How well has ESD been integrated into Germany’s education sectors so far and how can the progress made be checked? To answer these questions, a monitoring programme was developed by Prof. Dr. Gerhard de Haan and the GAP project team (Institut Futur).
At the office of the Scientific Adviser (German) on the Global Action Programme, Professor Gerhard de Haan, a monitoring process is being developed and implemented to track the status of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in the German education system. To identify the extent and quality of ESD activities in all education sectors and thus compile a systematic and detailed picture of ESD implementation to date, monitoring activities look at the current status of ESD and the developmental trends seen in recent years. The models and studies used are taking into account the UNESCO monitoring process used at global level.
An overarching theoretical approach used in the monitoring process assumes that there are key leverage points within the education system that have the potential to be particularly effective in promoting broad implementation of quality ESD in all education sectors. These leverage points are identified for their importance in mainstreaming good practice in ESD. The status of and trends in the implementation of ESD will be assessed at these crucial points in the education system.
Monitoring involves four phases:
1. The first phase comprises desk research in which key ESD-related documents are analysed – curricula, study regulations and training regulations.
2. In a second phase, expert surveys are used to identify key leverage points for ESD in the German education system. These are then used to set out the focal points to be assessed.
3. The third phase introduces quantitative and qualitative surveys. Representative samples are used to assess the extent and quality of ESD in all education sectors. A qualitative study is then performed to provide insights into the quality of ESD practiced and highlight beneficial and inhibiting factors in implementing ESD.
4. The fourth and final phase involves more desk research to show the progress made in implementing ESD in the various education sectors from the first monitoring period to the second (interval of approximately two years). In this phase, the overall research results are synthesised and recommendations are made for further integration of ESD in the German education system.
The results of and progress made in monitoring are regularly documented and prepared in the form of progress reports for the National Platform on ESD. Proposals are also made for strategy and quality development in relation to the National Action Plan and beyond.
At the moment, as part of the third monitoring phase, an analysis is being conducted using data from a national study on the type and extent of ESD implementation. The quantitative study gives an insight into the status of ESD implementation, the associated obstacles and sustainability-related knowledge, attitudes, behaviour and emotions. Some 525 teachers (schools and vocational schools) and 2,564 young people (aged 14 to 24) were surveyed. In evaluating their responses, it became clear that there is much room for improvement when it comes to ESD implementation in the educational sectors covered by the study – school, higher education and technical and vocational education and training. This highlights not only a discrepancy between education reality and policy goals concerning ESD, but that both teachers and young people would like to see their respective educational institutions incorporate considerably more ESD. The survey results will shortly be published in the form of executive summaries. Academic publications will be produced at a later date.
A second review of central documents in the education system is also underway (fourth research phase). Here, selected document types analysed in the first monitoring phase are reviewed in respect of changes that may have occurred in order to illustrate possible trends in ESD implementation at document level. All subsequent monitoring-related publications are published at regular intervals.
Monitoring of ESD in Germany’s education sectors is conducted using a four-phase process by a team in the office of the Scientific Adviser on the UNESCO Global Action Programme. The first research phase (desk research) is based on conventional education monitoring approaches and builds on globally-used indicators for ESD implementation. These have been specially adapted for use in the German education system given that a systematic, education sector-specific picture of the extent of ESD integration has been lacking to date.
Using lexical analysis, central documents are reviewed for the education sectors early childhood education, school, higher education, technical and vocational education and training, and local authorities. The diverse document groups involved include curricula, education standards, study regulations and training regulations. To be able to draw conclusions as to prevailing trends in ESD implementation, previous versions of the most recent documents (where available) were included in the review.
The results of the first monitoring phase have now been published in a report, Wegmarken zur Transformation - Nationales Monitoring von Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung in Deutschland (German) (Milestones on the Way to Transformation – National Monitoring of Education for Sustainable Development in Germany). In addition to a detailed description of the monitoring process, the report provides a baseline for use in assessing ESD implementation in central documents from various sectors of the German education system: Early childhood education, school, dual vocational training, higher education, local authorities and Länder-specific sustainability strategies. The results make it clear that integration of ESD at document level is extremely heterogeneous in some education sectors and differs depending on the Land concerned. This applies both to the depth and scope in which ESD in addressed, the document type and the period of time involved. The more recent the documents reviewed, the better ESD is taken into account.
A qualitative analysis (phase two) focused on the diffusion and identification of beneficial and inhibiting factors in education sector-specific integration of ESD in the German education system. Building on this, conclusions can be drawn regarding leverage points for further implementation of ESD.
A summary of the results is published here shortly. In addition, a quantitative study on ESD in teaching-learning settings (phase three) was conducted in 2018 to assess the extent to which ESD has been implemented in schools and other educational settings, and to capture prevailing knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in relation to (E)SD.
Quantitative study on ESD in teaching-learning settings
As part of the third phase in national monitoring of the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (GAP ESD), an online study was conducted in spring 2018. More than 2,500 young people (aged 14 to 24) and over 500 teachers in schools and vocational schools were surveyed regarding both the status of ESD implementation and ESD and sustainability-related attitudes, emotions, knowledge and behaviour. The evaluation of their responses made it clear that in the education sectors covered by the study – school, higher education and technical and vocational education and training – there is still much room for improvement when it comes to implementing ESD. This highlights not only a discrepancy between education reality and policy goals concerning ESD, but that both teachers and young people would like to see their educational institutions incorporate considerably more ESD.
Discussion paper: What are good practices in ESD?
The Global Action Programme monitoring team interviewed ESD stakeholders at the Agenda Congress 2016
The National Agenda Congress on the UNESCO Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development (GAP ESD) was held in Berlin on 12 and 13 July 2016. The GAP monitoring team conducted a short survey in which they asked the question: “What are good practices in ESD?” They have since published an article [external PDF | 1 MB | German] containing the results.
The Congress is a central awards and networking event for Germany’s ESD community. This is why the event was chosen as the venue for the survey. The aim behind the team’s explorative approach was to obtain insights into the heterogeneous group of ESD stakeholders and gain a detailed picture, both of the group themselves and of their views concerning ESD. One particular topic of interest was what ESD stakeholders see as “good quality when practising ESD”. Of the 617 registered Congress attendees, 190 took part in the survey. The discussion paper sets out the initial survey results and focuses for the most part on the importance of good quality in practising ESD.
The results show that the stakeholders see high quality ESD as the interplay of goals, content, methods, media and organisational structures in specific educational settings. The aim of quality ESD is the acquisition of “Gestaltungskompetenz”, meaning the speciﬁc capacity to act and solve problems, with the emphasis on sub-competencies belonging to the competencies-set involving the abilities to act, assess and evaluate. Quality ESD takes in the entire sustainability discourse and, increasingly, the general transformation debate. It is framed by specific criteria, such as interdisciplinarity, focus on the future and value orientation. With regard to methods and media, quality ESD can be identified by its clear focus on the concept of situated learning. It focusses on participative approaches and a clear reference to everyday life and personal surroundings (one of the main approaches taken being the whole institution approach). The stakeholders also recognise that the entire educational landscape is in need of structural change.
The discussion paper is designed to spark a much-needed quality debate in ESD. The authors thus welcome feedback of any kind.
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