The objectives of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), completed in November 2014, and the following Global Action Programme, seek to “generate action at all levels and educational areas and learning to accelerate progress towards sustainable development “(UNESCO, 2014)
Towards these goals, UNESCO, with the support of the Convention on Biodiversity, decided to implement several pilot projects in different countries to generate lessons learned on how to include the cross-cutting issue of biodiversity in the teaching and learning in basic education curriculum. The UNESCO Cluster Office for Mexico and Central America managed the resources to develop this project in Costa Rica.
The aim of the project was:
“To promote the inclusion of education for the protection and promotion of biodiversity as a cross-cutting theme in basic education, establishing the curricular spaces for data gathering and adequate methodologies for its transmission to teachers of Basic Education.”
The project was coordinated by a committee consisting of representatives from the UNESCO Cluster Office for Central America and Mexico, the Ministry of Education, and the Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development at the University for Peace.
The project implementation was carried out from December 2014 to May 2015. This project carried out three macro activities:
1. Curricular mapping and development of methodological proposals: a review of the basic education curriculum was conducted to identify entry points for biodiversity content in the various materials for cycle I and II, and methodological proposals for the inclusion of this subject into the curriculum content were identified.
The implementation of this activity was conducted by the consultant Ana Victoria Wo Ching, hired specifically for this project.
2. Local action projects: two specific pilot projects were implemented to enact some of the points raised during the project, related to ways of including the theme of biodiversity in the national basic education curriculum.
The coordination of these projects was provided by the Earth Charter Center, and the implementation by two Costa Rican organizations, the Foundation for the Development of the Central Volcanic Range (FUNDECOR) and Ecological Project International (EPI).
3. Proposal for a teacher training guide: a document was produced with points to be incorporated into training processes for teachers of subjects in the basic education curriculum, recommending ways to include the biodiversity issue in their subjects.
The implementation of this activity was carried out by the Earth Charter Center with the support of the consultant Ana Victoria Wo Ching.
Each of these activities produced very beneficial macro products, especially for the Ministry of Education and its teachers. The matrix generated with the mapping of the theme of biodiversity is quite extensive and provides an ample perspective of how teachers in subjects like math, history, languages, and others can work with the theme of biodiversity using existing curriculum content, i.e. without adding more topics to their curricula.
Demonstration projects generated by FUNDECOR and EPI also offered important lessons. FUNDECOR created a methodology for school gardens and EPI generated a methodology to practice biological research methodologies in the field, related to biomarkers and monitoring of butterflies.
Methodologies and lessons obtained from these projects are systematized in various reports that have been delivered to UNESCO and the Ministry of Education to be shared with teachers.
A methodological guide was also created to develop processes of teacher training on the issue of sustainability, education, and values. Inputs to generate this training were completed with 15 national consultants through a workshop. This training guide was delivered to UNESCO and the Ministry of Education.
Overall, this project generated many inputs to deal more holistically with the issue of biodiversity in the context of education for sustainable development, and to achieve changes to the promotion of values of respect and care for biodiversity.