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Education For Sustainable Development In Sri Lanka Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 3185 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Sustainable development is a dynamic concept and it is difficult concept to define. It is not about society reaching an end state, nor is it about establishing static structures or about identifying fixed qualities of social, economic or political life. The sustainable development model is a challenge to the conventional form of development. The term sustainability originally belongs to ecology, and it referred to the potential of an ecosystem to subsist over time (Reboratti 1999). The term ‘sustainable development’ came into the public arena in 1980 when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Recourses presented the World Conservation strategy (IUCN 1980).

In generally, Sustainable development is defined as a in mining is often characterized in terms of action today with a view to a future when mining operation have concluded. As well as, it is improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting ecosystems.

Moreover, it is not just an issue for developing countries. A commitment to the promotion of sustainable development is deepening at the international, regional and national levels. It has become a norm of global environmental politics; it is a legal requirement of Member States of the EU; and, within a UK context, is forming an important part of environment and development strategies of devolved governments.

In other word, the concept of sustainable development requires a change of mindset to bring about full integration of the needs for economic, social and educational development with that to conserve the global environment. In fact, education is directly affects sustainability plans under the Implementation, decision making and quality of life.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have been designated by the UN to secure the implementation of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Concerning about the education for Sustainable Development, in 2002 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming that the period 2005-2014 was to constitute the decade of education for sustainable development. [1] 

The intention of this resolution was to enhance the efforts to promote sustainable development throughout the world through education and learning.

Sri Lanka has initiated education progrmme through various trainings and workshops in line with the government’s goal for social progress. The higher/tertiary education, Non-formal education and adult education programmes, primary, secondary education, special education for persons with intellectual or psycho-social disabilities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes etc. was developed for sustainable development.

What is Sustainable Development?

In generally, can define sustainable development is a new term that grew out of the conservation/environmental movement of the 1970’s. While the conservation/environmental movement asked questions about preserving the Earth’s resources, sustainable development includes questions about how human decisions affect the Earth’s environment. According to these views it can show as follows:

Figure 1 [2] 

Definitions of Sustainable Development

There are many definitions of sustainable development. It is first appeared in 1987 in Brundtland Report. According to the World Commission on Environment and Development- Brundtland report, is:

“Sustainable Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” [3] 

In other words, it describes as when people make decisions about how to use the Earth’s resources such as forests , water, minerals, gems, wildlife, etc., they must take into account not only how much of these resources they are using, what processes they used to get these resources., and who has access to these resources. Are enough resources going to be left for your grandchildren to use and will the environment be left as you know it today?

Formal definitions of sustainable development that we use at Forum for the Future is:

“A dynamic process which enables all people to realize their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth’s life support systems.” [4] 

“Sustainable development is maintaining a delicate balance between the human need

to improve lifestyles and feeling of well-being on one hand, and preserving natural resources and ecosystems, on which we and future generations depend.” [5] 

The goal of Strategy for the Education for Sustainable Development

Primary education and Secondary education

By primary and secondary education attempts to make education and competencies for life for sustainable development. In Sri Lanka the National Education Commission has identified a set of general competencies that should be acquired by all children. Following steps has been taken for this development of education.

Flexible learning opportunities and life skills development

Acquiring a common basis of human values

One the other hand, sustainable development is being considered in current curricula and syllabi. The present status of incorporation of the concept of sustainable development in the curriculum/syllabi can be briefly stated as follows.

“In the Sri Lankan general education curriculum, Sustainable development is not yet taught as a separate subject. However, this concept is incorporated within the whole range of subjects, especially, in Environment activities (Grades 1-5), Environmental studies (Grade 6), Social Studies & Science & Technology (Grades 7-11), Biology, Agriculture and Geography (Grades 12-13) etc.

The national system of education assists individuals and groups to achieve nine national goals has formulated from this commission from (Grades 1-13). That are relevant to the individual and society. The goals mostly embrace the social, economical and educational aspects of sustainable development and especially sustainable human development.” [6] 

4.2 Higher Education: Under Economic and Social Development

Following aspect has attempted to develop under the Higher education for sustainable development.

