Minister Marie Levens van Onderwijs, Wetenschap en Cultuur heeft op maandag 17 mei 2021 de Latijns-Amerikaanse en Caribische regio via Zoom vertegenwoordigd tijdens de World Unesco Conference inzake Education and Sustainable Development. De virtuele bijeenkomst was van 17-19 mei. Minister Levens ging in op de vragen: 1. “Wat zijn de twee tot drie meest belangrijke uitdagingen op het gebied van duurzame ontwikkeling waarmee uw land wordt geconfronteerd en hoe kunnen deze middels Education for Sustainable Development worden aangepakt?” 2. “Wat zijn de plannen van uw land om de Education for Sustainable Development 2030 Roadmap te implementeren? De toespraak van de ministerie luidde als volgt:
1. What are the main 2-3 sustainable development challenges your country is facing and how can they be addressed by ESD?
Good afternoon everyone, receive warm greetings from Paramaribo, Suriname.
I would like to first thank the UNESCO leadership for the invitation to address all of you today, in such an important topic as education for sustainable development.
Suriname and the Latin American and Caribbean countries also face considerable challenges in sustainable development, especially now under the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Suriname is a small tropical country situated slightly north of the Equator above Brazil. It is the number one place in the world with the most green forest areas. Our natural resources play a dominant role in the economy, its exports, employment, and government revenues. One of our major challenges has been an economy that is highly dependent on natural resources. But we have to diversify and manage our natural resources not only for today’s consumption but for sustainable economic and social growth in the future.
Another challenge that can no longer be denied is the increase of poverty and inequalities in our population in the last years. People in remote areas of the country have become vastly vulnerable and excluded of opportunity. Isolation and inequalities have become a raising barrier to build bricks of development in the country.
Given these challenges, Education for Sustainable Development in my country and in the Latin American region Education is the great equalizer. It lifts people out of poverty. But many young people leave the school system in our region because education has lost its purpose. Our youngsters ask: Education for what? Why should I go to school or engage with my teacher if the bubble of my classroom does not reflect the world outside? Why should I go to school if the people that makes the most money are the extractors of gold and bauxite and timber and most of them did not get an education?
The perspective that UNESCO brings with ESD looks for the real answers our young people are searching for today: “How do you build a world more inclusive, just, peaceful and sustainable?”. ESD empowers our students and lifts them from consumers to creators, educates, based on the real challenges and problems a community faces, giving young people a role, responsibility, a voice and tools to become change makers, thinkers and strategists. They will contribute in transforming our countries from being dependent on extractive economies to more sustainable, ecological and renewable economies.
Let’s trust our teachers and the potential and real capabilities of young people,
2. What are your country’s plans to implement the ESD for 2030 Roadmap?
For the BIG TRANSFORMATION we need deep structural changes.
Part of our ESD Roadmap relies heavily in 4 major factors
Policy wise: As we speak we are moving from a content-based system to a learner-centered education system. We are adopting in our education policies UNESCO’s approach to ESD to enable learners to live what they learn and learn what they live.
We are currently undergoing a curriculum reform, where we are incorporating the SDGs and global citizenship values as a cross-cutting theme throughout subjects. We are creating multidisciplinary and scientific-inquiry based projects. Emphasis is under the Theme of the Amazon Forest. This will be disseminated to Primary Level teachers and schools. And I invite teachers, students and researchers to join us In Suriname to save our Amazone forest.
We seriously are creating more support for our teachers, especially those in far to reach communities where geographical, language and cultural barriers sometimes seem insurmountable.
In Technical and Vocation Education a new Track on Green Careers is in development. Students can then actively create a greening economy and society. These new fields of study can broaden their horizons and make a difference in our country.
Suriname commits itself to promote the ESD approach in our Caribbean Community and share resources and initiatives that can benefit us all.
Finally, In essence, our Surinamese Roadmap focuses on providing opportunities for teachers and learners to experience sustainable development in ACTION; we want them to experiment development first- hand. Learning is not about being right or wrong, or being intelligent or not, but to be fulfilled, have a meaningful life, a sustainable livelihood, contribute to the bigger world and feel responsible for our ONE HOME, Our planet.
Thank you very much