Sustainable development has become a key and urgent issue for many societies throughout the 21st century. This necessarily entails that we look at our world as a system that connects both space and time, transcending geographical and generational boundaries as we strive to meet and protect not just our life opportunities but those of the future generations as well. It also entails that the social, economic and environmental well-being of the people are promoted and advanced as a matter of right, ensuring everyone a life of dignity.
In attaining sustainable development, education has a critical role to play. But as experts and advocates of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) have stated, educating people to a higher and more advanced level is simply not enough to give rise to sustainable societies. A more difficult task at hand is to provide an education for citizens that will help instill values that encourage sustainable practices, and will enable learners to make decisions and choices that promote sustainable development.
That education is a critical and indispensable component in achieving sustainable development has been further recognized with the proclamation of the period 2005 to 2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Other laudable efforts and strategies to push for ESD have been undertaken and continue to be pursued across the globe and in Southeast Asia in particular, as the education sector tries to do its part in addressing such challenges as poverty, wasteful consumption, population growth, urban blight, gender inequality, conflicts and violation of human rights.
Indeed, there is a demand for education to reflect upon its relevance to the modern world. This toolkit on “Integrating ESD into Secondary Education Social Studies Curriculum in Southeast Asia” is one such effort to respond to this demand. The toolkit represents the commitment of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH) to bridge the information gap and to foster meaningful appreciation for the concept of sustainable development, especially among secondary school students in the Southeast Asian region. It represents a concrete show of its steadfastness to provide solutions and resources that will help improve curricula and pedagogies towards quality and relevant education for all.