“Develop indicators for Sri Lanka

Comparison of Per Capita GDP amongst for Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, UK, USA and Switzerland – Economic Development of Richer Countries

Promote growth through Neo-classical growth theory and New growth theory

Promote forces of economic growth

Countries with good governance have grown faster

Deficiencies in Human Capital Formation

Enhance economic Geography in the country

Improving the soft skills is will enhance the employability of graduates; it also depends on the supply and demand. If there are no jobs, irrespective of qualifications and skills it would lead to unemployed graduates.

Improvement of communication, articulation, interpersonal interaction in relation to quality improvement of graduates.

Attitude change, like in the case of GMOA

Universities have to play a key role in creating wealth of the country and universities are responsible in creating the human capital.

Private companies have the responsibility to train the recruits in accordance with the company needs.” [7] 

4.3 Innovative practices in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

In the end of the 20th century the need for a vocational, technical and educational knowledge and skills for the development of the world’s economy was clearly manifested in the improvement of diversity in industrial and Service fields. As a result, it was felt that we needed not only those workforce trained in technical and Vocational skills but also those high competent skilled workforce like technicians and technologists in specific areas in industries.

From the beginning of the 21st century, the progress made in industrialization was due to the high capacity of the trained workforce. Therefore the economic development in the world seems to have depended entirely on the knowledge based skill development.

In the last few decades, most of the regional countries paid much attention to the development of human resources. But it must be stated that greater attention was given to development of Vocational and Technical skills. As a result in many of the countries, the required trained skill labourers in the field of construction could not be found and thus the development came to a Stand -Skill.

4.3.1 Sustainability Development in TVET Sector

Factors that affect the Development in Developing countries

“Unutilized human resource

Untrained human resources

Mismatch between economic development policies and the ways of developing human resources.

Less attention on trained skill labourers

Lack of TVET concrete policy for HRD

Lack of industrial linkages with HRD in TVET sector

Lack of qualified trainers for HRD in TVET

Technical -Vocational skills are underestimated in society

Lack of inter educational level linkages (between secondary and technical/ vocational training)” [8] 

4.3.2 Strategies

“Development of a TVET policy that fits the industries at least with their regional standards.

Changing the management operation in TVET sector at every management levels

Having direct involvement in industries in TVET sector and making an industrial linkage policy with TVET sector.

Introducing financing systems for students trained. (Bursaries, Training Levies, Voucher scheme, Student loan scheme, Employer financing system)” [9] 

4.3.3 Solutions for maintaining sustainability

“Identify two pathways of TVET development.

Studies/ training must focus on skill training directly.

Studies/ training must focus on skill training with Entrepreneur development.

Promote industrial linkage with TVET sector

Open direct avenues to school leavers from secondary education system to Vocational/ Technical Training system.

Identify National Vocational/ Technical Education system from lowest level craftsman training to top level technologist training” [10] 

Role of International Organization and Institution: Education for Sustainable Development.

Illustrate about role of International Organization through education for sustainable development UNESCO is the main contributor to develop the Sri Lanka education system. However, UNESCO’s, as also, the Government of Sri Lanka’s major focus in education is to achieve basic education for all by 2015. In this, six dimensions were identified at Jomitian, Thailand in 1990 and the goals were established at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 2000. This is the most important programme to achieve education for all by the year 2015 and UNESCO was entrusted with the overall responsibility of coordinating all international players and sustaining the global momentum.


The goals of Education for All (EFA)

There can be seen six goals about the Sri Lanka Education as follows:

Expand early childhood care and education.

Ensure free and compulsory primary education of good quality by 2015.

Promote learning and life skills programmes for young people and adults.

Expand adult literacy by 50% by 2015.

Eliminate Gender disparities in access to education in primary and secondary education by 2005 and achieve gender equality by 2015.

Enhance educational qualities.” [11] llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll,,

Nevertheless, from these goals to achieve Education for All goals by the year 2015, Sri Lanka had made arrangements to plan out the activities in three phases.

