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Embedding Sustainable Development in Colleges Needs Support says Welsh FE Body

The body responsible for representing FE colleges and institutions in Wales, fforwm has called for a change in approach within the college world to help to build awareness of Sustainable Development.

The message from fforwm calls for the importance of Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) to be an embedded part of the curriculum. It follows a report from Estyn called “Establishing a position statement for Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship in Wales” that criticises FE Colleges in particular for their provision of ESDGC training.

Strategic Importance

In particular, Estyn call for greater funding for FE Colleges in this area, comparing the situation with schools and finding the quantity of funding support wanting. The issues contained within Sustainable Development, which encourages economic success in a socially and environmentally responsible fashion without necessarily sacrificing economic performance or competitiveness, are becoming increasingly urgent as the world moves into the 21st Century.

With resources growing scarcer and unlikely to magically spring back into existence ““ substances such as oil and coal take millions of years to form through geological pressure, thus supporting the “Rome wasn”t built in a day” belief ““ sustainable use of resources, human and otherwise, remains on the agenda. This agenda is particularly important considering the relatively new concept of the national “global footprint”.

This is certainly seen as a key strategic concern by the National Assembly for Wales and heads up their Sustainable Development Scheme. FE Colleges are eager to join the campaign to increase the understanding of learners throughout Wales of the ways in which their individual responsibility to their future and their children’s” futures is manifested within these concerns.

Strong FE Commitment

FE Colleges have not waited for the funding and support to be equal to that found within schools, however. One such example of a College to have taken the initiative is Coleg Ceredigion, who were awarded the inaugural fforwm Award for Sustainable Development in June 2006. The College are not holding the secrets of how they came to win the Award close to their chests; indeed, they have agreed to share their experiences with the rest of the sector to encourage best practice sharing.

FE Colleges in Wales as a whole have also committed to improving the provision of education in ESDGC. Some 16 of the 25 FE Colleges in Wales have begun to pilot the new Welsh Baccalaureate, inside which sustainable development resides as a core requirement. It can be hoped that the example of Coleg Ceredigion together with the broader knowledge within the Welsh Baccalaureate will serve as a catalyst for an expansion of knowledge and awareness of the personal responsibility that all citizens of the world share.

Poor Relation

In spite of the efforts of the FE Colleges in Wales, who have welcomed the drive from the Welsh Assembly towards embedding ESDGC provision throughout the sector, the report from Estyn demonstrates that more is needed from the Assembly. It states that “the current guidance on ESDGC is not effective in helping to promote it”, and makes a series of recommendations for the implementation of better support practices throughout education and lifelong learning.

The Chief Executive of fforwm, John Graystone, said: “The publication of this report is very timely, as it coincides with the Welsh Assembly Governments consultation on its key education and lifelong learning strategy, “The Learning Country 2”. FE colleges are already demonstrating a willingness to do things differently, and to adopt the concepts of sustainable development and global citizenship. We now look forward to working with the Welsh Assembly Government in making sure that the right support is in place to allow colleges to turn theory into practice.”

Jethro Marsh

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