RCE Greater Eastern Uganda - 2018

Higher education curricula for ESD
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Higher education curricula for ESD
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Greater Eastern Uganda
Contributing organization(s) : 
Busitema University
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Organizational Affiliation: 
Busitema University
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Friday, June 8, 2018
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Africa and Middle East
Tororo/ Eastern Uganda
Address of focal point institution for project: 
P.O Box 236, Tororo
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The major socioeconomic activities among the locals are peasant agriculture, small scale business and fishing. About 30 % are working class people employed in public or private enterprises. Much of the initial forest cover has been depleted for firewood and charcoal and the land demarcated into small sizes among family members. There are two rain seasons in the area, March to June and August to November. Lake Victoria is situated within the project area and so some people engage in fishing.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The people are peasants who rely heavily on firewood and charcoal for cooking. This has heavily depleted the forest cover because of cutting trees to be burnt for charcoal. In the rain season there are floods sweeping away small bridges and landslides in the mountain areas. The land is also exhausted because the people depend heavily on peasant agriculture with rudimentary farm implements and land demarcated into small sizes. Fights over land are not uncommon due to shortage as population keeps growing. These coupled with climatic changes has often resulted in food shortages and famine. The disease burden is also high in the area since many children do not have enough to eat and lack clean water sources. As a result of cultural norms that promote gender inequality, most girls attend school with a lot of difficulties and easily drop out. Moreover domestic violence is also on the rise. Many youths who have dropped out of school because of poverty resort to drug abuse and involved in a lot of crimes making the area insecure, leave alone the high prevalence of HIV/Aids.
August, 2014 to June, 2018
The curriculum project was driven by the understanding that curriculum is an educational experience that transforms the learner and that education empowers people and prepares them to play active role in society and is therefore a vital channel to infuse concepts, principles and practices of sustainable development in community. The courses are one way of contributing to the achievement of the national ESD strategy and turning the vision and plan of Busitema University to educate for sustainable development into practice. The faculty of Science and education trains teachers to work in secondary schools and these teachers are regarded a source of knowledge and can therefore influence community through their work and interactions. It is believed that a well trained teacher with knowledge and skills in ESD can influence young people and contribute towards community transformation through educative processes and modelling good practices.
Introduce students to the issues, principles and concepts and practices of sustainable development by critically examining the theory, practice of sustainable development at the international and national levels.

Provide a process for generating social and environmental change by developing skills of learners for educating for sustainable development,

Provide a forum for students to engage with community in issues that affect humanity and sustainable development.

Develop students’ skills and competence in community engagement practices.

Produce teachers who are reflexive, critical and sensitive to sustainability practices.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The project employs a systems approach to sustainability that blends curriculum, teaching and learning, research, community engagement and campus operations. This involves developing and running a compulsory cross cutting course on ESD in all the programmes in the faculty supported by ICT, engaging staff and students in sustainability clubs and involvement of the campus community in clean up of the nearby town council. Public debates and talks by special guests on sustainability topics are also used to pass on the sustainability message. As part of the course assessment project, students identify a sustainability challenge on campus or in the community, and work towards solving it. Members of staff also engage in sustainability research either individually or in interdisciplinary ways. Post graduate students have also been encouraged to take up research in these areas. There is plan to offer an online distant education ESD course for in-service teachers. The curriculum has been designed and is in the process of approval.
Size of academic audience: 
About five hundred students have attended our compulsory cross-cutting courses in ESD at the different programme levels.
An ESD sustainability students’ club was formed on the campus and engages in outreaches in the surrounding communities including teaching some lessons in class, and building environmental literacy through active involvement with secondary school students in tree planting and other activities. The ESD curriculum has been developed for other programmes of the faculty, the Bachelor of Education Primary and the Masters programmes in education leadership, industrial Mathematics and Physics. An online ESD course has also been designed to cater for distant learning. The undergraduate curriculum on the project has produced teachers who can champion the sustainability debate in secondary schools, while at the post graduate level students have began tailoring their research in areas of environmental sustainability. There is one PhD research ongoing on Strategies and practices of academic staff in implementing ESD.
Lessons learned: 
A course in ESD requires practical transformative approaches. The traditional lecture methods alone cannot deliver the goals of ESD and so a blend of relevant pedagogical approaches must be used. Capacity development is very important to enable more staff to participate in the programmes. We also learnt that no one is an authority in ESD for every discipline has something to offer and that we can achieve much if we do not take too many activities at the same time.
Key messages: 
The curriculum project is a high impact one because it enables ESD to be addressed from different approaches. Imparting sustainability knowledge and developing skills of teachers has a multiplier effect when the teachers go out to work in schools. They can initiate projects and provide education for environmental literacy to young people who on the other hand can take the knowledge and skills to their homes and communities.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
We do take part in national workshops on ESD and interact with other RCEs within the country.
The project is funded entirely by the university only. We are exploring additional funding to enable all activities to take off.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon photo1.jpg (164.49 KB) Community clean up by campus community and security officers I. Oyege
Image icon photo2.jpg (112.9 KB) Students in outreach I. Oyege
Image icon photo3.jpg (145.13 KB) RCE coordinator with community members in general clean up I. Oyege
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development – Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Building capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Empowering and mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level