream. There was an interactive exercise of identifying assets and capabilities. (Please see Appendix E for the AI workshop template.

Highlights of the TEI Presentations

CNU: EHELP Program
PNU-V: Twist of Zest
BISU: SEEA-Banacon
USJR: WOW (Win on Waste)

Feedback and Comments from the Presentations:

Assessing the nature of the projects, Dr. Guevarra gave his feedback and comments, to wit:

  • revisit the extension project and situate them vis-à-vis the ESD framework presented
  • clearly identify the elements present in the project
  • maintain collaboration in and out of the campus by empowering the pre-service teachers as resource speakers in the community
  • sharpen the focus to identify and label what has been done and how ESD can be embedded in the curriculum
  • tell the story as ESD project and as a TEC-focused project
  • MOU/MOA can be forged to ensure collaboration from stakeholders in identifying local issues
  • learn to deal with sustainability issues even if we are not comfortable discussing about them
  • consider not only health issues but also that of economic interest of the area
  • discuss hard issues with the students, explain well to allow them to make informed decisions around the issues
  • know that analyzing environmental concerns are good starting points
  • give the students a safe space in the classroom for them to discover and discuss society’s hard issues
  • always mobilize the students to engage in ESD by making the purpose clear on the perspective of the students

The presentations shed light on the reality that the heart of ESD are the real issues in the community. ESD is about decision making toward an action, embedding it in the lives of the students making it part of their system. Furthermore, Dr. Ushio Miura shared about the global ESD initiatives emphasizing the fact that sustainability is not an end but a continuous journey where teachers play key roles in transformative education and the the importance of having a ‘teacher professional network for ESD was stressed by Dr. Agnes Valenzuela on SEA-ESD initiatives.

The first half of the third day of the in-country workshop was spent in the material recovery facility in the University of San Jose Recoletos in Basak, Cebu City where the participants were welcomed with the presentation of their Win on Waste (WOW) program. Debriefing and action planning followed in the afternoon. (Please see the attached action plan per TEI.)