Defra has published a new update on how well we're doing in relation to sustainable development – as far as any indicators can tell us, that is. The report, Measuring Progress: sustainable development indicators 2010, cover 68 indicators, one of which [ No. 47] is focused on education (actually, educational attainment). Defra concludes that, compared with 1990 and 2004, things educational are looking up. However, given that the main indicator is the proportion of 19 year olds with level 2 qualifications (at least 5 GCSE grades A* to C or NVQ level 2 or equivalent), this is hardly worth very much – save that, in a democracy, it's always better to have an educated population than an ignorant one. It would probably be worth more, of course, were more young people (and more often) able to engage critically with sustainability issues during their education than is currently the case.
There is another education indicator [No. 48]. This is Sustainable Development Education. Under this, Defra notes:
It has not been possible to find a simple way of measuring progress on education for sustainable development.
Ongoing research by the UK National Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organisation), begun in 2008, indicates that evidence of sustainable development could be inferred from changes in three areas: Policy – reviewing and re-orienting education policies, Programme and Practice – integration, leadership and building personal and social capacity, Personal and Social – developing understanding and skills.
Research evidence is increasing on what can be gained by improving education for sustainable development for children and
For each, evidence will continue to be sought by the UK National Commission throughout the UNESCO Decade of Education for
That's it. Maybe it's time to drop this indicator – or make it meaningful: the proportion of schools that have been awarded 2 green flags, perhaps. Discuss ...