It is now almost 3 years since ELIA started its Ecological Literacy Programme (ELP) for 18 Secondary Schools in Mauritius part of the Bureau de l’Education Catholique (BEC) Network. ELP started with Phase I in February 2011. Phase II took place in 2012, which focused on further provision of enabling conditions for Ecological Literacy Development. In 2013 the Programme evolved to Education for Sustainability (EFS), which is currently carried out for 3 BEC Secondary pilot Schools in their curriculum activities.
Upon completion of phase II, a large evaluation process was carried out to decide on the continuation of the ELP. A dialogue was held for this evaluation, including students, teachers, staff, and management to discuss together on how they saw the purpose for Education and the actions required for Ecological Literacy Development. In November 2012 it was decided on the basis of this evaluation to continue the commitment in the following ways:
- From extra-curriculum to mainstreaming within the curriculum through 3 identified key subject areas: Human Values, Social Studies, and Sciences.
- Mainstreaming through 3 identified pilot-schools, for a period of 5 years.
- Change of name from ‘Ecological Literacy Program’ to ‘Education for Sustainability’ (EFS) Programme. This to highlight a systemic and holistic approach to Ecological Literacy Development, which rests on the principle that all Education should be Education for Sustainability.
The Education for Sustainability (EFS) Programme
The EFS programme for the 3 BEC pilot Schools started in January 2013 and will be carried out for 5 years for 3 BEC secondary Schools who have made the commitment to act as pilot Schools. The pilot Schools are: Loreto College Curepipe, St Mary’s College, and BPS Fatima. To ensure that the Ecological Literacy Development of the other 15 BEC secondary schools also progresses, provision is made in the programme for the School coordinators of the non-pilot schools to join the EFS programme with the pilot Schools three times a year for shared training days.
The EFS programme is carried out through 3 subject areas: Human Values, Social Studies, and Sciences. This allows for the Ecological Literacy Development to be integrated into the school curriculum, something that has not taken place in the Mauritius schools system before.
We are currently working together with the teachers, students, staff and management of the schools to create synergy between the activities and lesson materials of the various curriculum subjects and to support the implementation of the Vision and Pledge for Education for Sustainability through the curriculum activities in each of these schools.
In September and October 2013, visioning and dialogue sessions were facilitated by ELIA for the 3 pilot Schools to help them develop their Vision for EFS and to create an ‘EFS School Charter and Pledge’.
The feedback from teachers and students is very positive. We are all learning and discovering together. With the focus on creating synergy, exchange, collaboration and participatory-learning, a deeper engagement is being achieved and commitment to the kind of learning that is part of EFS. Many of the students have indicated that they want to go deeper in their learning about human values and the kind of relationships that contribute to a sustainable society.
Ecological Literacy Development is still commonly mistaken for Environmental Education. Ecological Literacy is much broader than Environmental Education as it supports students in learning how to be, how to relate, and how to act for sustainability. In this way students learn to think in terms of living systems, interconnectedness, interdependence and relatedness.
Most importantly students are supported to become catalysts for positive change and make decisions that hold responsibility for the wellbeing of our society, planet, and future generations simultaneously.
The EFS programme also supports the pilot Schools to further develop their School gardens, learn about Permaculture, learn how to compost, collect their rainwater, and measure the Ecological Footprint of their School.