Transforming Education Systems for Sustainable Development (TES4SD) Network Plus

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Education

Abstract

The Transforming Education Systems for Sustainable Development (TES4SD) Network Plus will develop sustainable institutional capacity in India, South Africa, Rwanda and Somalia to produce high quality research that will assist key stakeholders in these countries and at a regional and global scale to better understand how education systems can be transformed to support sustainable development. Countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are facing unprecedented challenges in relation to sustainable development including poverty and inequality and managing the risks posed by climate change. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) represent a holistic response to these challenges. Education has enormous potential to act as a driver for sustainable development and the education SDG is centrally implicated in the realisation of all of the other SDGs. At present, however, education systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are some way off achieving the education SDG (goal 4). Our vision, consistent with global, regional and national agendas, is for systems of life-long learning that can provide learners with the skills, competencies, values and transformative agency required to meet the challenges of environmentally sustainable and socially just development. The 'wicked problem' that education systems face in realising this vision is how to simultaneously address the current learning crisis in LMICs whilst transforming education systems to become drivers of SD. This challenge needs to be addressed simultaneously across all sectors of the education and training system and at the global, regional, national and local scales. Led by a world leading team containing relevant interdisciplinary and practical expertise, the TES4SD will assist in addressing this problem. Specifically, we will build sustainable research capacity in partner countries to undertake relevant research including early career researchers based in academic and non-academic organisations. The team will synthesise existing and emerging evidence on how schools can be transformed to address the learning crisis and to make them drivers of SD; how can technical and vocational education and training can be transformed to facilitate the development of green skills and to support youth agency in the transition to sustainable, healthy, lifestyles and in revitalising peaceful and democratic societies; and, how higher education institutions can be transformed to support processes of social learning within civil society and amongst policy-makers to address sustainability challenges in cities and rural communities. Questions at the system level include in what ways is Target 4.7 which relates to education for sustainable development understood and implemented and we will develop contextually relevant indicators to monitor progress towards SDG 4.7 at local, national and global levels. The TES4SD network plus will also commission new research based on knowledge co-production techniques to develop evidence and arguments urgently needed to transform education and training systems. Research questions will primarily focus on the sometimes-contradictory relationship between SDG4 and decent work and economic growth (SDG8); sustainable cities and communities (SDG11); responsible production and consumption (SDG12); and, climate action (SDG13). Strategies for developing impact will be embedded in TES4SD activities from inception including the active involvement of beneficiary groups including policy-makers, NGOs and CBOs in network plus research and capacity building activities; and, the strategic targeting of outputs including national and network wide synthesis reports, policy briefs, MOOCs, toolkits to support research capacity, teaching and learning materials for use in formal and informal settings. Dissemination of evidence to beneficiary groups will be facilitated by the creative use of social and other media and supported by a dedicated website.

Planned Impact

TE4SD will synthesise and co-produce knowledge to transform education systems and therefore support sustainable, socially and environmentally just development, across the four hub nations and beyond. Non-academic beneficiaries include networks, organisations and individuals responsible for the shaping, delivery and regulation of: 1. Formal education; 2. TVET; 3. Higher education, and TES4SD focus SDGs. As highlighted in the case for support, some beneficiaries are already well known to members of TES4SD, e.g. as existing collaborators, or as fellow members of networks that TES4SD will tap into and extend, for mutual benefit.
Policy Makers/Influencers are an important and diverse beneficiary group, including: 1. Regional Policy fora/networks, such as: the African Union's Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), a forum for policy dialogue on education policies and a partnership between African education and training ministries in Africa and their technical and funding partners; the Southern African Development Community (SADC) including initiatives in the area of curriculum and teacher education; UNESCO including regional offices in India, Southern and East Africa and the UNESCO funded Mahatma Ghandi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development; 2. National Government bodies, responsible for policy areas relevant to TES4SD contexts of formal schooling, TVET and HE and focus SDGs; for example, in Rwanda, the Ministry of Education and the Rwandan Education Board; and the Workforce Development Authority; 3. Diverse Local Government bodies, tackling and implementing relevant policy agendas.
Funders/Donors involved in projects and initiatives relevant to TES4SD's agendas, contexts and SDGs including : UNESCO, DFID, the British Council, World Bank, Global Partnership for Education
Private and Public Sector Education providers and practitioners (linked to the formal education sector), including Schools, TVET providers, HEIs, where beneficiaries will include: Senior Management; teaching staff; other professional services staff.
Practitioners operating within informal education settings such as communities and workplaces; social learning is collaborative and relational. Forms of learning benefit from diversity and take place in diverse contexts.
NGOs/NGO networks associated with ESD agendas will be potential beneficiaries, e.g: SomaliREN (a not for profit network including the major Somali HEIs) which promotes research and quality HE among Somalis; the Somalia NGO Consortium, providing links to multiple organisations covering a wide range of agendas and relevant to multiple SDGs.
Members of the community, in particular those most likely to have links to education and other linked systems, e.g. 'youth' and their broader networks; traditional authorities.
An emphasis on co-production will ensure that relevant stakeholders are engaged at all stages of the research cycle from inception and design to dissemination and legacy planning, as well as building capacity for future research and impact work amongst the broader beneficiary communities (see Pathways).
Outputs from commissioned projects and synthesised knowledge will include policy briefs (project-level and national case study level syntheses), practice guides and toolkits. Working with advisers including Mediae and the Mahatma Ghandi Institute, our communications plan will employ multiple media forms and will be sensitive to technological capacity, cultural and geographical contexts and different end user group needs to maximise impacts on policy and practice.
In the longer term, we envisage that findings will be built into broader programmes of work, such as teacher training programmes and local development plans, for instance as a consequence of plus project impact activities; as a downstream legacy of TES4SD training; and through the uptake of national syntheses of findings by agenda setting fora.

Publications

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