Posted on 16 September 2015
Over 1.5 million students who returned to school this September will receive lessons on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This is the result of the introduction of ESD in technical and secondary schools and teacher training colleges in 2014, targeting students from grade 1 through grade 5.
“We have integrated aspects of ESD in all subjects,” said Dr. Evelyne Mpoudi Ngolle, Inspector General at Cameroon’s Ministry of Secondary Education. “There will be no special courses on ESD, but we have made it possible that environmental protection is taught across all school subjects and in different forms. School textbooks now carry aspects of ESD which teachers must exploit during lessons,” Dr. Mpoudi said.
During French classes, for example, teachers will use a text that is related to the environment. At the end of each school year students would have acquired knowledge that makes them capable to act on their environment.
Students were first tested on environmental protection and sustainable development in June. Cameroon’s twin Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education now look forward to revising textbooks to include more issues on environmental protection and sustainable development.
WWF Cameroon initiated the process to introduce ESD in Cameroonian schools in 2012 with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). It entailed training and supporting teachers of nine ESD pilot schools in the Bakossi Landscape in the South West Region of the country in the development of Locally Relevant Themes (LORETs), a local curriculum aimed at addressing local development challenges. This effort was scaled up to national level in 2013 through support to Cameroon General Inspectorates of Basic and Secondary Education to acquire skills and inspiration from the LORETs, conduct nationwide research, and develop Nationally Relevant Themes (NARETs).
"WWF has been helping the Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education to develop a local core team of trainers that supports the pilot schools in the Bakossi Landscape and will also work towards developing a national core team of trainers to facilitate the spread of ESD across the country," said Ekpe Inyang, Capacity Building Advisor and ESD Team Leader for WWF Cameroon.
WWF will advocate for the designation of ESD focal points at the Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education and the establishment of a steering committee comprising the Ministry of Environment as coordinator and the Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education as implementers.
WWF is also providing hands-on coaching to a local civil society organization, Assembly of Youth for a Sustainable Environment and Development (ASYOUSED), to enable them to develop knowledge and skills in ESD, master the curriculum, and continue with the training of the core teams of trainers to ensure sustained implementation of ESD activities in schools.
In his preface to the syllabuses, Secondary Education Minister Louis Bapes Bapes said that schools aim at “empowering learners to cope with complex and diversified real life situations."
According to Bapes, "instead of a school cut off from society, we now have a school deeply rooted in a society that takes into account sustainable development, local knowledge and cultures."