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As a result of the global ecological crisis our planet is facing (Swilling & Annecke, 2012),
education for sustainable development, as elaborated by UNESCO, is critical within the
global school context The Earths problems are everyones problems, and what modern
technology and the movement can achieve together is to distribute problem solving
tools (Hawken, 2007: 22). The Sustainable Development Goals implemented in 2015
through to 2030 (UN Division for Sustainable Development, 2015) should guide teaching
and learning, so that they become an integral part of boys awareness and allow them to
take action.
UNICEF have issued a framework identifying knowledge, skills, attitudes and values of
global citizens (see Addendum

figure 1) (UNICEF, 2013).

These attributes are

recognised as being important in 21st century learning and many of them overlap and are
interconnected with those suggested for 21 st century learning (see Addendum figure 2)
(Gerstein, 2014).
Figure 1: UNICEF global citizenship framework for Educators

Source: UNICEF (2013)

Figure 2: Skills and Attributes of Todays Learners

Source: Gerstein (2014)

The Grade 11 Human Impact on the Environment section of the South African Life
Sciences CAPS curriculum (Department of Education, 2011) offers an ideal entry point
for such global citizenry .
Table 1: The Human Impact on the Environment CAPS content for Grade 11 and 12 Life


Atmosphere and Climate


Water Availability and


Causes and consequences of the following (relate to conditions
and circumstances in South Africa):
Carbon dioxide emissions
Concept of carbon footprint and the need to reduce the
carbon footprint
Greenhouse effect and global warming: desertification,
drought and floods
Methane emissions
Ozone depletion.
Causes and consequences of the following (relate to conditions
and circumstances in South Africa):
Construction of dams
Destruction of wetlands

Poor farming practices

Droughts and floods
Exotic plantations and depletion of water table
Boreholes and effects on aquifers
Cost of water
Water for domestic use, industry, agriculture and mining:
pollution, diseases, eutrophication and algal bloom
The effect of mining on quality of water
Thermal pollution
The need for water purification and recycling
Alien plants, e.g., Eichornia

Food Security (link with

population ecology

Causes and consequences of the following (relate to conditions

and circumstances in South Africa):
Human exponential population growth
Droughts and floods (climate change)
Poor farming practices: monoculture, pest control, loss
of topsoil and the need for fertilisers
Alien plants and reduction of agricultural land
The loss of wild varieties: impact on gene pools
Genetically engineered foods

Loss of Biodiversity (the

sixth extinction)

Causes and consequences of the following (relate to conditions

and circumstances in South Africa):
Habitat destruction: farming methods, e.g., overgrazing
and monoculture, golf estates, mining, urbanisation,
deforestation; loss of wetlands and grasslands
Poaching, e.g., for rhino horn, ivory and bush meat
Alien plant invasions: control using mechanical,
chemical and biological methods
Indigenous knowledge systems and the sustainable use
of the environment e.g., devils claw, rooibos, fynbos,
the African potato (Hypoxis and Hoodia)

Causes and consequences of the following (relate to conditions

and circumstances in South Africa):
Managing dumpsites for rehabilitation and prevention of
soil and water pollution
Solid Waste Disposal
The need for recycling
Using methane from dumpsites for domestic use:
heating and lighting
Safe disposal of nuclear waste.
Source: Department of Education, (2011: 5153)

Other forms of ecoliteracy, such as biomimicry i.e. learning from nature (Benyus, 2002;
Biomimcry Education Network, 2012) combined with experiential, project and context

based learning provide frameworks, methodologies and strategies for teaching boys
global citizenship.
Furthermore the Working with Nature project was underpinned by a complexivist
approach to education, which aimed to create integrative thinking and values, moving
teaching and learning out of the mechanistic and industrial education paradigm.

Table 2: As proposed by Fritjof Capra, there is a need to move from self-assertive towards
more integrative thinking and values.























Source: Capra & Luisi, (2014: 13)

It was with these ideas in mind that we started the Working with Nature project to
challenge and excite learners and for them to take control of their learning.


Benyus, J.M. 2002. Biomimcry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. New York:

Biomimcry Education Network. 2012. Biomimcry Design Approaches for K-12.
Available: [2015, July 12].
Capra, F. & Luisi, P.L. 2014. A Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision. 1st ed.
Cambridge: University Printing House.
Department of Education. 2011. National Curriculum Statement (NCS): Curriculum
and Assessment Policy Statement. Pretoria: Department of Education.
Gerstein, J. 2014. Learning: User Generated Education. Available:

Hawken, P. 2007. Blessed Unrest. New York: Penguin Books.

Swilling, M. & Annecke, E. 2012. Just Transitions: Explorations of sustainability in an
unfair world. Claremont: UCT Press.
UN Division for Sustainable Development. 2015. Proposal for Sustainable
Development Goals: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. Available: [2015, July 30].
UNICEF. 2013. Exploring Our Roles As Global Citizens. New York: UNICEF.