Academic Frameworks for Formal School Education and ESD Principles
This chapter uses a didactic framework to explore the extent to which India’s educational frameworks reflect the principles of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Syllabi and textbook analyses serve as an important backdrop for understanding how classroom teaching is structured and for outlining the limitations to achieve ESD objectives. The results show that the pedagogic principles in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) promote critical thinking and environmental action in line with ESD. However, national school syllabi and geography textbooks and syllabi (NCERT and MSCERT) mostly emphasize reproductive pedagogic practice which emphasizes memorization rather than bringing forth the greater transformative potential of ESD principles. A detailed textbook analysis on the topic of “water” demonstrates that teaching content and methods hardly relate to six ESD dimensions, namely social, environmental, and economic sustainability, as well as didactic principles of argumentation, network thinking, and student orientation. Geography syllabi and textbooks display a fragmented, fact-oriented, and definition-oriented approach. Water resources are presented as a fixed commodity, and unequal access to water is not depicted as socially constructed. Differing perspectives on water access in the students’ urban and rural environment are not presented. This contradicts ESD principles, which favor a problem-based, integrated, and skill-oriented approach to topics at the human–environment interface. The applied ESD framework offers entry points for integrating ESD in textbooks and syllabi through the selection, sequencing, pacing, and evaluation of knowledge and skills.
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