Since the launching of the UN 17 SDGs in 2015 and the SDG-related Education 2030 program of the OECD, the global effort to achieve sustainable development in formal, informal, and non-formal education has been bolstered. Even though international, national, regional, and local initiatives have been taken to support educational communities to follow the pathway to sustainability, there is a concern regarding the effectiveness of the prospective of ESD to educate students to become active agents of change and stakeholders for the future. Academic literature and national documents have revealed that even though there is a great variety of content, context, curricula, material and pedagogies in the area of ESD (Vare, 2018; Sterling, 2014) to face the challenge of WHAT to teach, the educator lacks the key competences required on HOW to teach in order to facilitate critical ESD (Bürgener & Barth, 2018; Rieckmann et al, 2018; UNECE, 2018; Lozano et al, 2017; Lozano et at, 2019). Since teachers have been assigned a key role in embedding the principle of sustainability in learners, they need particular competences that go beyond the pure professional, to build a critical understanding of sustainable development on the one hand and the pedagogical approach of ESD on the other
Only then, they will be able to support learners in developing sustainability competences through a range of innovative teaching and learning practices and help them understand the interrelatedness between ecological, economic, and socio-cultural structures, make an individual and a collective contribution, and take initiatives and actions to solve them. Indeed, without teachers developing certain key competences, it will be nearly impossible to reach sustainability (Scherak & Rieckmann, 2020). Even though elements of such ESD competences are described in a number of conceptual frameworks for teachers during the last decade, such as the CSCT-model (Sleurs, 2008), the UNECE model (2012), the COM-BiNE model (Rauch et al, 2008; Rauch et al, 2013) the RESFIA+D/UNECE (2016), they only remained on paper, with no practical scope and guidelines to foster teacher professional development opportunities to inspire them. The needs assessment carried in all partner countries before we proceed to the development of this project, not surprisingly, revealed that this is the case. Similar to the literature challenges were revealed focusing on teachers’ lack of key competences to proceed to ESD. According to their responses, the general conclusion is that teachers found it difficult to self-reflect on their role to ESD and to think critically on how to teach about and beyond sustainable development issues. They felt incompetent and incapable to teach current environmental issues of concern in a holistic and systemic way. They supported that knowledge and skills development is not enough to teach sustainability in learners.
It is a matter of having the proper competences in order to become agents of change to lead students and school communities in actions and transformative processes towards sustainability. The needs assessment, also, revealed the need for well-structured trainings, programs, and practices for the professional development of teachers in key competence development to build their capacity towards restructuring educational processes and educational communities towards sustainability. Therefore, the partnership reached the conclusion that, key competences development is crucial for effective ESD, and that there are no such training tools for VET trainers to train teachers in key competences development. Therefore, this project comes to meet these challenges through the development of a well- organised training model including innovative tools to efficiently train pre- and in-service teachers on all those ESD key competences that will bring about the necessary transformation to learners and the school community in the frames of sustainability.
The Competences4ESD project aims to significantly contribute to redefining the key competences of teachers in the frames of 4SDG – Quality Education for all and give a new dimension to ESD through a novel Key Competences Training Model. The project will enable teachers to overcome the educational challenges when called to involve their learners and their school community in discourses of sustainability. It is aimed to empower teachers and equip them with all the ESD key competences needed to lead future generations, respond to the vastly changing world, think critically, and systematically develop values and attitudes for a sustainable future. To this end, having pre-service and in-service teachers as target group, we propose a project with the following specific objectives: – To gain in-depth knowledge on teachers’ key competence development needs for contributing to sustainable development by the year 2030 (UN 17 SDGs); – To develop, pilot-test, and validate an ESD Key Competences Training Model for VET trainers to train teachers to meet the current and future needs for quality education for all; – To support educational efforts in the frames of digitalised and creative training and learning for the professional development of teachers on ESD key competences. – To assign a key role to teachers to contribute in shaping sustainable development in learners and the school community by promoting and stimulating action-oriented transformative learning.
