Why Sustainable Education Is Critical for the Next Generation

Sustainable education is an approach to teaching and learning that provides learners with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to live in harmony with the planet’s natural systems. With the world facing significant environmental challenges, it is more important than ever that our children are equipped with the tools they need to create a sustainable future. 

Here are three reasons why sustainable education is so essential for the next generation:

  1. The current state of education is not preparing learners for the future 

It is no secret that our education system is in dire need of reform. With the world changing faster than ever, it is more important that our learners are prepared for the future. Unfortunately, the current state of education needs to do more to meet this challenge. Children need to be taught the skills they need to succeed in the real world. They need to be allowed to think critically or to develop new ideas. We must do better if we want them to be able to compete in the global economy. In South Africa, 15% of 25-34 year-olds had a tertiary qualification in 2020 compared to 47% on average across OECD countries. In 2020, only 10% of 3-5 year-olds in South Africa were enrolled in early childhood education programmes, compared to 83% on average across OECD countries. In 2021, nearly 3% of 15-year-olds and nearly 9% of 17-year-olds dropped out of school. The General Household Survey, 2021, released by Statistics South Africa, indicates that although most 18- and 19-year-olds were still attending secondary school, almost three out of 10 pupils aged 18 years (29,3%) and 4 out of 9 (46,3%) of 19-year-olds had dropped out of school. The majority of 20-year-olds were not in education, with approximately 23% attending university, TVET, or other colleges, while 18% were still attending high school. https://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=15520

2. The benefits of sustainable education for both learner and the planet 

With the understanding that the future of our planet relies heavily on the decisions we make right now, sustainable education is increasingly becoming a priority. By introducing potential future generations to ways to live a sustainable lifestyle, we empower learners to make choices that will help protect and conserve our planet’s resources for many years. The knowledge acquired through lessons focusing on sustainability promotes an environmentally conscious attitude. It inspires young people to take practical steps towards lessening their profligate need for energy and waste. Truly, sustainable education gives us hope for a brighter tomorrow where the natural environment is respected. Teaching learners how to care for the earth from an early age may make us more likely to see a significant change in their lifetime than ever! Our programmes aim to inspire learners to make changes in their schools, homes, and communities. We have witnessed learners implementing recycling initiatives at their schools after we ran a recycling lesson introducing them to waste’s impacts on the natural environment. Many of our learners also express positive feedback after attending our day camps, indicating a change of behavior towards nature. 

“I loved the snake & the lesson on the different animals. I also liked the models that they showed us. It was fun & the facts were fascinating. I will now stop hurting & showing violence toward animals”. – Feedback from a holiday club learner at 3FOLD LIFE support NPC.

3. The importance of supporting sustainable education initiatives

Investing in sustainable education initiatives is about creating a better world for future generations and promising a brighter tomorrow. Many countries are already working to inject more resources into these projects, and the results are promising. By developing models relevant to their region and people, they are slowly realising the potential of sustainability and sustainably sourced educational opportunities. Whether its educating underprivileged children, providing scholarships to those in need, or training professionals in green energy technologies – investing in sustainable education initiatives holds immense benefits for all involved. Our Conservation Leadership Programme is an impactful and continuous project that aims to equip young and passionate learners with the necessary leadership skills and knowledge to become better ambassadors for the environment. Our Conservation Leaders have been with us for 7 years and journey with us from Grade 6 to Matric. They learn about sustainability, leadership, and the protection of the environment through interactive and immersive experiences in nature. 

Education has by no means been a static institution and must continue to evolve if it is to prepare students for the future. Sustainable education offers a multi-pronged solution that can drastically improve learners’ lives and this fragile planet’s well-being. Eco-friendly practices and renewed emphasis on critical thinking are just a few benefits of sustainable education. 

This transition requires time and resources but can be simple and manageable. Our Sustainable Schools Programme can help your school start with small yet meaningful steps toward sustainability. With enough dedication and effort, your learners can become passionate advocates for sustainability and join forces with others who share similar visions—together, they will drive a much-needed revolution in modern educational practices worldwide while creating brighter futures for generations to come.

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