“Phase I – 2002-2003 (3 years) Phase II – 2005-2010 (6 years) Phase III – 2011-2015 (5 years) Sri Lanka prepared the three year plan, taking into consideration the six dimensions identified at Jomitian in 1990 and six goals agreed upon at Dakar in 2000.” [12] 


The EFA unit of the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the provincial EFA units is committed to launch and monitor the programmes in order to reach the expected targets. Two other six years and five years plans were drawn up to activate the tasks needed to reach EFA targets by the year 2015. This effort is also supported by other relevant Ministries, NGOs and International organizations.

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Moreover, within the framework of coordination and planning and in line with the sub regional support for National Mid-Decade Assessment (MDA) of Education for All, the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka is implementing EFA-MDA work under the supervision of the UNESCO office in New Delhi and has prepared the EFA Mid-Decade Assessment Report in 2008. Sri Lanka ranks 2nd among the South Asian Countries with literacy rate of 92.5% and should be well on the way to achieve the target of 100% literacy for all, by the year 2015.

The key to achieving the EFA goals and improving the quality of Education is through Monitoring and Assessments of the progress in the respective fields and in taking timely action. UNESCO and UNICEF are continuing to provide technical and expert assistance for capacity building of Educational Administrators in the monitoring and evaluation of Education for All in Sri Lanka.

5.2 Creating Sustainability Mindsets: Toolkit launch in Sri Lanka

One other hand, MAS Holdings Ltd., a Sri Lanka-based apparel manufacturing company and UNESCO Bangkok’s private sector ESD partner, piloted the “Creating Sustainability Mindsets” toolkit from the 5th -6th of June 2009, in conjunction with the MAS Holdings Eco GO Beyond Schools Sustainable Development Leadership Camp. A total of 55 students and 51 teachers from 28 rural schools from various districts in Sri Lanka actively participated in the one and a half day workshop, held at the MAS Institute of Management and Technology in Thulhiriya.

Through this programme, learning and action-oriented thinking; partnerships (engaging in traditional and non-traditional partners within the public and private sector); and corporate responsibilities are launched among the rural area school to uplift the education.

This toolkit has attempted to create a mindset and learning environment for users to understand sustainable development in both their local and global contexts, and to take ownership and prompt action towards a sustainable future in educational system.


When we explain about the Education for sustainable development in Sri Lanka, we can say education is an essential tool for achieving sustainability. People around the world recognize that current economic development trends are not sustainable and that public awareness, education, and training are key to moving society toward sustainability. However, Sri Lanka has already attained or is on track to attain the MDGs related to poverty, education and health, subject however, to significant regional disparities. Relatively promising economic performance – e.g. over 5 percent growth since 2002 and the decline in unemployment to 5 percent – has helped.

As a result of this, Sri Lanka education system has made significant advances after the control of the system was developed to the elected representatives of the people during the mid-twentieth century. The introduction of free education from the kindergarten to the university, the expansion of the school system to cope with the rising demand for education, curricular changes and infrastructure development with state funding enabled the system to make wide strides thereby ensuring universal access to education.

As an emerging economy, the challenge for Sri Lanka is to achieve sustainable high economic growth with greater equity, whilst integrating in the process of globalization. Consequence of this Sri Lanka is making every possible effort to develop the effective educational system for the Sustainable development and to expand economy of country. As well as, Sri Lanka has already initiated and has initiating (from Primary , Secondary, Higher and Vocational education) to enhance education system for sustainable development future by establishing more vocational and technical trainings institutes, skill training with entrepreneur development, promoting industrial level development, human resource development project, new teaching methods and subjects: like as Environmental studies, eradicate unemployment problem through skill training programme and linking with other like as (UNESCO) International organization and Non-governmental organizations etc.

One the other hand, through higher school education is making graduates innovative and creative graduates who can transform new ideas and knowledge into innovative products and services and who can improve the existing products and services etc. to uplift the sustainable development by reducing the weaknesses of educational system in Sri Lanka.


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