The activites that are going to be implemented, in the frames of Competneces4ESD project are: 1. Rs: R1: The Teacher’s ESD Key Competences Framework including: R2: The Competneces4ESD training course and pilots, R3: An educational role-play Board game aiming at building the ESD Key Competences to teachers in a playful and motivating way, based on role-playing scenarios,. R4: An e-Learning platform that will be the online tool for the blended (face-to-face and virtual) learning processes. 2. 18 (3 per partners country) trained trainers on the ESD Key Competences training program (C1) 3. 10 pre-service teachers per partner country trained on ESD key competences development (R2 pilot) 4. 10 in-service teachers per partner country trained on ESD key competences development (R2 pilot) 5. 6 multiplier events to promote the project, its intellectual outputs, and its outcomes among VET trainers, teacher education trainers, teachers, school leaders, school directors/inspectors, policy makers, and other related stakeholders (E1-E6) Additionally, the project also foresees a set of project management, dissemination, evaluation and quality assurance, sustainability, and exploitation activities. Specifically, it foresees the preparation of: – Project Management Plan (P1): including the agreements, administrative work, financial and budget control, time management, roles, and responsibilities allocation, templates for reporting, communication means, reporting (interim and final reports) processes, where the coordinator will be responsible with the support from all the partners. – Project Evaluation and Quality Assurance Plan (P4): It will be arranged at the beginning of the project, where the quality and risk management plan and quality assurance procedures will be described in detail, in order to guarantee the quality of the project Results. – Dissemination Plan (P3): A dissemination plan will be produced to describe the dissemination activities targeting relevant to the project stakeholders and the general public. All partners will contribute to the dissemination activities according to their areas of expertise (i.e. branding through logo design, website building, social media, newsletters, brochures, leaflets, etc). – Sustainability and exploitation Plan (P2): An exploitation plan will be prepared so that the partners will utilize the produced materials to the maximum, within the partnership and with other institutions/organisations, during and after the project is completed. Once the project is completed, the partnership will disseminate its results and will transfer the developed practices and educational products to other contexts and educational fields.
Competences4ESD project has as the main outcome the creation of an innovative ESD Key Competences Training Model for teachers in the frames of the 4SDG – Quality Education for all. This training model will develop to pre- and in- service teachers the competences they need to effectively teach sustainability in their school communities. The project outcomes and results carried out during the project implementation period are the following: 1. Rs: R1: The Teacher’s ESD Key Competences Framework including: – a synthesis report of related literature regarding ESD key competences of teachers (desk research, – a collection of ESD key competence contexts for teachers already developed nationally, in the European level, and/or internationally (desk research), – field research on pre- and in- service teachers on the key
competences required for effective ESD – An ESD Key Competences Framework will arise from the data and information generated by the desk and the field research. This will be the end product of the R1, in which the following Rs will base their development. R2: The Competneces4ESD training course and pilots, R3: An educational role-play Board game aiming at building the ESD Key Competences to teachers in a playful and motivating way, based on role-playing scenarios,. R4: An e-Learning platform that will be the online tool for the blended (face-to-face and virtual) learning processes. 2. 18 (3 per partners country) trained trainers on the ESD Key Competences training program (C1) 3. 10 pre-service teachers per partner country trained on ESD key competences development (R2 pilot) 4. 10 in-service teachers per partner country trained on ESD key competences development (R2 pilot) 5. 6 multiplier events to promote the project, its intellectual outputs, and its outcomes among VET trainers, teacher education trainers, teachers, school leaders, school directors/inspectors, policymakers, and other related stakeholders (E1-E6) Moreover, the project with its completion will result in:
-Pre- and in- service teachers professional development through better understanding and acquisition of ESD key competences, which will allow them to integrate all good practices in the frames of sustainability into daily activities – Increased sense of initiative and empowerment of teachers to apply educational activities for sustainable development in their schools – Improved levels of digital competences (through the use of the e-Learning platform, Erasmus+ project results platform, and School Education Gateway) – Teachers and school leaders become change agents that set an example for their learners through their active involvement in sustainability in their own locality – The development of sustainable strategic partnership at the EU level for ongoing collaboration and sharing of effective trainings and practices for ESD – Improved quality in project preparation, implementation, monitoring, and follow-up – Establishment of a network of trainers specialized in delivering trainings in ESD Key Competence Development for teachers through the innovative training program developed – Reinforcement of the response of education and training the today’s main world challenges, such as key competence development, environmental sustainability, digitisation of learning, and critical thinking. – Policy Recommendations to policymakers towards key competences development for teachers in the frames of ESD. Additionally, the project also foresees a set of project management, dissemination, evaluation and quality assurance, sustainability, and exploitation results. Specifically, it foresees the preparation of a Project Management Plan, Project Evaluation and Quality Assurance Plan, Dissemination Plan, and Sustainability and exploitation Plan.