Primary school teachers' perspectives on education for sustainable development in Trinidad and Tobago

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Cross, Shinelle
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Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is not common parlance in Trinidad and Tobago Primary Schools. Simply put, ESD is an approach to education that transforms our relationship with our environment; our economy and our society through developing knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that encourages sustainability practices in schools, our communities, the country, and in our own consciousness. Part of UNESCO’s “reorientation of education” was meant to develop ESD values, knowledge, and competencies to reflect sustainability in schools. However, Trinidad and Tobago primary school teachers are encouraged by officials of the Ministry of Education to incorporate sustainability within classroom practices without ESD curriculum or training and, therefore, there is a risk of ESD being reduced simply to concepts, and thus, being implemented poorly, inconsistently, or not at all. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to inquire into Trinidad and Tobago primary school teachers’ perspectives of ESD, how they understood ESD, engaged students in ESD, and the challenges they faced as they attempt to do so. In this study, interviews were conducted with six Trinidad and Tobago’s primary school teachers and one reforestation educator to elicit their perspectives on curricula and sustainability in a post-colonial era. The results highlighted three main ideas: that the postcolonial residue impedes national sustainable development; the importance of healthy community relationships and partnerships in becoming a sustainable nation; and the potential of ESD to encourage the development of a sustainable, locally relevant, culturally appropriate, and child-centred education in a post-colonial context. This study will contribute to a gap in the literature regarding Trinbagonian teachers’ perspectives on ESD in the hopes of informing decision making in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in the greater Caribbean.
Education for Sustainable Development, ESD, Education for Sustainability, EfS, Education for Sustainable Well-Being, Postcolonial Education, Post-colonial Education