ESD Based Education - Quality Education
The OPEDUCA Project presents the original vision placing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) at the base of transforming education and schooling. In our joint strive to realize future-relevant learning from the start, we found that OPEDUCA appeared to materialize policy and research towards a more concrete and practical approach to implement ESD. As we started out from zero in our thinking back in 2004, we already found that too many 'innovations' in education where actually externally driven projects that people laid upon schools' shoulders. Quite often doing so, to our astonishment, with public money. Whether it concerned Technology, Language, Mathematics, ICT and so many more, each time we found that what was presented as new and needed actually, in practice, appeared to be temporary consultancy-driven prescriptive projects and activities that left schools often weaker then before. We often compared many a school to a fired up Christmas-tree full of baubles, bulbs and garlands for each and every priority they faced while it's trunck and branches withered away. Many of the originators of OPEDUCA coming from industry started to team up with teachers and set out on a mission to truly empower the schools.
Although starting out with high hopes as the 'UNESCO Decade on Education for Sustainable Development 2005-2014' evolved, it came to no surprise anymore that also this, notably global effort, produced an endless stream of conferences, papers and presentations about ESD. Again, no fundamental changes but further additions in time and place under the flag of Sustainable Development this time, presented as innovations and put on top of regular education. We made a halt, re-focused on our strive for future based learning and approached ESD as the base for learning itself. In the Netherlands, where OPEDUCA originated, and many other places, ESD seemed to have been taken hostage by policy debates and research-work; still today, if and when ESD-efforts reach the daily life of schooling, it is too often through separate (and temporary) add-on projects that are mostly presented by persons and bodies outside the educational system.
Working most practically thus bottom-up, hence first with teachers and students in primary and secondary education, step by step a way of thinking and working emerged that also attracted cities, companies and numerous people in other areas, together discovering ways to effectively implement ESD. Today OPEDUCA is about regional real live-, inquiry-, problem- and community-based learning driven by students and teachers, focussing on the themes that will make or break our common future, taking in knowledge and practice from industry and science as primary sources of information, validated by the best in research, realising AAAA Learning, Anytime, Anyplace, with Anybody, through Any Device. What comes out of the practical learning process is a local-to-global learning space based on Open Educational Resources, constructed cross-culture and cross-border, also bringing SDG 4 very close. The whole of it driven and owned by the youth of today, becoming the entrepreneurs of a more sustainable common future.
How to understand The OPEDUCA Project as a program to base schooling on
Coming from practice, for schools The OPEDUCA Project offers a set of guidelines and concrete activities that can be molded into a practical program that can eventually lead to a full scape application of all the components of the underlying vision. There is however no general 'textbook' on OPEDUCA: the practical application and implementation depends on the specifics and challenges of each region and school and the transformation-capacity of the organisation. What we present here is a framework for implementation through logical steps and coherent activities, eventually brought forward in 12 pillars schools can work on.
One might compare the transition of a school to OPEDUCA-based education with the sequences to solve a Rubriks-cube: coming from a quite ordened but grey school reality the process will lead over an appereantly twisted state towards a perfect alignment of building-bricks and colours.
Implementing OPEDUCA as a Program requires keeping clear focus on this eventual goal, as envisioned. The process therefore starts with reaching a thorough understanding of the underlying Vision and keeping clear focus on the coherent set of developments and activities that with certainty will lead to achievement of the goals set. The transition process is a strategic development and therefore needs to be understood by all educational partners in and around the school.
Partners in Education for any school based on OPEDUCA are:
"I particularly like the emphasis on OPEDUCA as something that evolves - a school can start with some smaller changes, and then there is a sequence that gradually moves students (and teachers...) towards more authentic, more globally-oriented learning."
Amelia Peterson - Harvard University
Co-author of Thrive: Schools Reinvented for the Real Challenges We Face